Surveillance through a glass, benignly


I have been working on a website for an undergraduate class on Surveillance, which sent me looking for ominous graphics that showed invading eyes, Big Brother, traffic cams — the lore of popular film and television. Of course they are out there in meme-millions. But then I chanced on my own image of this baker, taken in Paris or Avignon, and I thought for a minute about our daily meetings through glass. They mostly happen in cities and seem even more benign than our eye-to-eye meetings. The shop window is a filter in our mutual regard, reducing our estimates of each other to a commercial context. What could that man with the camera possibly want? What, indeed, do I want? For it’s clear that I can’t consume a croissant with a camera, except in the eternal and artsy sense, but it is just dawning on this chap that I may think his goods are worthy of that status. That’s a positive moment for both of us, a little blush of satisfaction — “I really like what you have made!” — that wouldn’t be preserved without the camera.

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