Naked love

Above: Naked couple/Love. Credit: SilviaP.

Young woman in a kitchen

Above: Young woman in a kitchen. Credit: Fernando Gimenez

Naked woman on a mirror

Above: Naked woman on a mirror. Credit: SilviaP.

Young woman posing

Above: Woman posing. Credit: SilviaP.


The prevalence of optico-electronic vision devices creates a context in which "it is no longer the possibility of seeing, but the impossibility of not seeing," which dominates the visual realm (video artist Gary Hill quoted by Virilio, OS: 90). The internaut, an Internet user (or participant in social media, etc.), is a voyeur-voyager motivated by an activated perversity. At first the internaut-voyeur is opposed to, and contrasted by, the online exhibitionist--whose life has been stripped of all privacy (IB: 16). But increasingly the ubiquity of the smartphone, webcams, etc., has created a scene dominated not by these two (opposed) perverse psychological types but rather by one terminal human type riven with both voyeuristic and exhibitionistic urges--eventually to become the dominant personality type in a milieu of "universal voyeurism," in which "voyeurism and exhibitionism have become the same thing (CP: 119)."

There is a basic violence implicit in the photo-creating activities of the hyper-intrusive image-capture-device-user; billions of mobile-phone-based digital photographers capture and share every possible facet and detail of their daily lives without respite to the extent that we are "being confronted by a sort of pathology of immediate perception that owes everything, or very nearly everything, to the recent proliferation of photo-cinematographic and video-infographic seeing machines (OS: 90)."

There are so many now who present any-and-all aspects themselves for inspection "in the strange little window (IB: 18)," of the device screen that "after the display-window prostitutes of Amsterdam, the fifties striptease and the sixties peep-shows, the time has come for video pornography (PI: 23)."

The device screen is the "vision machine," the glassy-pristine surface on which humans appear as ghostly, spectral, and, obviously, flat, two-dimensional tele-presences. In terms of photo-history as regards technological evolution this transformation of the photo-video medium ushers in a transfer of the narrative from mechanical science--physicists, optical lens polishers, etc.--to digital hardware and software developers, "[until now] it is science, techno-science, which has taken responsibility for the fate of images. In the past, it did so with the telescope and the microscope. In the future it will do so with ... domestic tele-surveillance (IB: 13)."

Sexually explicit photos and live video-streams have become so commonplace that there is no limit left to be breached in terms of loss of intimacy and the transformation of the highly personal into the generic. We are living through the post-intimacy era in which bodily intimacy has been replaced by a scene of continuous virtual hyper-exposure. Intimacy as it was once understood--as an intensely personalized communion--has been relinquished and this is indicative of an age in which sex is ever more definite and unambiguous, something like a product in fact; what is most grossly in evidence is the disappearance of seduction, allure, and beguilement (VW: 62).

The sharing of intimate details of one's life online has become de rigueur to the degree that "propriety [these days] seems to be mistaken for concealment, as though some shameful disease (GA: 50-51)." The view which dominates today is a "universal voyeurism which directs everyone's gaze towards privileged points of view (IB: 65)." The prying lens invades and exposes the formerly personal domestic space--a perverse hostile look under which "the fear of exposing one's private life gives way to the desire to over-expose it to everyone (IB: 59)."