This video chronicles my personal relationship with a web cam; the live, 24-hour web cam of the Empire State Building in New York.* In November 2000, I began taking pictures of the image I saw on my computer screen. I did not use a camera, but instead took thousands of images using the screen shot function built into the operating system of personal computer. The still shots are compiled into a video diary of the distant building in an internet browser window, as it sits on my computer desktop. The ability to experience, capture, “own” and care about the remote building kept me engaged. As I sat in a windowless computer lab for hours on end, I came to understand that the ability to see the weather and natural light patterns reflected in this icon of human engineering was what was so compelling to me. Perhaps even more compelling is the ability to see it through someone else’s camera – a person I have never met in a space I have no physical knowledge of. At times, the existence of life in the same room as the camera is revealed through the close observation of the web cam, shadows, handwriting on a window and jogs to the camera.
*Empire 24/7 at http//live.thing.net was a webcam project by Wolfgang Staehle. It is no longer online.