The one-way mirror: narcissism and the closed-circuit surveillance network
In her well-known essay, ‘Video: The Aesthetics of Narcissism’ (1976), Rosalind Krauss notes the strange meeting of formal and psychological attributes in video art – instant feedback and the centrality of the human body – that lend the device the quality of a mirror. Olivier Asselin develops two observations: that instant feedback applies only to live broadcasting and that it is not really specific to video. It was already central to the telephone, radio and television, and would soon become central to the Web; during the same era instant feedback found another use, neither domestic nor artistic, as with the Portapak, but corporate, with closed circuit television (CCTV). Taking two cases as a departure point – one taken from 1970s video art and the other from the use of the webcam in contemporary social networks – we look at ways in which narcissism and surveillance come together.
Filmed on Friday, May 4, 2018 at the Université de Montréal.