Science, Statistics, Politics, Current Events, Photos and Life.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Voyeurism and the Camera's Eye

This is a photo essay on privacy and the camera.  The camera takes pictures, sometimes of subjects caught surreptitiously or accidentally.  Are we invading someone's privacy when we take the picture?  When we view the picture?   When it is posted on the web?

This picture of a tree and a man.  The man is aware of the camera.  We are not invading his privacy.  The tree is unaware of us, and perhaps we have violated its privacy.  But many of us do not consider plants to have privacy, and worrying about the privacy of a tree would be considered ridiculous. 

Now these two gentlemen fearlessly sitting alone in front of the church, unworried that the facade might fall on them at any moment.  Have we violated their privacy?  They are a little too indistinct for us to worry about their feelings.  The building dominates the photo and in the end the picture is not about the men, but about the building.

Here we have a passageway.  One person is climbing out of the passageway basement, another approaches to enter.  The presence of a passage connotes strength and privacy, but there are two people here, and they are obviously not together.  Thus they protect each other, and we do not worry too much about their privacy.  The man in green is well lit, if we worry, it is about the person whose back is towards us.  That is the person protected by the passageway whose privacy we might be violating. 

Another passageway, underneath the previous passage.  We observe someone unobtrusively.  The passageway is protective of the person, but his head is turned, could he perhaps be aware of the camera?  If he is, then we have not observed him unnoticed. 

City Hall, employees entrance.  Someone has exited the building either for better cell phone reception or to not bother those inside with the noise of his conversation.  We waited for him to leave to take the picture but he outlasted us.  In his concentration, he does not notice the cameraman. 

This man is in public, but somehow he feels safe, and the camera intrudes on his space.  This person perhaps has self possession, and we feel as if we are intruding on his space.  Perhaps if he turned his head slightly, he could see into our rooms and our lives.  The tables would be turned, and the photograph voyeurs on the observer. 

Two statisticians engaged in conversation isolated at a table on a patio.  Other people may be located behind the camera, but the camera shows no evidence of others.  This couple might assume they are alone, and they are engaged in comfortable discourse, unaware of you watching them. 

A final picture, to lighten a heavy subject.  These colleagues of the tin wood man rest in a corner, shunted away from the crowds, the front patio heater with his head tilted, perhaps the better to hear what another patio heater says.  Does the tin wood man care if we watch him? 

No comments: