Webcam reallife 24 7
A Google search for “live webcams” yields 622 million results, almost ten times more than a search for “contemporary photography”.
In this paper I will explore the evolving and growing relationship between the two.
It is worth remembering that Benjamin positioned this as a positive change brought about by technology. If Benjamin’s mechanical age introduced the transformation of authenticity through reproduction, the digital age that is now upon us brought about the opportunity to produce and distribute ourselves as copies.
It is no coincidence that the dominant genre of imagery posted or streamed on the web is self-portraiture, not long ago the domain primarily of art photographers.
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They are placed at perfect vantage points in exotic lands from the Norwegian Fjords to the North Pole, from animal watering holes across the African plains to the pyramids of Egypt.
While in the 1960s, such behavior would have been thought of as too self-aggrandizing, today it is considered an integral part of identity development, offering the promise of impact, relevance, connectedness and meaning. This representation of the self, often sexual in nature, has blurred the already fuzzy line between public and private.
The proliferation of webcams has been driven largely by the way in which they offer instant nourishment that feeds our scopophilic desire for permanent direct access to the whole visual field, while helping to engender feelings of intimacy, connectedness, community and belonging.
By definition, the scopophilic drive is a cyclical one, never satisfied beyond the short-term, thus helping push further adoption and usage of webcams.
That physicality takes as many forms as there are subject categories.
A simple web search for feeds from live cameras yields tens of thousands, probably many more.