I'm a journalist investigating how people routinely cover their webcams to protect themselves from surveillance, or photos being taken of them by malware, companies, hackers, police, or government. If you send me a photo, I'll use it as the basis for an article I'm writing about NSA (National Security Agency) and corporate privacy violations through webcams as well as an art project.
How to take a photo:
1. Please navigate to the main search page of Google* on your laptop
2. Please take a photo of the entire screen, including the covered webcam. It's okay to cut off the keyboard.
3. Email the image to me in a blank email with the subject "Covered Webcams" at firstname.lastname@example.org, OR post the image to art webpage https://www.facebook.com/pages/Contemporary-Experimental-Art-Archive/207826019279384 OR a link to the pic to my website in the comments section of this blog
*The reason Google is chosen is because of its participation in NSA's PRISM program that collected and stored private citizen's communications.
If you want a credit or updates on the project, tell me and send your name in the email body.
Film criticism has been practiced by Siskel and Ebert, and by Bevis and Butthead, but now phiosophers like Slavoj Zizek have taken on the role, in his film The Pervert's Guide to Ideology (2012).
Is it the purpose of philosophy to take the values of characters in a film as the concrete representations of the values of the entire culture?
This is like judging the culture in Isarel during the biblical era by the bible, in which people live to be 300, walk on water, and talk with flaming bushes.
In The Pervert's Guide to Ideology Zizek's more interesting point is that either complicity or rejection of the films somehow affects the behaviour of the viewers.
Zizek's stated view that we alternately identify with and reject the representations of the capitalist upper class is meaningless: it is stating the obvious spectrum of reactions of diverse people to diverse content.
It seems arbitrary that we should identify with the capitalist upper class in "Titanic" but abhor them in "They live".
Zizek's point that we are affected by films, even along lines that fall with our capitalist beliefs, would be interesting if supported by evidence.
For example: Plato criticised the affect of plays on people, he didn't take the plays as an incredibly accurate depiction of reality; au contraire, he said they were sensationalist junk.
Why doesn't Zizek interview people about their reactions to film and approval ratings, as that would be the evidence for his claims. In every single movie he says: this movie shows the upper class suppressing the lower class but its doubtful the main emotional reaction of the majority people are getting out of the theatre after watching mainstream films is one of capitalist revolt or complicity, even subconsciously.
Its more interesting to talk to people about it rather than take cultural producers as the authorities on on values.When I feel like psychoanalysing the mass consciousness, I will base it on what people actually do and say, not on what they are forced to consume because it is served on their plate by coroporate Hollywood.
The goal of philosophy is "to contribute to the flourishing of mankind." Cultural criticism of films is more like a descriptive than prescriptive and the reflects moral lethargy of relativist philosophers.
A lot of academia, which has forsaken teaching about reality, resorts to teaching us how to express our emotional reaction to things. In this I include most of the humanities besides history: psychology, sociology, anthropology, film studies and art theory. In an nutshell, this species of academia takes on as its task the analysis of culture: whether it is artistic and literary works, ancient ancient ceramics, paintings or photographs.
This kind of analysis projects meanings onto past works. However, this is acceptable when the artist is dead, but when the artist is alive, and perhaps has a different view. Can one legitimately say Tracy Emin in her works intends a revolt against mysoginy, if Tracy Emin disagrees?
Maybe she subconsciously meant this, you say, but does academia, really give you the right to be an authority to anayslse her subconscious, or does it merely give you an undeserved platform to spout your uninformed, emotional reaction?
Zizek is fond of taking the values of the entire culture and transposing them onto a filmmaker's artistic work, a disservice to the author of the film.
Art theory is more or less the same: just someone's opinion or reaction to what they have seen, not reflecting some eternal truth supported by evidence and facts, which necessarily have to be drawn from reality, not from someone's fiction.
Adding my voice to the people who have a whole lot of nothing to say about today's surprisingly vibrant digital 'youth culture', I have to say I find it kind of mean.
Today's popular art seems to be guided by the instinct to defy corporate cliches with slightly repulsive, usually digital, images. This continues the theme of irony which fed contemporary art for at least as far back as the surrealists, and continued through the 1950s in forms such as collage, such as Richard Hamilton's iconic muscleman lifting a lollipop.
Ever since, art has set itself the task of beating expectations, to appeal to our sense of irony, humour, or delight.
But I think what makes it different today is that, in this populist online art movement, people are doing it with video and digital images online like Andy Warhol in a bad mood gone viral.
Tougher-to-beat expectations for what will reasonably offend and shock the public, as well as the digital medium which provides a whole new way of discovering and artistically exploiting intimate thoughts and images from the lives of others, means that people have taken a no-holds barred, race-to-the-bottom approach on designing art's new "irony.'
No gentle mocking of Warholesque screen sirens with bright punk makeup, or some light-handed, wry take on consumer culture, a la Duchamp. This goes beyond the cultural 'dirty laundry' of today's kids into posting of outdated computer graphics, badly designed corporate advertisements, and other corporate artistic fuck-ups.
You'll get people taking the dirty laundry of the common people, you and I, our neighbors, our kids, the online dirty laundry, out to dry for kicks, and ironically curating it as 'art'.
They're saying, forget corporate jazz, let's go right to the antithesis of popular culture: real people. Fat people, people with diseases, poor and suffering people, disfigured people, plastic surgery failure victims, and people with mutations. Online neologisms or behaviors exhibited by marginalized social groups, like the young, the unattractive, the very old, prostitutes or black people are display in an ironic way. People of all classes doing stupid things mainly, but generally without any intent of posing as subjects of speculation beyond their circle of friends. Particular interest is paid to people who post, tweet, or text in unusual, or upload images in unflattering ways.
It's as though, already jaded by the aggressiveness of digital reproduction, the public is revolting against the machine reproduced art by artistically disfiguring it or posting its polar opposite in a defiant proof of human superiority: our instinct to pinpoint the weirdly real. A permutation of reality that, just because it is real and reality is weird and unexpected, a computer could never reproduce.
The public retaliates against corporations, tries to restore its senses, dulled by repetition, by plunging to new depths of the ironically weird. The wonderful has gone sour and now people crave destruction of culture, not just defaming of traditional art, but defaming of traditional consumer culture, in the form of non-sequitor that is intended to disgust and delight, because it is weird.
This means an exciting new premium is placed on the purely visually weird, if not straightforwardly iconoclastic. That's good news: aren't we all getting bored?
However, while I wouldn't normally have a problem with this - that's all part of freedom of expression - I kind of draw the line at mutiliated children and personal tragedy put on page with Gatoride or Nike wallpaper intended for ironic cultural criticism.
On the one hand, people doing this are not all that iconoclastic, as by classing outcasts by their appearances and online behaviors and shaming corporations with their own ugliness, they perpetuate the popular culture that places a premium on attractive appearances and consumerism. on some basic level, disadvantaged (poor or diseased) people who find the honest presentations of themselves curated as ironic art are likely to find it insulting, hurtful, and politically incorrect.
On the positive side, it allows us a means for having an interest in ugliness or disadvantagedness in ways that glamourise and popularise it through sheer reputation. It has the potential to make us aware, or maybe less ambivalent, towards margilaised people.
This kind of art poses a deeper ethical and social problem: If consumer culture isn't true, and art, as counterculture to consumer culture, is just gross, does it mean that we have no outlet to positively reflect our values through art in any way other than 'Not this'?
This is an excerpt from a performance I did at Kumu Art Museum in Tallinn, Estonia in October for a weekend-long event curated by Dimanche Rouge. While the video is a bit lacking, if you realise that white round object is a clock, it is pretty self-explanatory. It reflects some of my less subtle feelings about sensory deprivation and routine. Someone nicely left a bucket from the previous performance, adding to my proletariat aesthetic.
We increasingly tend to express ourselves on the internet via proxy of something else very quickly, having images as basic components and building blocks of our expression. The process of expression is also a process of consummation. We are presented with someone else's emotion, which we consume and experience on the fly, then regurgitate . Our expression is impregnated with the shades of the expression of others which we use as the medium for our expression although we usually personalise it by changing its context. At the same time, we express much more quickly than before, and perhaps incompletely.
The impact of this way of expressing is to lessen the emotion experienced and also to express it without having completed the thought or savoured the roundness of a feeling. The quickly assembled pages which convey our emotions out of aggregate parts, such as the tumblr below, are collages, and a collage is more or less expressionless.
Rather, there is emotion in a collage, but it is a bit tongue in cheek, or sarcastic as the ideas seem to contradict each other. Film and writing are perhaps the last bastions of emotion as they encourage viewers to experience an single, cohesive emotion for up to several minutes. The internet gives the the truncating or mixing of emotional expression in a simultaneity, and it does not requrie more than a few seconds of our attention.
Expressing a multiplicity of contradictory emotions is not new or particular to the internet. Literary works like Shakespeare's Hamlet have recognized that we are naturally subject to contradictory feelings.
However, never have so many at once expressed emotion so often, nor have so many expressed, in collage, a confusion of feelings or anoesis before: or have they all expressed contradictory ideas like sadness and happiness, ambivalence, pain and pleasure rather than the organized and considered presentation of happiness or sadness in some concrete form.
All humans are encumbered and unburdened by their digital bodies which allow them to visualise more and yet touch less than before.
Digital manipulation adds the mind to the image, the vision to the thought, and leaves the body.
Photo credit: Anna Trevelyan
The artist's need to make original art and the commerical need to escape crisis are directly related.
Based on the 2008 debut albums of Rihanna and Gaga, two aesthetically strange phenomena produced by the fusion of corporate culture and art that is the mainstream, versus the previous 10 years of pop-cultural sameness, economic crisis has been good for Western Art because it made corporations and audiences look for a new artistic solution, a new perspective to replace ways of thinking that clearly didn't benefit them, and brought them economic failure.
Likewise, within the European Avant-Garde new ideas wouldn't have existed without the dynamic post-WWI, post-Depression crisis environment. In fact some (surrealism, futurism) developed elements in response to war (Guernica, . Picasso was anti-war, Dali was pro-war, but the point was they lived in distressing times, and had opinions on them that fueled their imperative to innovate.
This means that artistic revolution isn't as linked to technology and fashion as some suggest: it's linked to the capital needs of the collective and to factors beyond our control.
You could say that industrialism and positive economic growth were as much a part of artisitc succes, but that wasn't true, the 1950s and 1990s were periods of American hegemony and economic wealth that seemed stymed, cloistered, repressed artistically in the US.
I think we culturally privilege consumed media over the consumer. After the consumation is through though, the consumed is only an interest, and eventually not even that. The consumed is expendable and the relationship with it is superficial and short. Far from worshiping movies, bands and art, I don't economically support it as much as I do telecoms, and usually my interest dies in a year. The reason we feign obsessive interest in things which we don't truly care about shows the success of advertising in teaching us to worship the consumed.
This year I am working on digitally manipulating my own photography. I have found ways of blurring and distorting photographs, and making translucent materials, which I want to use as textural paint in figurative photoshop drawings.