Critical Writing Index

"Screen Tests":: Media Narcissism, Theatricality, and the Internalized Observer

by Ursula Frohne

CTRL[SPACE], Rhetorics of Surveillance from Bentham to Big Brother, 2002, pp. 253-277

Karlsruhe: ZKM, 2002

This article from a book/exhibition catalog focuses on the relationship of subjects when faced with the gaze of the camera. Beginning with Andy Warhol's film 500 Screen Tests which forces subjects (mostly non-actors) to interact with the camera for 3 unbroken minutes, the author wonders if the transformation of ordinary individuals into subjects of the camera's gaze (specifically through reality television) and reciprocally the reception of images of simulated life contributes to an elimination of the real so that it becomes, in Zizek's terms, "the dematerialization itself into a..spectral show." In addition, the author contemplates the prevalence of images in art which transform individuals so that they conform to cinematic stereotypes (ie Cindy Sherman's Untitled Film Stills). This idea is complicated during an analysis of the show Big Brother which was an exceedingly dull show precisely because the participants were only interested in confirming a positive image of themselves.

ITEM 2002.101 – available for viewing in the Research Centre

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