Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ghosts on camera


2007 is tucking itself into bed. Let us check upon the psychic health of the nation. How are we?

Now being tested in Bristol City Centre: Closed-circuit television cameras equipped with microphones and loudspeakers enabling surveillance officers (Randstad Employment Bureau temporary agency staff £6/hour-no benefits) to bark orders at their fellow citizens.

Meanwhile in New York, a new technology manufactured by Holosonic transmits an "audio spotlight" from a rooftop speaker so that the sound is contained within your cranium.

Used to promote a television series about the paranormal, the issue widens from one of privacy to one of general public sanity. Religious groups, anti-capitalists, civil libertarians, secular-humanist anti-theists and the merely understandably slightly bewildered should quite rightly be absolutely furious about… well, we’re not sure how to put it.

In his book The Minority Report Phillip K. Dick describes a world where people are punished for crimes they have yet to commit, on the basis of a single incriminating brain scan. The technology is here.

Talented marketers (governments included) know what you want before you even know you want it. Face, voice, lip and body language-reading software can have you analysed, predicted and soothingly horse-whispered -if not blatantly coerced- into submission within seconds of arriving at the store.
“What did you do when you got back from work last night?”
“I watched a television program.. I think it was about ghosts...”
“What are ghosts?”
“....um… non-corporeal entities that bring us confusing messages from another dimension…”
“No. Those are called adverts.”

We can read each others intentions and predict each others behavior with some level of accuracy. We may soon be able to solve future crimes, eavesdrop on private conversations whispered in public, interpret suspicious body language and radically tailor advertising to each individual’s needs, dreams and desires, and broadcast a telepathically bespoke portfolio of glittering lifestyle products directly into each other’s minds. Total information awareness. Late night one-click buy-it-now Freudian slip. Your darkest desires delivered straight to your door and in the fog of the morning you come quietly and help the police with their enquiries.

If we are all given the technology is it fair game? As the National Rifle Association likes to argue after each hormonal killing spree, if everyone carried a piece they could have taken him down much quicker…

CCTV surveillance is very popular with the public. Violent crime, knifings and shootings are perceived to be on the rise in London and other UK cities; and this may well be the case. We assume that surveillance serves as a deterrent. Does it? In the black hole crack-hungry soul of the time-blind drug addicted bag-snatcher, a deterrent is as meaningful as a tomorrow. And the people who casually threw a TV through our front window last month didn’t give a moment’s thought to being spotted, because they were just really pissed. In a liberal democracy, privacy and liberty should be the norm, and any infringements upon them must be qualified on a case by case basis. But the new climate of security is making bold demands. He is confident. His voice is loud. He sounds like he knows what he is talking about. He must know something we don’t. But he may be the thinly veiled edge of a malignant wedge. There’s a line to be drawn, and toed, somewhere, but it is hard to stay focused.

For the mystics and Pantheists among us, this momentous blurring of the private and the public may just be more evidence for the fact that we are all the same person. But nonetheless, unfortunately, we are having a massive argument with ourself.

Happy New Year, and may your Gods, or not, be with you.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

So, you want to make us curious about your private conversations whispered in public?

Seems as if you're not sticking to your own rules...you're using technology to publish your thoughts and your effusions of individual creativity world-wide(the comics, besides, caused nightmares to me). You want other people, world-wide, to read it, to listen to it, to laugh about it, to watch it and to comment it.

We do not come to your house, whereever it is, to spy trough your keyhole. YOU invite us. YOU open the gate. YOU make us curious. YOU say: Have a look, that's ME. That's what I'm feeling, that's what gives cause for concern and fear to ME.

You could have scribbled it down in a diary instead. But it was YOU who chose the modern media to express yourself towards the world. YOU make yourself vulnerable for anybody, because you want to.

It slightly remembers me of Kinski's son, touring with his father's most impressing works, coming to talk-shows trying to promote his new audiobook, saying: "Don't ask me anything about my father or about my private life.I'm here to speak about my tour". How could he be taken seriously after that? He was asked if he really had realized who his father was and then they axed him.

Maybe you also missed the importance of not being earnest. Sometimes we tend to be full of ourselves. I don't believe that the microphone mafia could be interested in anything I say while strolling through the streets. Who should analyse all the rubbish that is being produced by millions of vocal chords?

If I had telepathical abilities my dear, I'd free us from any kind of ghosts and apocalyptical horror scenarios. I'd implant optimism into anybodies brains.

I don't care about modern marketers. As long as the salesman's profession exists, clever people have always sold things that the world does not need.Without using technology.

Makes me think of my colleague who is specialized in selling baking paper: Today he explained to a wholeseller, why bakeries should use a special kind of release baking paper for very delicate cakes and pastries: Because customers do not want to buy cakes with a crater-surface. They prefer the even, smooth uniform look. If my neighbours cake looks better than mine, I'd prefer to have his one....

It's just a question of persuasion and response. But maybe today we know a lot more about subconscient ways of perception. I think that is even worse than using technology, because you're not aware of what's creeping into your brain. But you could refuse to look at the harsh truth of the camera's eye...

Science fiction is friction, but still fiction. Ghosts are the incorporations of what our ancestors could not explain rationally or apriori. Maybe you'd be better off watching less horror and destroyal movies? Pay attention, big mummy is watching you! :D

Brave New Year and hold on to your ghosts!

Nick Talbot said...

I love you, you pay my rent.

Jeff said...

Maybe if we had a series of surveillance feedback loop stations every three blocks we could orient ourselves towards the next location. According to what we heard coming out of them.

Anton Maiof said...

I was talking with GOD the other day and told him, "you know some people don't believe you even exist and here we are in meaningful conversation!"

GOD replied "like I give a fuck! I'm fucking GOD!"

We laughed and then re-named our beards.

Anonymous said...

And you don't know the consequences
Of the things you say
I'll be your operator baby
I'm in control

Annina said...

Hey I just made a total elf out of myself...See the elf on the shore, it's my ideal, nothing more.
Check it out by clicking the link below!

http://www.elfyourself.com/?id=1714750047

Jeff said...

I know that in stressful times like these, the urge to write zen poetry is very great, but come on!! Surveillance feedback loop stations!!! Yeah!!!!!!

Alex said...

Nick, the comments section of your blog haunts me at night.

Nick Talbot said...

I know... a CAPS LOCK key chases me down dark alleyways... into the arms of tall, dark, hairy, spindly-legged spider-men with CCTVs for heads...

adam brown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
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Owen said...

Although eye-catching advances in technology and surveillance techniques do appear to have conjured an omniscient means for corporate and political control, I'm sleeping soundly. I can rest assured in the absolute certainty that if there is a Skynet aping or Philip K. Dick echoing device, the British government will:

a) be unable to procure it before it is out of date

b) fail to budget for staffing, operational support and maintenance

c) accidentally leave the blueprints to the 'secret project' in a brief case outside a pub in Bracknell

d) email details of the covert technology to 25 million people by mistake

and finally

d) being comprised largely of lawyers, introduce unwieldy and inchoate legislation governing its use so that no-one can work out whether pressing the 'deathbeam' switch contravenes an obscure sub clause in an EU health and safety directive...

...Happy New Year Nick and cheers for the great music

Anonymous said...

FEED HIS FACE....

"As the temperature dips even further, the elven body clock finally switches off, so more of the height challenged minions don't appear. And buried deep in the snow, eggs start to hatch. The season of the Long Legged High-Heeled Christmas Crocodile begins.

Fuelled by a seemingly never ending food source, these fearsome predators stalk the snow and ice of Lapland, plucking elves from the ice at will. However, as the elves are too low down to realise what is going on, and the crocodiles have legs cunningly camouflaged in candy-stripey tights and high heels, to look just like Mrs. Claus-Smith, they carry on oblivious. High above them, the crocodiles feed, mate and lay their eggs, and the snow runs red with the blood of Santa's little helpers.

Finally, overcome by over-eating, the crocodiles collapse, their spindly legs overwhelmed by the vast girth of their elf-fed belly, and die of shock. Surprised, but too stupid to be scared, by the sudden appearance of fat, dead spindly legged crocodiles, the last few surviving elves use them to make handbags, loafers and belts."

Crocudile Done D. said...

Whatever words I say, you make me, make me, make me HUNGRY AGAIN!

Anonymous said...

surely the fact that a spambot has left a post about improving you abs on you comments page disproves the notion of targeted adverts.

..unless you've been working out?