Archive for December, 2011

Privacy and Voyeurism: @SleepNoMoreNYC – (A Sort of Review of the Play)

December 18, 2011
Venetian Mask

Gazing through my mask

Last night I went with @totheralistair and @ghennipher to see Sleep No More.  Interestingly, in an odd synchronization with my piece on privacy just published yesterday, Sleep No More plays with voyeurism, privacy, audience/observer, exploration and curiosity.  When you arrive you are given a Venetian mask and told “You will find yourself experiencing the hotel alone,” “Curiosity is rewarded,” “Please do not speak,” and “Please do not take off your mask; this is for us.” You soon find yourself playing the ghost, the ultimate “Other” of Jean-Paul Sartre, rifling through files and drawers, the extended beak on the mask emphasizing your nosy-ness, a wordless observer of wordless dance and action, chasing other ghosts, ghosts of the thirties, through the three warehouses dressed as part-hotel, part insane asylum, part small town. Part village.

SPOILER ALERT

It may be better for someone to go into the Sleep No More experience without pre-conceived notions.  If you think you might have the opportunity to go to Sleep No More, maybe don’t read this post.

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The New Village: There is No Privacy in the Networked World

December 17, 2011

Pennsylvania "Dutch" Hex "Rosette"

Villages naturally have very little privacy. To guard against the results (“bad luck”) that the eyes of the Other (neighbors) might bring, inhabitants might use all kinds of methods–including some that are supernatural.  For instance, in pre-1997 Bhutanese villages (e.g. before TV was allowed and other cultures flooded in) inhabitants painted symbols on their homes to ward off ill-fortune.  If you visit rural areas today, you’ll notice among these house paintings are phalluses, painted by doors, hung from strings from the roof as if they were windchimes or placed like gargoyles on the eaves.   This was done rather like the hex signs of the Pennsylvania “Dutch,” but not for what many guess would be the obvious reason, fertility.  No, the Bhutanese were not insuring the abundance of their fields and families with these phalluses.  They painted these symbols to ward off gossip and what we might call the evil eye.  Gossip and the evil eye, which results from gossip because if you are trying to accomplish something, and people conceptualize and talk about it too much, that thing you are trying to do might not turn out so well. (more…)