The Camera Ubique, A New Way of Seeing.
With ever-increasing ease of image production and low-res sharing we observe ourselves and each other with a new and constant rhythm. With camera phones, street views, digital surveillance, or satellite imagery we attempt to photograph everything, all the time, with ever present image-making machines and lens-based technologies.
We once saw the world from the visually wholesome, one-point to three-point perspective of the Camera Obscura, and we now see ourselves from the multi-modal, kaleidoscopic and shared frame of what I call the “Camera Ubique,” the everywhere camera. It’s named in the tradition of the Camera Obscura, the darkened room, a chamber whereby a small opening allows the refraction of light in order to produce an image upon the opposite wall. The Camera Obscura was a completely accurate analogue, a one-to-one whole perspective of the real world in real time. The Camera Ubique, meaning ubiquitous room, implies a new image-space, with us now everywhere, capturing everything, all the time, from a multitude of perspectives.
This new camera space has come to life rapidly in the last fifteen or twenty years. Take, for instance, the proliferation of the camera phone. The J-phone, was placed on the market only in 2000 in Japan. By the end of 2012, there were reportedly over 5 billion camera phones in use worldwide. This has produced a contemporary psyche reliant on visual, mostly digital indexing of our moments.
Ubiquitous lensed technologies produce a layered multi-modal framework of constant image production and reception. This is a collective experience within a screen-based frame -- we constantly send or share images with each other, while staring at screens. In this shared framework, our imaginations form around digitally-captured images, a shared network of visual experience – memories form in both digitally screen-based and cinematic modes.
This multi-modal experience may be the cause of perceptual disintegration and the failure of our ability to focus or attend as we once did in the pre-modern sense, within a ‘Camera Obsura’ reality. But the ever-increasing level of complexity in our experience also demands that we learn to focus within this hyper-speed, fragmented frame, and that we accept a layered reality of existence that incorporates a social/technological layer of thought and image.
However kaleidoscopic it is, we may find the Camera Ubique experience to be a kind of visual aid with which we creatively harness the multi-modal. It already gives us togetherness in the midst of the frenetic pace of the 21st Century. Could we see this as an imagining-space for enlightenment, a way to observe and then create a better picture of ourselves?