Wednesday, September 28, 2011


When thinking about surveillance and watching, I kept also considering how identity fits into those concepts. I decided to use the idea of the Superhero as a metaphor for identity. My models are not literally representing the superheroes on their shirts, but the metaphor still stands. I considered how humans behave in today's technological age with all of the cameras and surveillance technology found everywhere. When we do not feel as though we are being watched, we may present ourselves in a less flashy manner. I used the idea of surveillance in the first half of each narrative and took photos of the models doing activities they would do in every day life, while not interacting with the camera. I then used the notion that the Superhero facade could represent the individual's public identity. The models interact fully with the camera and acknowledge that they are being watched. I asked them to perform, presenting themselves strongly to represent a public identity. I also kept in mind that those being observed change because they are being observed, in a psychological sense. In an article by Richard B. Woodward, he mentions "We like to watch and, in turn, don't mind being watched." I view this quote as entirely applicable to the superhero half of my series, while their non-observed identities would mind being watched. Conversely, Philip E. Agre discusses in his article "Surveillance and Capture,""the assumption that this "watching" is nondisruptive and surreptitious (except perhaps when going astray or issuing a threat)" Watching in the sense of surveillance is not necessarily nondisruptive, as many people begin to present their identities in a different manner because of it.   


  1. I very much agree that people become someone else when they realize there is a camera, they can become quirky, pensive, or downright non-existent if they don't like having their picture taking. The watching is disruptive in an activity sense, where the subject turns into someone else when there is a camera. This begs the question, do people become someone else when they are in the presence of other people and capable of being watched (not necessarily by a camera)?

  2. Your presentation of the juxtaposition of people when they are alone and when they are seen by others is very thought-provoking. It relates to what Agre says about "tracking" or capturing different "states." This is a genius way of applying his theories to the psychology of humans. There is also a lot of truth to this - we are different people under the watchful eye of others. You operationalized this well by showing people as "private figures" and public figures (superheroes).

  3. Your series will benefit from photographing more people. Eliminate the redundancy of similar shots then determine the number of shots you will show of each person in each situation so that the series has a structure and a rhythm. Be sure to pay attend to the quality of light. It is often dramatic this time of the year in Wisconsin and that may lend a dramatic comic book quality to your images.