Wednesday, September 14, 2011

People You May Know

Diego Velazquez: Las Meninas, 1656
In Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance, and the Camera since 1870, SFMOMA curator Sandra Phillips argues that photography has played a major role in voyeuristic looking. Velazquez famously recorded acts of looking as far back as 1656 in his Las Meninas painting. Contemporary artists Emily Jacir (linz diary) and Shizuka Yokomizo (Stanger series) make work about deliberate performances before an unseen but perceived camera reminding us that someone is always watching. Gladys Kravitz was the nosy neighbor archetype always looking out the window in Bewitched. Today, every cell phone has a camera and every person has a cell phone thus making it possible for any action to be captured by anybody. Boundaries between public and private space blur and the  doors are thrown open for ubiquitous self-surveillance as we all willingly post every detail of our lives on FaceBook or otherwise. The panopticon conceptualized by Michel Foucault (wherein we live with the idea of being watched and adjusting our behavior accordingly) has seduced us. Philip Agre in Surveillance and Capture: Two Models of Privacy cautions us as he critiques ways our daily activities are captured and turned into a commodity. 

Gladys Kravitz always watching on "Betwitched"

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