WearCam concept: Maybe camera

The following are experiments that the writer has conducted and purposely taken to the extreme in order to (a) illustrate a point and (b) experience reactions and observations first hand. It is not likely that the average reader would go to these extremes but some more subtle variations of these experiments will still provide similar insight or reactions.

Maybe Camera

You cannot patent a mere ``idea'', but, rather, the idea must first be reduced to practice. Similarly, you cannot copyright an idea, it must first manifest itself as some tangible form. Conceptual art, however, provides us with a means where the idea itself is the contribution.
(See also a picture of maybecamera shirts on exhibit at Gallery TPW, as well as other pictures of maybecameras and domewear)

The above piece is entitled ``Maybe Camera --- Who's Paranoid?''. Just as the customer doesn't know what's in the mysterious ceiling dome of wine-dark opacity, and must therefore be on his best behaviour at all times, so too, the shopkeeper doesn't know what's inside the customer's shirt, and likewise must be on his best behaviour at all times.

Probably Camera

Depending on the level of paranoia, if `Maybe-Camera...' is not ``understood'' by your audience, then perhaps the following conceptual/performance/reflectionist piece would be: The above piece is called `Probably Camera --- Who's Paranoid?'. Probably Camera and Maybe Camera can be worn together of course, since one uses the front of the body, while the other uses the back.

No Camera

Dan Graham uses video time delay together with mirrors, etc., to create a delay between cause and effect. His video feedback involves both senses of the word ``feedback'': (1) the cameras ``sees'' the screen which is displaying the output from the camera, and (2) the users who see themselves on the screen adjust their behaviour according to this psychological ``feedback''. A conceptual piece, involving time-delay, to symbolize the disjointness between cause and effect that video recording creates is now described: The piece is called `No Camera --- Who's Paranoid?'.

`My manager'

`My Manager', borrows from the Stellarc/Elsenaar tradition in performance art: not just that the author's `third eye' might be analogous to Stellarc's third hand, but, more importantly, that the body is controlled remotely. `My Manager' allows participants to, via Radio TeleTYpe (RTTY), become managers and remotely contribute to the creation of a documentary video in an environment under totalitarian surveillance (where photography, video, etc., other than by the totalitarian regime is prohibited). The artist is metaphorically a puppet on a ``string'' (to be precise, a puppet on a wireless data connection) who, for example, dutifully marches into the establishment in question, goes over to the stationery department, selects a pencil for purchase, and marches past the magazine rack without stopping to browse the magazines. In this example, he has been sent on an errand to purchase a pencil for a higher and unquestionable authority. When challenged by the department store's infrastructure, as to the purpose of the cameras he is wearing, the artist indicates that his manager requires him to wear the apparatus so that she can make sure that he does not stop and read magazines while he is performing errands on company time. Just as representatives in an organization absolve themselves of responsibility for their surveillance systems by blaming surveillance on managers or others higher up their official hierarchy, the artist absolves himself of responsibility for taking pictures of these representatives without their permission because it is the remote manager(s) together with the thousands of viewers on the World Wide Web who are taking the pictures. The subjects of the pictures, for example, department store managers, who had previously stated that ``only criminals are afraid of video cameras'', or that the use of video surveillance is beyond their control, either implicate themselves of their own accusations by showing fear in the face of a camera, or acknowledge the undesirable state of affairs that can arise from cameras that function as an extension of a higher and unquestionable authority. If their response is one of fear and paranoia, they are handed a form, entitled RFD (Request For Deletion) which they may use to make a request to have their pictures deleted from the artist's manager's database (they are informed the images have already been transmitted to the manager and cannot be deleted by the artist). The form asks them for name, social security number, and the reason for which they'd like to have their images deleted, and requests that they sign a section certifying that the reason is not one of concealing criminal activity, such as hiding the fact that their fire exits are illegally chained shut. Through `reflectionism' the department store attendant/representative sees himself/herself in the bureaucratic ``mirror'' created by the artist who is a puppet on a (wireless) ``string''. `My Manager' forces attendants/maintainers/supporters of the video `Surveillance Superhighway', with all of its rhetoric and bureaucracy, to realize or admit that they are ``puppets'' for a brief instant, and confront the reality of what their blind obedience leads to.

Firing Squad

A number of individuals who may or may not be wearing cameras that may or may not be transmitting to what may or may not be a WWW site, may or may not reduce crime.
Project funded, in part, by the Council for the Arts at MIT.
Privacy issues of wearable cameras versus surveillance cameras.
See also, List Visual Arts Center exhibit and essay of invited plenary lecture at Ars Electronica 97, both of which feature "maybe camera" and "probably camera" embodiments.