Streaming is currently not available before the premiere 2020.
What is it?
The film WATCHERS is summative footage of a 16 hour-long, 960 minutes, 57,600 seconds limbo scenery. The edited version of the full-length surveillance video came from the material I collected during Open Academy 2019, in Kunstakademiet i Trondheim.
In this event, the artist studio was opened for visiting for four days. I installed a surveillance camera in my studio area. * For studying, analyzing people's authentic reaction of me exposing myself with intimate photos and belongings. The ambient sound is made by breathing and chewing a banana.
WATCHERS initially was trying to discuss scopophilia - Internet privacy leakage and ubiquitous cameras. Our privacy becomes someone's pleasure, a solution to their fetishes. I switch the position of myself from being watched to a watcher; I experience the feeling of knowing what a God's view is, listen to every word of judgments, watch people fool with my personal belongings without respect. For my mental statement, this can be a digital inferno without a doubt. But what can those words and behaviors bring to the table?
Here are some selected examples: Around 03:00, a woman addressed that she does not have the same type of underwear because she thought they were disgusting. In the following dialogue, she also said some women wear thongs every day because that makes them feel feminine. But before we jump into the conclusion that this statement is not that objective and somehow heightens the stereotype of a particular woman's lingerie, she also argued with the man that women have the right to wear whatever they want (even she will not wear them). This typical ambivalent discussion shows that some women are living in conflict: they know what rights are, what liberty is, they still judge their same kind, even in a male gazing way.
At 09:41, I got a comment as "Chinese fetish."; at 15:00, another man said: "It's just an Asian in Norway." However, the exhibits were not racial; there was nothing addressed about my home country or any relevant information. The fetish part was supposed to be universal. People use the same tools anywhere on this planet. Because of my identity as an immigrant, as a foreigner, my fetish has an adjective before everything, which is Chinese or Asian. I am identified.
From 20:30, there was a group of people in the room; they treated this exhibition like an adult playground. The exhibits were indeed allowed to be touched, but it supposes to have some respect to a certain extent. When people visit any interactive exhibition, it does not mean people can throw things around. That is a myth of power dynamic; artists lose power when giving away rights to the audience; they can be delicate and rough. Like several people took pictures during the exhibition, it was allowed, but are the closing up pics a violent of copyrights? What is the boundary of taking exhibition photos, what is the point of taking selfie in the exhibition(08:13)?
Here I am, observing people observing me, is there any difference between me behind a hidden camera, and people who enjoyed my privacy? This whole digital self-harming experiment brought me more than the joy of prying into secrets, also pain, also confusion.
*Legal Concern Statement:
a. People in the footage are censored, with sound distortion.
b. The camera was not there for any unlawful misuse, only for art practice.
c. The Data Protection Act is exempt from CCTV on personal property; a studio cannot be considered as a public space.
d. There was no webcam.
e. There was a photo with a statement that addressed the existence of the camera in the middle of the table during the exhibition.
f. The audience fully aware that "Study Me" was a contemporary art exhibition in an art academy; the acknowledgment of awareness should be applied as the acquiescence of a grey area artistic liberty to a certain extent.
g. I will not share any uncensored footage with anyone after the film is released.