Let’s be honest, there’s never been a time when human beings were not trying to steal a glimpse of something more than what accepted propriety would allow. In fact, we think we’ve actually seen peepholes amongst the ruins of Pompeii – or was it Persepolis?
Technology, of course, has accelerated the possibilities for voyeurism in a way almost unimaginable even just 50 years ago. And New York’s Museum of Sex has a revealing new exhibition, Cam Life: An Introduction to Webcam Culture, that seeks to explicate what it all means for modern society – especially those who tend to towards a bit – or a lot – of exhibitionism.
The titillating but edifying show brings together several contemporary artists known for integrating camming and pornography into their work, as well as content and interviews related to the escalation of digital voyeurism since the widespread embrace of the internet, and amusing interactive multimedia installations.
Provocatively, there are multiple webcam streams on display – CAM4, an international adult streaming platform, is a partner in Cam Life – and yet none of the subjects is at all aware of being a part of the exhibition. (Giving it a slightly Orwellian air.)
The show headily brings up questions of public display versus privacy, connection versus technological disaffection, and intimacy versus alienation. In mirroring the curatorial philosophy of CAM4, it also challenges any idealized ideas of pornographic imagery, by fully embracing racial, gender and fetishistic diversity, offering a truer picture of the current and all encompassing sexual zeitgeist.
Cam Life: An Introduction to Webcam Culture is curated by Lissa Rivera, in conjunction with the Museum of Sex’s Creative Director Serge Becker, and runs through May 31, 2020. That is, if you can manage to tear yourself away from your computer screen for long enough to see it.