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Hitomi Hasegawa
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PEEP SHOW
Has the Computer become the Contemporary Peep Box?
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Further, the amount of available content has increased dramatically with the turn to the internet. The entertainment offered by television or film is packaged and broadcast or screened in a fixed format with a predictable production quality. In contrast, upload sites and blogs are made up of a raw mixture of materials of varying standards. This rawness provides its own type of scopophilia - an ability to spy on the world more directly. As the amount of available material is so large, the entirety of what is available always remains unknown, meaning the pleasure of discovering the unexpected is also woven into the experience. Surprising finds can then easily be tweeted, posted on blogs, mailed to a friend. With the internet overflowing with information on people's personal lives - on friend's blogs, photographs, status updates - there are countless opportunities to peek directly into the private lives of others.

As a means of satisfying visual desire, the internet appears to be an optimal contemporary medium. But one thing we must not forget is that the internet is always connected to an external world. Google's e-mail service, Gmail, sends not only e-mail but a stream of tailored advertising based on the content of a user's messages. The American artist Cory Arcangel reportedly once tried writing in an e-mail that he was feeling suicidal, and immediately received many ads for psychiatrists. China's attempts to censor the internet and e-mail are well known. In America, the government monitors the internet use of known pedophiles. The possibility always remains that someone might gain access to our varied computer activities - our schedule and personal messages, documents, passwords, and keyword searches.

Moreover, current personal computers often come with built-in cameras. Skype and web casting services use web cams and microphones. These open up troubling new possibilities for surveillance. Is someone out there literally watching our private lives? Technically speaking this is not impossible.[7] For example, the United States government often attaches small microphones to the mobile phones of suspected terrorists, allowing conversations both on and off the phone to be monitored at all times. These and other simple recording devices allow others to not only watch, but listen in on all our conversations, our online purchases and travel plans, what search terms we use, who we are connecting with, what is happening in our personal lives, what kind of work we are doing... what if someone could track everything that we are doing with our computer? Would this be used to better market products to us? Or even to control us? This is not far from the world George Orwell envisioned.


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