Watching the Web Watch Me
Explorations of the Domestic Web Cam
by Andreas Kitzmann

The story is more than familiar by now. Cyberspace, the term used to represent a wide range of technological practices, from talking on the telephone to donning a VR helmet, offers a means with which to finally separate the mind from the body and thus enter into a world paradoxically united by the forces of fragmentation, disembodiment and ever shifting, mutating identities. More often than not, cyberspace is presented as a place of empowerment, as a place where limits and constraints can be overcome or, at least, temporarily re-routed by virtue of unrestrained simulation and fantasy. The flip side of such a story is, for the most part, a dystopian mirror image where, as in the film The Matrix, cyberspace is a conspiratorial delusion that results in the enslavement of the entire human race. In such a scenario, cyberspace is something which robs us of our essential humanity, of the ability to enjoy a life of real human community and interaction.

This tension between the real and the virtual, between technology and the body, between the human and the post-human or cyborg, is loaded with issues and arguments that could fuel countless seminars and academic debates, and thus not one that I can hope even to summarise in the brief space of this chapter. What I would like to do instead is offer a kind of off-shoot to this debate via a brief exploration of the phenomena of home based web-cams, or as I prefer to call them, "domestic web cams." Domestic web cams are small video cameras that are connected to the web in such a way that they transmit their images to web sites accessible to the public. The cameras and resultant images range from crude black and white snapshots that are taken on a periodic basis (say every minute) to "streaming" (or live) full colour cameras that are switched on 24 hours a day. At the top end of the scale, so-called robotic cams are also available, which allow web surfers some degree of control over individual cameras, such as the ability to zoom in or to change the viewing direction.

The aim of this chapter is to highlight how domestic web cams represent an attempt to cultivate within the World Wide Web a lived, social space where both the physical body and the singular, stable identity or subject are privileged and perhaps even celebrated. Such a phenomenon is in contrast to the common idea that our contemporary, so-called postmodern society is dominated by the aesthetics and conditions of fragmentation and relativism. In such a world, according to the critic Fredric Jameson, individual subjects, (that is, you and I) are unable to map or to

coherently understand the increasing complexity of global society and are thus subject to varying degrees of displacement, anxiety and a sense of loss. [1] The consequences of such incoherence are varied, but are generally described by postmodern theorists as a world in which both identity and experience are fragmented, shallow and no more than a play of images and surface details. Many of the distinctions that have previously given meaning to our existence are either gone or blurred into one another by virtue of the relentless barrage of media and commercial forces. Indeed, according to the media critic Douglas Kellner, the majority of postmodern theorists see the condition of the contemporary self as a meaningless but intense spectacle of illusion and contradiction.

Postmodern theorists claim that subjects have imploded into masses (Baudrillard 1983b), that a fragmented, disjointed, and discontinuous mode of experience is a fundamental characteristic of postmodern culture, of both its subjective experiences and texts (Jameson 1983, 1991). It is argued that in postmodern media and information society one is at most a

"term in the terminal" (Baudrillard 1983c), of a cyberneticized effect of "fantastic systems of control (Kroker and Cook 1986). . . ." In these theories, identity is highly unstable and has in some postmodern theories disappeared altogether in the "postmodern scene . . . [2]

The issues and debates here are enormous and thus beyond the scope of this chapter. However, what I would briefly like to suggest and demonstrate is that domestic web cams, like many other internet or web based phenomena, can be read as a tactic or act of resistance on the part of real life individuals, to counteract the complexity of global society and, more specifically, the fragmenting, identity shifting nature of digital environments such as the World Wide Web.

To put this more directly, domestic web cams provide a means with which to present oneself as a unified, grounded and whole individual whose identity is fixed by virtue of the real time documentation provided by the web cam and, in many cases, by the relentless commentaries and personal journals that often accompany web cam sites. By making such a statement I am entering into a debate with much of the "identity blending" rhetoric of cyber discourse as typified by the work of Sandi Stone or Michael Heim who both claim that the new information

technologies provide a means with which to escape the limits imposed by material existence and thus to explore realms that have yet to be imagined. [3] Such claims are described by Marie-Laure Ryan as indicative of the "predominantly anti-Cartesian mood in contemporary culture" that seeks identity via attributes anchored in the human body.

If cyberculture matters for the question of identity, it is because electronic technologies have the power of producing virtual doubles of the human body, such as the enhanced (and to some, diminished) bodies of VR, or the textually created character-descriptions of the MOOs. In a culture that worships the slick surface of things, that equals being to presenting, that replaces the idea of a true self hidden in the depth of interiority with a decentered self acting out its many roles in public performance, identity is tied to the body,

and the body is an image molded from the raw material of inherited physical properties. Bodies are now conceived as changeable, disposable commodities, and stepping into a new body means adopting a new identity. [4]

The point here, however, is not to negate such arguments but rather to assert that the technologies of the internet and the web are also powerful arenas with which to affirm a fixed, centered and "true" self within cyberspace. The crucial assertion here is that such an affirmation is as equally empowering as the much more frequently discussed examples of non-linearity and multiplicity. Attention is thus given to the flip side of the digital coin — a side that leads me to the question of how cyberspace can be used as a means to foster continuity, stability and coherence, or at least the illusion thereof. In this respect, one could position the phenomena of domestic web cams in a reactionary light in the sense that they could be seen as attempts to counter the fluidity and uncertainty of web identities by way of self representations that at least appear to be fixed in space, place and time.

A Place for the Family: The Nuclear Family in the Digital Age

"A camera in our living room, a capture board, an Internet connection, a little software and what do you get? A family's home on the Web! Welcome to our living room. People seem to show up in the evening. Send us email and enjoy relaxing at our house." [5]

In many ways, the Living Room Cam is a good example of what Howard Rheingold referred to as "homesteading" on the so-called electronic or digital frontier. [6] At present, the Living Room Cam offers two entries into the home of the "Adams' Family" — the owners of the web cam — the first being regularly updated snapshots of, as we would expect, the living room and the second, of the kitchen. In addition to the two web cams, there is also a stockpile of vacation pictures and extensive coverage of Christmas celebrations. With such efforts, the owners of the Living Room Cam are almost literally staking a claim for their own home on the digital range, a place where they can not only pursue their own interests but also safeguard themselves against the untamed wilderness of the World Wide Web. As such, the Living Room Cam is as much a site for personal expression as it is a refuge for good old fashioned family values. Consider, for example, the following declaration by the Adams’ Family.

"There are places for porn. There are places for war. There are even places for twinkies. One can’t be sure that this is a place to raise your kids. But we take a stand! Amidst the Adult Bookstores and the Shopping Malls, the Adams’ claim a place for our family and what we want on the web!"

The battle lines are thus clearly drawn, with the Adams’ family resolutely positioned against the evil triad of sexual immorality, violence and the excesses of commercialism — a stance that bears more than just a passing resemblance to contemporary debates regarding the effects of the media on the nation’s moral fibre. More to the immediate point, however, is that the Adams’ commitment to cultivating the virtual version of the ideal American home, with its nuclear family, clipped lawns, backyard barbecues and neighbourly camaraderie, is representative of what I see as one of the more common elements of domestic web cams. The Living Room Cam, along with many other "family oriented" cams, can be characterised by the concept of "familialism" which is used by Patricia Zimmermann in her study of amateur film. In brief, Zimmermann uses the term to argue that the phenomenon of home movies during the 1940’s and 50’s was partially driven by the "transference of the idea of the integrated family unit as a logical structure onto other activities." In this way, the family offered a kind of cultural and ideological template for a range of

social activities and organisations with the technology of home movies (and later videos) serving as just one method with which to secure such a template within the popular imagination. A major effect of such an affirmation was the emphasis of the family as one of the main avenues for personal development and meaning. [7]

Popular ideology resurrected the family as an invention signifying the quest for fulfilment of subjective needs and the satisfaction of desires for meaningful social interactions. The popularised notion of togetherness epitomised this ideology of the family as an emotional lifeboat in an automated, efficient, and distant society. [8]

Zimmermann’s analysis here resonates considerably with many domestic web cams oriented around the presentation and expression of the family unit. Both the "Family Cam" and the "Dreesman Cam" for instance, are veritable shrines to the model family. [9] In addition to the views provided by the respective web cams, both sites are packed with snapshots of family members, babies, pets, relatives and vacations. Many of the photographs not captured by the web cam are scanned in snapshots or formal studio portraits which are often captioned with whimsical and deliberately endearing anecdotes.

In many ways, web sites like the "Family Cam," bear an analogous relationship to the living room fireplace or other such traditional sites for displaying cherished moments and individuals to anyone who might visit the home. Indeed, like the "Living Room Cam," the introductory text for the site likens the experience of moving through the web site to a virtual visit to the actual home, indicating that what awaits the web surfer parallels that which awaits the potential visitor to the real house located somewhere in the suburbs of Milan, Michigan. The experience then, of either the virtual or real life visit bears a striking similarity to one another. Both affirm the singularity and integrity of the family unit — an affirmation punctuated by the linear documentation of the family’s progress through life via births, school, graduation, holidays, retirements and so forth. Both also establish the home and the family as sites of stability and identity, places where the world, with all its complexities and contradictions, is momentarily resisted and subdued.

Such a tactic is by most accounts a reactionary one in that it positions the largely contrived stability and coherence of the conservative family unit against the potentially radical spaces of cyberspace and virtual reality. In this sense, the recourse of employing the family as a means to resist change and to preserve normative values is familiar, especially within the cultural and political landscapes of North America. Within such a context, the family is more than just a biological or social phenomenon but rather a representative and a carrier of a comprehensive range of nationalistic, moral and ideological agendas. As Lauren Berland and Michael Warner

have pointed out, the family has "functioned as a mediator and metaphor of national existence in the United States since the eighteenth century," and is thus instrumental in the very ordering of society itself. [10] One essential trope or theme here is that of intimacy, especially the intimacy of the normative and idealised heterosexual couple.

Ideologies and institutions of intimacy are increasingly offered as a vision of the good life for the destabilized and struggling citizenry of the United States, the only (fantasy) zone in which a future might be thought and willed, the only (imaginary) place where good citizens might be produced away from the confusing and unsettling distractions and contradictions

of capitalism and politics. Indeed, one of the unforeseen paradoxes of national-capitalist privatization has been that citizens have been led through heterosexual culture to identify both themselves and their politics with privacy. [11]

Berland’s and Warner’s notion of the intimate family space as a fantasy zone takes on a special resonance in the case of domestic web cams. Most family oriented web cams are used to portray what could be read as the imaginary ideal of family unity and devotion and, as such, are more virtual than real. It is rare to find a family web site that documents the inevitable conflicts, fights and tensions that every family goes through. What is offered instead is either a consistent stream of celebratory moments — birthdays, holidays, vacations — or the comforting regularity of everyday life. The family, thus, remains whole, consistent and representative of a way of life that is underscored by essentially conservative values. Given the main concern of this chapter, what is relevant here is that domestic web cams allow private individuals to further construct and disseminate a narrative or ideology that, at least according to Berland and Warner, is usually the domain of the official voices of society such as those of the media and organised politics. In addition, domestic family cams offer a staunch resistance to many of the more sexually explicit web sites that have fuelled so much of the hysteria over the Web’s potential threat to conventional morality. In this sense the message and the medium of the family is brought home where it can be nurtured, sanitised and attended to as never before.

Me Cams: Watch Me as I am Happening

You and Phaedra were lying on the couch together when I came in and Dominique came in shortly after. Then you guys left, possibly for your evening stroll. The technological side of all this is mind boggling to me and I am very impressed with all the effort that you have put into it. And while I’m not usually a mushy person it’s obvious that you love Phaedra very

much and sharing that with anyone that comes by has got to mean a lot to her. Sharing all the things that you love about her and the way that she makes you feel really brings the world into your heart. [12]

This heartfelt comment by "Karla," included in the guest book of "SynCity," a multiple web cam site run by a programmer at Intel, represents what is perhaps one of the most seductive aspects of domestic web cams, namely the opportunity to vicariously participate in the private moments of what appear to be real people with real lives. The emphasis on reality is important here, because unlike the role playing scenarios of MOOs or even chat groups, domestic web cams are based on the assertion and belief that what you see is really what there is. Indeed, one of the functions of the web cam is to confirm this assertion by virtue of simultaneity which is to say, what you see is actually happening right now. In a commentary on the well known "Jenni cam," Patricia Williams of The Nation notes that Jennifer Ringley’s on going documentation of her life approaches a kind of relentless archive of the self in a manner that reminds me of the Borges story of the king who becomes obsessed with producing a full scale map of his country and thus brought about the ruin or erasure of his entire kingdom.

She (Jenni) describes her "experiment" like some sober archivist clinically preserving the bits and pieces of herself, leaving nothing to the imagination, smoothing her life into an

unbroken whole, an unblinking Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth. Perhaps her anxiety about going to the store is understandable if one thinks of it as creating a hole in her account, a gap in her virtual existence." [13]

Williams comment is informative in the sense that it stresses the unifying nature of Jenni’s experiment, which is to say the ambition (or pretence) of presenting her life as a complete and unbroken whole. In addition, there is the accompanying assumption on the part of the web cam viewer who, like "Karla," referred to earlier, wants to believe that she is a witness to a full-scale and continuous version of a life in full, of a life presented by virtue of the ultimate linear form, which is real time — a time that by definition can only go forwards, one moment, once second, one frame after another.

The role of real time as a central trope for the experience of web cams, domestic or otherwise, counters the emphasis on discontinuity and multiplicity common to many popular and academic representations of cyberspace. For many domestic web cam sites, such as "Erratica," real life

and real time are synonymous with one another and, as well, associated with the representation of the self as a stable, fixed and identifiable entity. [14] Again, what you see and read now really is what there is. Such a connection between reality and simultaneity is given an interesting and thought provoking twist by a web project designed by the architects Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio. In their production of Refresh, Diller and Scofidio have augmented existing web cams located in offices around the country with various fictional scenes, images and narratives. One of the aims of their project was to draw attention to the extent to which notions of authenticity, reality and real time broadcasting are powerfully connected with to another.

For technophobes who blame technology for the collapse of the public sphere, liveness may be the last vestige of authenticity — seeing and/or hearing the event at the precise moment of its occurrence. The un-mediated is the im-mediate. For technophiles, liveness defines

technology’s aspiration to simulate the real . . . in real time. . . . But whether motivated by the desire to preserve the real or to fabricate it, liveness is synonymous with the real — an object of uncritical desire for techno-extremes. [15]

The connection here between "liveness," real time and authenticity takes on a special resonance in the case of domestic web cams in that conceptions of the Self or individual identity are added to the chain of meaning. As an example, we can look at the web cam site of "Tobi," the creator of "Erratica" who provides not only real time images of herself, but also documents her so-called inner self through a series of diary entries, exchanges with chat group members and emotionally charged poetry. The textual content of the site, especially the diary section, has an almost analogous relationship to the live web cam in the sense that the texts offer a kind of psycho-photographic filmstrip or montage of "Tobi’s" interior state of being. Another analogy is with the voice over used in film. As such, the various diaries, journal entries, biographies, CV’s etc. function as a kind of monologue over top the "kaleidoscope" of images on the computer screen. However one wishes to describe it, the effect is of an authentic or "real" individual presenting herself in real time and in real space. Indeed, one of the pre-requisites for becoming part of Tobi’s webring "Tears in the Rain," is the ability and the will to present yourself under the banners of authenticity, immediacy and the "honesty" of real time.

Tears in the Rain is a webring for anyone who knows life but has survived. If you’ve ever cried yourself to sleep but managed to get up the next morning. I am looking for pages that

reflect who you are, your strength, and your struggles through writing, art journals, or some form of expression. So, if you think your site does this, fill out the form below. . . [16]

As stated before, the question of whether or not Tobi "really" exists in the way in which she presents herself on her web page is somewhat beside the point given that domestic web cams are grounded on the premise of reality — a premise that needs to be accepted in order for the experience to "work." Unlike the types of self presentations in the virtual environments of MUDs, for example, domestic web cams privilege the real rather than the fantastic or imaginary as the primary means of self-representation and expression. In other words, domestic web cams use

tropes of reality and authenticity instead of those of fiction, play and simulation. [17] By virtue of such tropes and conceits, domestic web cams function, in the words of Scott McQuire (who himself is appropriating Roland Barthes), as "space-time machines capable of instantiating a potentially infinite chain of eye-witnesses." [18]

Though referring mainly to practices within the field of photography, McQuire’s comment is relevant to domestic web cams in that they are literally "space-time machines" that do not allow the past to age or fade but rather revive it through a continuously updated and accessed archive of the here and now. Such a continuous archive of the present functions as a kind of cryogenic history, or better yet, as the present kept on continual life support in order to prevent it from slipping into the unretrievable past. Thus, by watching Tobi on her web-cam and by accessing her thoughts, hopes and inner tensions via the live "broadcast" of her inner monologue, she is essentially kept within a state of permanent immediacy — a state where time and place become fixed in the here and now and most importantly, the real. Indeed, should we miss any details or lose our connection for one reason or another, Tobi herself is willing to step in, thus insuring that the transmission of her continuously unfolding identity is kept as stable and error free as possible.

So, I guess that’s pretty much my life. Please understand that this is a rough copy and it skims a lot. If you want any more details or have any questions or comments, as always, contact me. [19]

The Place of the Cam

An identity implies not only a location but a duration, a history. A lost identity is lost not only in space, but in time. We might better say in space-time. [20]

Victor Burgin’s evocative passage offers not only a means with which to bring this chapter towards its conclusion but also as a way to highlight the manner in which domestic web cams raise a number of intriguing issues with respect to technology’s place in the private lives of individuals. Again, the main purpose of this chapter is to present the idea that domestic web cams represent a way in which to secure identity both in space and in time within an environment that is often described as achieving exactly the opposite result. In this respect, domestic web cams affirm the value of a fixed and singular identity over the abstract notions of the genderless and bodiless states of being so often championed in both academic and popular material on cyberspace or digital technology. Such an affirmation resonates with some of the concerns raised by Katherine Hayles, in her book How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature and Informatics. Central to her critique is the idea that contemporary Western understandings of the human subject (or individual identity) are based on the notion that "embodiment is not essential to human being." This point can be made clearer by quoting Hayles at length:

Indeed, one could argue that the erasure of embodiment is a feature common to both the liberal human subject and the cybernetic posthuman. Identified with the rational mind, the liberal subject possessed a body but was not usually represented as being a body. Only

because the body is not identified with the self is it possible to claim for the liberal subject its notorious universality, a claim that depends on erasing markers of bodily difference, including sex, race, and ethnicity. [21]

What is striking to me about Hayles discussion of the posthuman subject is that it encapsulates very succinctly what is at stake in the characterisation of cyberspace as primarily a place without bodies, a place where identity is subject to the will or to information rather than in combination with the physical parameters of material conditions — conditions which include those of gender, sex, ethnicity, race and health. For while such an unfixed, immaterial and decentered state of being might well be our future it is, for the moment, not our present, especially for those who do not have the benefit of technological access and the mobility made possible by economic stability. So, despite the hype, we are still bodies in space, place and time — a fact that for the moment still determines the bulk of our individual and collective human destiny. At the same time, however, technologies such as the Internet are altering the equation somewhat and as a result new modes of existence are, at least for some, increasingly within reach. Yet, one consequence of such a transitional state between the real and the virtual is a kind of uneasy tension that manifests itself, at the one end, as utopian excess and at the other, as glum paranoia.

Domestic web cams can be interpreted as one sign or manifestation of such a tension, such a negotiation between a life determined by material conditions and one where these conditions no longer matter in the same way. Thus, the effect of such web sites as the Family Cam, the Living Room Cam, the Beckie Cam, Syn City, and the thousands of other sites that exist, is to underscore the virtual environment of the World Wide Web with constant and persistent references to the real. In other words, domestic web cams have the effect of making the virtual real rather than making the real virtual, thus resisting the claim that virtuality and multiplicity are the only games in town, so to speak. Again, the point here is not to negate the claims that new ways of being are being fostered by new technology but rather to emphasise that linear and grounded states of being and identity are also thriving within the various manifestations of cyberspace. Despite the fact that some domestic web cams, especially those featuring the family, are indicative of a kind of reactionary conservatism and thus representative of hegemonic social and political forces, I am inclined to cast the phenomenon of web cams in a positive light because it indicates to me the power and persistence of the human over that of the technological. In other words, domestic web cams are significant because they privilege tropes and paradigms that are drawn more from human experience rather than from primarily technological domains such as those of cybernetics and virtual reality. In this sense, I am placing the impetus for positive change on human factors rather than purely technological ones which is arguably a reversal of the often utopian notions of technology single handedly ushering in a new age of one sort or another.

Thus, the significance of domestic web cams is not that they represent the will to virtuality, as Arthur Kroker might say, but rather the will to will the virtual real. Such a distinction is far from minor for it stresses the importance of cultivating the web in such a way that it becomes a real place of lived, social spaces, realities, times and identities rather than a fantasy world of commercialised and abstracted illusion.

Additional Sources

Berlant, Lauren and Warner, Michael. "Sex in Public." The Cultural Studies Reader, ed. Simon During. New York: Routledge, 1999.

Black, David, Kunze, Donald and Pickles, John, eds. Common Places: Essays on the Nature of Place. New York: University Press of America, 1989.

Burgin, Victor. In/Different Spaces: Place and Memory in Visual Culture. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.

Duncan, James and Ley, David, ed. Place/Culture/Representation. New York: Routledge, 1993.

Egan, Susanna. "Encounters in Camera: Autobiography as Interaction." Modern Fiction Studies 40 — 3 (1994): 593-618.

Hayles, Katerine. How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999.

Gliddon, Josh. "What is JenniCam? A Short History. APC. July 24, 1997.Online journal. See also "90 Degrees from Everywhere/JenniCam" February 6, 1997

Kahney, Leander. "The Walls have Eyes." The Guardian. 2 July, 1998: 2.

McQuire, Scott. Visions of Modernity. London: Sage Publications, 1998.

Muther, Christopher. "All the Web’s a Stage." The Boston Globe. 24 July, 1998, City ed.: E1.

Rheingold, Howard. Virtual Community: Finding Connection in a Computerised World London: Minerva Press, 1995.

Sidener, Jonathan. "Web cams let you peek into others’ lives." Star Tribune. 1 March, 1999, Metro ed.: 9E.

Swartz, Jon. "Web Cams on Campus — Here’s Looking at You Kid." The San Francisco Chronicle. 15 March. 1999, final ed.:B1.

Talbot, Margaret. "Candid Camera." New Republic. 26 October 1998: 42.

Turkle, Sherry. Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995.

Williams, Patricia. "Name That Curve." The Nation. 20 July 1998: 9.

Zimmerman, Patricia. Reel Families: A Social History of Amateur Film. Bloomington. Indiana University Press, 1995.

Fame After Photography. Exhibition pamphlet. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. July 8-October 5, 1999.

Selected Web Cam Sites

The following sites are just a few examples of web cam sites that are representative of common trends with respect to content and approach. The links are all current as of October 1, 1999. For a general index of web cam sites, see

The Chriscam.

A good example of a web cam site in which the "author" is very aware of his public presence. The site includes an on-line book entitled "How to Be a Webcam Star" and thus offers an interesting insight into the relationship between web cams, fame, private and public space.

Erratica (the Tobi Cam).

Discussed here, "Erratica" is a good example of a life made totally "live" by way of a web cam, diaries, journals, photography and on line chats.

The Living Room Cam.¨lakeoz/

A classic example of the documentation of everyday life with an emphasis on family values and "normal" life.

The Family Cam.

Another good example of a site designed around the affirmation of the family and intimacy.


SynCity is a site which features its own technological expertise via a well designed web interface and 24 hour multiple cams. It is also interesting in terms of how the "authors" of the site sometimes fall between the lines of documentation and performance.

The Beckie Cam.

A rather straightforward and representative example of a diary oriented web cam site in which the "owner" comments on her every day life and provides limited visual access to the site’s visitors.

Diller and Scofidio’s Refresh.

Discussed here in this article, Refresh is an interesting artistic experiment on the relationship between reality, fiction and live documentation.

Anabella and Jessica.

This cam site is typical of those who are aware of their public status and are particularly interested in "fame" within the wider web cam community. In addition to various voting mechanisms, the site also offers visitors the opportunity to purchase various products such as mouse pads, tank tops and sweat shirts which feature logos and images from the web cam.

Brandon Cam.

This site deliberately affirms its conservative and paradoxically private nature by way of the "authors" stated Christian values and his refusal to "entertain requests of any kind." The site is interesting in terms of the presumed correspondence between its content and the "real" person represented by it.

Dark Corner TV.

Self conscious and satirical, this site takes a cynical view of itself making it unclear what is "real" or utterly fabricated. It is interesting in terms of the implied discomfort that the "author" feels about making his life public.


[1] Jameson, Fredric. "Postmodernism, or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism," New Left Review, 146 (1984): 66. return

[2] Kellner, Douglas. Media Culture: Cultural Studies, Identity and Politics Between the Modern and the Postmodern. (New York: Routledge, 1995) 233. The sources cited in the quote are as follows: Baudrillard, Jean. In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities. New York: Semiotext(e), 1983.; Baudrillard, Jean. "The Ecstasy of Communication," in Hal Foster, ed. Anti-Aesthetic. Seattle: Bay Press, 1983; Jameson, Fredric "Postmodernity and the Consumer Society," in Hal Foster, ed; Kroker, Arthur and Cook, David. The Postmodern Scene. New York: Saint Martinís Press, 1986. return

[3] Heim, Michael. Virtual Realism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998); Stone, Allucquere Rosanne. The War of Desire and Technology and the Close of the Mechanical Age (Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1995). return

[4] Ryan, Marie-Laure. "Introduction." Cyberspace Textuality: Computer Technology and Literary Theory, ed. Marie-Laure Ryan (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999) 19. return

[5] The Living Room Cam®lakeoz/lroomcam.htm September 20, 1999. return

[6] Rheingold, Howard. Virtual Community: Finding Connection in a Computerised World (London: Minerva Press, 1995). return

[7] Patricia R. Zimmermann Reel Families: A Social History of Amateur Film (Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1995) 122. return

[8] Zimmermann 133. return

[9] The Family Cam. Oct 1, 1999; The Dreesman Cam. return

[10] Berland, Lauren and Warner, Michael."Sex in Public." The Cultural Studies Reader, ed. Simon During (New York: Routledge, 1999) 356. return

[11] Berland and Warner 359. return

[12] Syn City. "Guest book" Sept. 18, 1999. return

[13] Williams, Patricia. "Name That Curve." The Nation 20 July 1998: 9. return

[14] Erratica. Personal web site. Sept. 8, 1999. return

[15] Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio. "Introduction to Diller and Scofidio's Refresh." . Sept. 12, 1999. return

[16] "Tears in the Rain." Sept. 8, 1999. return

[17] A useful comparison here might be between the tropes, assumptions and practices of fiction and those of biography. In order for the experience of reading a biography to "work," the reader must accept that at least some of the content is ětrueî or based on historical knowledge. return

[18] McQuire, Scott. Visions of Modernity (London: Sage Publications, 1998) 128. return

[19] Sept. 8, 1999. return

[20] Victor Burgin. In/Different Spaces (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996) 36. return

[21] Hayles, Katherine. How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999) 5. return