Although I obsessively shut my blinds at night to prevent passers-by from seeing inside my house, I love looking through the windows of others! There is something so human about capturing moments of peoples’ lives framed within the confines of a window, whether the moments be as quaint as folding laundry or as ridiculous as singing karaoke.
Something that I really wish I could have seen this summer was the Tate Modern exhibit, Exposed : Voyeurism, Surveillance and the Camera. Here is an excerpt of the official press release:
Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance and the Camera will explore themes of eroticism, celebrity and conflict, as well as instances of surveillance in the world around us. Taking the idea of the unseen photographer as its starting point, the show will include images of clandestine, informal or candid situations, impromptu and even intimate moments. It will feature a wide range of works made by photographers who have worked in ingenious and inventive ways, often using small or easily concealed cameras. The exhibition will explore the ambiguity of exposing private moments to public scrutiny and will examine the complex issues raised by voyeuristic looking. It will focus on examples of erotic photography, on the cult of celebrity and the paparazzi, and recent works engaging with the phenomenon of surveillance.
I remember a couple years ago in Kelowna, there was huge controversy over the City’s decision to install cameras around Queensway, a high-crime area downtown. Debates spanned over months. Cameras were installed, removed, reinstalled, vandalized, reinstalled, etc, until the issue became old news and everyone forgot about it. Now, only a few years later, nobody questions cameras stationed at street corners or within buildings. Surveillance has become the norm.
So I guess my take on voyeurism is a redefined not-in-my-backyard stance; I do not want to be on the film, but I wouldn’t mind playing the photographer.
Here are some of my favourite voyeuristic photographs featured in the exhibit…
Chris Verene, Untitled (Red Back), 1997
Shizuka Yokomizo, Stranger No.1, 1998
Harry Callahan, Atlanta, 1984