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This reflects a major social change in embodiment processes and the shaping of self-perception.
Guy Sticherz, author of Today, even a brief scan of a few Facebook pages will yield a lot more.
While technology may be able to explain some of that increase, there is something else at play.
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 it is in fact, these very characteristics that facilitate a connectedness, a community, an identity and an acceptance for many.
From ski resorts to surfing beaches, harbors to airports, commercial centers to suburban neighborhoods, and from random street corners to the living rooms and bedrooms of millions of people around the world. Capanella captured it well when he wrote, “[I have] never set foot in Jerusalem, yet on most days I see the faithful gather at its Western Wall.” (discussed later in this paper), argues that the virtualization of communication, its disengagement from material physical encounters and its increasingly distributed proliferation is synonymous with the loss of “meaningful intersubjective connections.” Others, with which I concur, argue the opposite.
These self-portraits (still or moving) are often made in the “privacy” of the bedroom or bathroom, but then posted or live-streamed onto one or more of thousands of public access websites, the equivalent of a global Main Street.
I posit that some thinly veiled false perception of privacy remains when we are behind our computer screens, enabling a self-rationale that justifies broadcasting our most intimate and vulnerable moments into the most public of domains.
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.