Languages of Digital Media

Languages of Digital Media
Digital Studies Conceptualized by V. Kuhn

Camera Project

IML201 Camera Assignment: Surveillance and the Public Sphere
Fall, 2011
3-5 minute video argument with filmed and found footage. Done in groups. Plan due: 10/24: Final due 10/31
Background: John Berger argues that women are always aware of being surveyed, such that they split their identity, since:
From earliest childhood she has been taught and persuaded to survey herself continually. And so she comes to consider the surveyor and the surveyed within her as the two constituent yet always distinct elements of her identity as a woman. (46)
Of course, given his larger argument about the role of advertising in society, he clearly suggests that these images continually remind her of this identity. Recall his discussion of 'glamour' and how it is used to create a desire, in both men and women, to attain a better life. He speaks of images that are received by humans and how they impact us. Since Ways of Seeing was created, there has been a huge increase in image technologies to survey us, adding weight, we suggest, to his notion of the awareness of being surveyed. This surveillance is far more generalized and impacts both men and women, and, again we would add, anyone whose appearance is somehow outside of the norm. According to Michel Foucault, we live in a surveillance society in which:
There is no need for arms, physical violence, material constraints. Just a gaze. An inspecting gaze, a gaze which each individual under its weight will end by interiorizing to the point that he is his own overseer, each individual thus exercising this surveillance over, and against, himself. A superb formula: power exercised continuously and for what turns out to be a minimal cost.
In recent years, while the scope and diversity of surveillance technologies has soared, the array of rights designed to protect basic limits of privacy has been steadily eroded. Even here at USC, we can witness the proliferation of information and surveillance technologies in our everyday lives (everything from video cameras mounted on campus police cruisers to the use of Blackboard’s “Turn-It-In” anti-plagiarism software). On its own, each of these systems may appear benign, innocuous and intended for the common good. In combination, however, we must ask whether we are comfortable with our own “interiorization” of these technologies and the power relations they inscribe. The focus of this assignment is to analyze from multiple perspectives the numerous systems of surveillance and/or information that surround us. In order to thoroughly address this phenomenon, and to bring it as close as possible to home, this project will investigate the phenomenon of surveillance-information culture as it functions at USC and/or the larger LA area.
To begin:
- get in groups of 2-4 people as assigned
- brainstorm a topic
- research and select an approach
- submit a camera plan, including shot list, to the wiki. [project plan due: 10/24 posted to wiki.]
- film and edit your footage based, in part, on feedback to your propject plan
Questions to keep in mind for this project (and answer as many as is appropriate on your wiki page in your camera project plan:
1. Who are you? (you can be yourselves, or it may be more interesting to assume a different identity as an organization or group with a distinct agenda) 
2. Who are you trying to reach?
3. What is the goal of your video? (are you trying to provoke individuals to act? Do you want to inform people or build awareness? Do you want to bring down the global surveillance infrastructure?)
Final digital arguments should be well-researched, articulate, creative and convincingly argued. Instructions for exporting and compressing for wiki placement are linked on the wiki. 

Some Background to consider:
an interesting article on cameras in the public sphere: 
also a study finds that a male objectifying gaze reduces women's math scores:
also, don't forget good old descriptive type films. Here are several 3 minute documentaries and they function as very compressed sources of information:
and, finally, visual privacy (opens with anecdote about students busted for smoking pot en masse thinking the crowd aspect with lend anonymity):
Peer Review: Two stages
I. Camera plan: see list of mapping software; use SnapNDrag (free application) to capture a screen shot and add to your wiki page. Peer reviewers comment on the strength of the controlling idea and the clarity of the shot list. Please make constructive suggestions as you are able.
II. Final project (see criteria below)
Please comment on the following categories by next class using the comment function of the wiki. Please note strengths, as well as suggest possibilities for further strengthening, as you are able:
1. Choice of footage used and appropriate edit lengths.
2. Researched forms of evidence presented, and proper works cited.
3. Quality of the controlling idea.
4. Text used as both a graphic and ideational asset.
5. Technical efficacy.