Project (A) – Personal Approach

In terms of the future conceptual and physical development of our project, I intend to hone in upon three major motifs – VOYEURISM, FOURTH WALL and PERFORMANCE ART.

Voyeurism:

I wish to draw upon PRIVACY as a social construct, in turn addressing this modern culture of mediated voyeurism a culture that values watching electronic images of other people’s private and revealing moments.

Clay Calvert, in his book Voyeur Nation: Media, Privacy, and Peering in Modern Cultureargues that voyeurism at the beginning of the twenty-first century extends beyond the body and can be understood as “the consumption of revealing images of and information about others’ apparently real and unguarded lives, often yet not always for the purposes of entertainment but frequently at the expense of privacy and discourse…”

Instead of interaction and discussion, preference is given to spectating. Although not all acts of voyeurism are without consent, other cases include individuals who willingly let others watch. These people, exhibitionists, sacrifice their privacy with consent.

CONTEMPORARY VOYEURISM AND DESTRUCTIVE LEISURE:

Adrian Piper, a conceptual artist and analytic philosopher explains the diminishing desirability of an object/subject through the term “marginal utility”. Eroticism is present when fulfilment is prolonged; when desire is satiated, the utility is diminished and eroticism disappears.

Piper argues that objects have a certain “mystery” around them. She describes this “mystery of the objects” as the objects containing “their own inner workings and unique qualities.” To view these objects is to search out and understand the objects’ peculiar logic and structure in order to discern whatever makes these objects unique.

That is where voyeurism comes into play. We look, we view, we gaze, because we are attracted to the mystery of the object. We wish to understand or solve the mystery surrounding the object. As such, we view objects “in order to satisfy our desire for new and innovative perceptual experience, or our desire to expand our perceptual sensitivity to our surroundings, or for aesthetic or intellectual stimulation.”

Disrupting fulfilment and the idea of the “impossible encounter” is important; when desire is satiated, the utility is diminished and the feeling of eroticism or wanting disappears. Fulfilment becomes two pronged — it satisfies the desire while tragically eliminating the erotic.

As people desire to reveal more about their lives and give permission to be watched by others, their sense of individualism or moral worth may be in a state of decline.

Fourth Wall:

The fourth wall is a performance convention in which an invisible, imagined wall separates actors from the audience. While the audience can see through this “wall”, the convention assumes, the actors act as if they cannot.

This idea of separation, infiltration, distance, consent, invasion and privacy – all active and evanescent within the spectacle of performance art.

Performance Art:

Marina Abramovic “I’m an object, you can do whatever you want with me”

Carolee Schneemann – Meat Joy. I find this wildly relevant to our project.

References:

Milanes, P. 2011, The Reveal Voyeurism and Society, Carleton University (Canada)

Su, P.J. 2012, Mediated Voyeurism on Social Networking Sites: The Possible Social Needs and Potential Motivations of the Voyeurs on Facebook, Rochester Institute of Technology.

Baruh, L. 2007, The guilty pleasure of watching like Big Brother: Privacy attitudes, voyeurism and reality programs, University of Pennsylvania.

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