Watching — Inspired by Jenny Holzer’s Living. #ENGL391

A Feeling You Are Being Watched

When you watch Netflix, you are (on an aggregate level) being watched. This idea is addressed in Lee and Andrejevic’s piece about the Digital Enclosure, but I feel they focused far too much on a type of app which ultimately failed to take off. The digital enclosure which the average person interacts with on a daily basis is not with specific second screen apps. Instead, it is our use of web browsers, social media and other programs which gather our data without us consciously acknowledging it — like Netflix.

My Project

Inspired by Jenny Holzer’s Living, my goal was to put physical reminders of the digital enclosure into the open. I created 60 phrases in capital letters, left them around campus and placed them in public. I then took pictures of them and created an Instagram which can be found here. Have fun exploring the feed, some of the pictures are captioned with further explanation of the ideas behind them. In addition to exploring the digital enclosure, I tackled several different course ideas. For example, I address aspects of Jenkins’ convergence culture idea which I see as problematic. Some of the cards are calls to arms regarding culture and Netflix, which is inspired partially by bell hooks. Many of the cards talk about bingeing and the Netflix interface, which is influenced by the general experience of ENGL391 as a whole. The project is also heavily influenced by Marxist ideas of ideology, and attempts to be a consciousness raising exercise. Slavoj Zizek’s idea of cynical acceptance is extremely influential on the project. I’ve also put the full text at the bottom in no particular order (this storify has a fully curated version).

MAJOR INSPIRATIONS FOR THIS WORK

In order of impact on project.

  • Jenny Holzer — Living
  • Casey McCormick — ENGL391
  • Lee and Andrejevic — “Second-Screen Theory: From the 
    Democratic Surround to the Digital Enclosure”
  • Henry Jenkins — Convergence Culture
  • Slavoj Zizek — ThePervert’s Guide to Ideology
  • Frederic Jameson — Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism
  • Adorno & Horkheimer — “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception”
  • Michel Foucault — The History of Sexuality, Discipline & Punish
  • bell hooks — “The oppositional gaze: Black female spectators,”
  • Sady Doyle — “Age of Ultron Is Proof Marvel Is Killing The Popcorn Movie”

FULL TEXT — “WATCHING”

MARKETERS LOVE NOTHING MORE THAN CONSUMERS WHO BELIEVE THEY ARE SAVVY

EXTENSIVE ENGAGEMENT IS NOT THE SAME AS CRITICAL ENGAGEMENT

PIRACY IS A PRIVELEGE FOT THOSE WHO WOULD CONSUME RATHER THAN CREATE

IF FASCISM RETURNS IT WILL HAVE MORE INFORMATION AND TOOLS THAN EVER BEFORE

IT IS ALWAYS “JOIN THE CONVERSATION” NEVER “START THE CONVERSATION”

EVERY TIME YOU ARE TOLD YOU ARE GAINING MORE CONTROL, THINK ABOUT HOW YOU PAY FOR IT

HOW DARE YOU COMPLAIN WHEN YOU ARE BEING GIVEN EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT?

IT`S ALWAYS ABOUT THE MARKET SHARE

DISABLE AUTOPLAY. MAKE IT A DECISION

NEVER FORGET THAT YOUR BODY IS PART OF THE INTERFACE

THERE ARE 10–15 THEORISTS WHO WILL JUSTIFY ACTING EXACTLY AS YOU ARE NOW

TAKE A MOMENT WHEN YOU BINGE TO NOTICE PATTERNS IN THE NARRATIVE AND WHAT THEY IMPLY

THE WORKER TENDS TO BE THE VICTIM OF DISRUPTION.

TAKE NOTE OF WHAT YOU DO WITHOUT THINKING.

RELAX, THE ALGORITHMS HAVEN’T FIGURED YOU OUT YET.

NOT COMPLETELY.

ON THE BRIGHT SIDE, YOU ARE TOO BORING TO WATCH INDIVIDUALLY

WE AREN’T INTERESTED IN YOUR COMPLEX REASONING. WE WANT TO UNDERSTAND YOUR GUT INSTINCTS.

IF YOU CREATE AN IDENTITY BASED ON CONSUMPTION IT IS A LOT EASIER TO FIGURE YOU OUT

CYNICAL ACCEPTANCE OF THE INSECURITY OF OUR INFORMATION IS DANGEROUS

MOST PEOPLE HAVE LESS WILLPOWER THAN THEY THINK THEY HAVE. NETFLIX UNDOUBTEDLY KEEPS THIS IN MIND WHEN DEVELOPING ALGORITHMS

HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU LOST TRACK OF YOUR OWN SENSE OF TIME DUE TO THAT OF A NARRATIVE?

3 MINUTES WITHOUT AIR.

3 HOURS WITHOUT SHELTER.

3 DAYS WITHOUT WATER.

3 WEEKS WITHOUT FOOD.

YOU’RE FINE TO START ANOTHER EPISODE

THE MOMENT A POPULAR MOVEMENT BECOMES IMPACTFUL IS THE MOMENT IT BECOMES COMMERCIALLY VIABLE

EVEN THOUGH RESPONSES TO CULTURAL SHIFTS ARE GETTING FASTER, THERE IS STILL A SIGNIFICANT PERIOD OF LAG.

ON-DEMAND IS A MISNOMER. THE CONTENT YOU ACCESS IS NOT WHAT YOU DEMAND BUT WHAT YOU ARE PERMITTED

PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT KINDS OF VIOLENCE YOU ACCEPT AS JUSTIFIED IN MOVIES AND TELEVISION

EVERYBODY WANTS TO BE THE PROTAGONIST

THE POWER OF LOVE AND THE POWER OF FRIENDSHIP BOTH MAKE EXCELLENT WEAPONS

AFTER A LONG BINGE-VIEWING IT TAKES A FEW MOMENTS TO ADJUST TO THE LACK OF NARRATIVE CLOSURE IN REALITY

ERRORS ON SCREEN ARE GREAT BECAUSE THEY REMIND US THAT NOBODY HAS ABSOLUTE CONTROL

BOTH HOUSE OF CARDS AND NETFLIX RELY ON THE ASSUMPTION THAT THE PEOPLE IN POWER ULTIMATELY KNOW WHAT IS BEST

COMPLETE FREEDOM WOULD BE UNFATHOMABLY BORING

CAPITALISM IS ROOTED IN IMPROVISATION. WHATEVER YOU SAY THERE WILL ALWAYS BE A “YES AND”

IT’S INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT TO TAKE KNOWLEDGE OF INJUSTICE AND TURN IT INTO SYSTEMIC CHANGE

BE WARY OF YOUR EMOTIONS BUT DO NOT COUNT THEM OUT

ANY GOOD CURATOR HAS A GOAL IN MIND WITH THEIR LAYOUT

CONVENIENCE IS A PATHWAY TO RELIANCE

EVERYONE IS SCARED BY HOW LITTLE CONTROL THEY HAVE. A NICELY LAID OUT INTERFACE CAN RELIEVE THIS TENSION FOR A WHILE

COMMIT TO FINDING EVERY FLAW AND PROBLEM WITH SOMETHING THAT GIVES YOU PLEASURE

THE NETFLIX CATALOGUE HAS GOTTEN LESS EXTENSIVE OVER TIME. THE IMPLICATION OF THIS IS DEPRESSING

READING FANFICTION IS A GOOD WAY TO REMIND YOURSELF THAT YOUR DESIRES ARE NOT UNIQUE

BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF NICHES DECREASES THE NEED TO CREATE ANYTHING NEW

WHEN YOUR HEAD IS LOST IN THE CLOUD, YOU ARE RELYING ON ANOTHER PERSON’S SERVER

#RESISTCATEGORIZATION

NETFLIX DOESN’T INTERRUPT YOU WITH ADS. INSTEAD IT CONSTANTLY ADVERTISES ITSELF

PEOPLE’S VORACIOUS SEARCH FOR COMPLETE KNOWLEDGE IS EASY TO EXPLOIT FOR A PROFIT

A LOT OF EFFORT GOES INTO MAKING WHITE PEOPLE FEEL THAT THEY ARE FIGHTING AGAINST WHITE SUPREMACY

OUTSOURCING DECISIONS IS SUCH AN EXQUISITE TREAT

NEVER FORGET ABOUT THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE IDEOLOGICAL AND THE MATERIAL.

IT IS A BITTERSWEET MOMENT WHEN YOU RECOGNIZE YOU ARE BEING MANIPULATED AND DECIDE TO LET IT HAPPEN

WHETHER YOU PREFER NOVELTY OR CONSISTENCY SAYS A LOT ABOUT WHO YOU ARE AS A PERSON

WATCHING AN ENTIRE TELEVISION PROGRAM IS AN ENORMOUS INVESTMENT OF TIME

IF TELEVISION BECOMES MORE DIVERSE, DOES THAT JUST MEAN ITS CREATORS KNOW MORE ABOUT US?

TRENDING TOPICS SERVE AS AN EXCELLENT WAY TO ALLOW SOMEONE ELSE TO DECIDE WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT

A TRUE REVOLUTION IN MEDIA WOULD REQUIRE THE TECHNOLOGY FOR PRODUCTION AND DISTRIBUTION TO BECOME EASILY ACCESSIBLE

ADVERTISING AND SPECULATION ARE THE NEW PATRONS OF THE ARTS

REMEMBER.

THE REASON YOU ARE BEING WATCHED AND COURTED SO AGGRESSIVELY IS BECAUSE BUSINESSES ARE TERRIFIED OF YOU LEAVING THEM

RESISTANCE AND APPROPRIATION ARE TWO SIDES OF THE SAME COIN

YOU PROBABLY AREN’T THE SUPERHERO. YOU ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE THE COLLATERAL DAMAGE

MARKETERS LOVE NOTHING MORE THAN CONSUMERS WHO BELIEVE THEY ARE SAVVY

EXTENSIVE ENGAGEMENT IS NOT THE SAME AS CRITICAL ENGAGEMENT

PIRACY IS A PRIVELEGE FOT THOSE WHO WOULD CONSUME RATHER THAN CREATE

IF FASCISM RETURNS IT WILL HAVE MORE INFORMATION AND TOOLS THAN EVER BEFORE

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE BEING WATCHED? YOU PROBABLY ARE

IT IS ALWAYS “JOIN THE CONVERSATION” NEVER “START THE CONVERSATION”

EVERY TIME YOU ARE TOLD YOU ARE GAINING MORE CONTROL, THINK ABOUT HOW YOU PAY FOR IT

HOW DARE YOU COMPLAIN WHEN YOU ARE BEING GIVEN EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT?

IT`S ALWAYS ABOUT THE MARKET SHARE

DISABLE AUTOPLAY. MAKE IT A DECISION

NEVER FORGET THAT YOUR BODY IS PART OF THE INTERFACE

THERE ARE 10–15 THEORISTS WHO WILL JUSTIFY ACTING EXACTLY AS YOU ARE NOW

TAKE A MOMENT WHEN YOU BINGE TO NOTICE PATTERNS IN THE NARRATIVE AND WHAT THEY IMPLY

THE WORKER TENDS TO BE THE VICTIM OF DISRUPTION.

TAKE NOTE OF WHAT YOU DO WITHOUT THINKING.

RELAX, THE ALGORITHMS HAVEN’T FIGURED YOU OUT YET. 
NOT COMPLETELY.

ON THE BRIGHT SIDE, YOU ARE TOO BORING TO WATCH INDIVIDUALLY

WE AREN’T INTERESTED IN YOUR COMPLEX REASONING. WE WANT TO UNDERSTAND YOUR GUT INSTINCTS.

IF YOU CREATE AN IDENTITY BASED ON CONSUMPTION IT IS A LOT EASIER TO FIGURE YOU OUT

CYNICAL ACCEPTANCE OF THE INSECURITY OF OUR INFORMATION IS DANGEROUS

MOST PEOPLE HAVE LESS WILLPOWER THAN THEY THINK THEY HAVE. NETFLIX UNDOUBTEDLY KEEPS THIS IN MIND WHEN DEVELOPING ALGORITHMS

HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU LOST TRACK OF YOUR OWN SENSE OF TIME DUE TO THAT OF A NARRATIVE?

3 MINUTES WITHOUT AIR. 
3 HOURS WITHOUT SHELTER. 
3 DAYS WITHOUT WATER.
 3 WEEKS WITHOUT FOOD.
YOU’RE FINE TO START ANOTHER EPISODE

THE MOMENT A POPULAR MOVEMENT BECOMES IMPACTFUL IS THE MOMENT IT BECOMES COMMERCIALLY VIABLE

EVEN THOUGH RESPONSES TO CULTURAL SHIFTS ARE GETTING FASTER, THERE IS STILL A SIGNIFICANT PERIOD OF LAG.

ON-DEMAND IS A MISNOMER. THE CONTENT YOU ACCESS IS NOT WHAT YOU DEMAND BUT WHAT YOU ARE PERMITTED

PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT KINDS OF VIOLENCE YOU ACCEPT AS JUSTIFIED IN MOVIES AND TELEVISION

EVERYBODY WANTS TO BE THE PROTAGONIST

THE POWER OF LOVE AND THE POWER OF FRIENDSHIP BOTH MAKE EXCELLENT WEAPONS

AFTER A LONG BINGE-VIEWING IT TAKES A FEW MOMENTS TO ADJUST TO THE LACK OF NARRATIVE CLOSURE IN REALITY

ERRORS ON SCREEN ARE GREAT BECAUSE THEY REMIND US THAT NOBODY HAS ABSOLUTE CONTROL

BOTH HOUSE OF CARDS AND NETFLIX RELY ON THE ASSUMPTION THAT THE PEOPLE IN POWER ULTIMATELY KNOW WHAT IS BEST

COMPLETE FREEDOM WOULD BE UNFATHOMABLY BORING

CAPITALISM IS ROOTED IN IMPROVISATION. WHATEVER YOU SAY THERE WILL ALWAYS BE A “YES AND”

IT’S INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT TO TAKE KNOWLEDGE OF INJUSTICE AND TURN IT INTO SYSTEMIC CHANGE

BE WARY OF YOUR EMOTIONS BUT DO NOT COUNT THEM OUT

ANY GOOD CURATOR HAS A GOAL IN MIND WITH THEIR LAYOUT

CONVENIENCE IS A PATHWAY TO RELIANCE

EVERYONE IS SCARED BY HOW LITTLE CONTROL THEY HAVE. A NICELY LAID OUT INTERFACE CAN RELIEVE THIS TENSION FOR A WHILE

COMMIT TO FINDING EVERY FLAW AND PROBLEM WITH SOMETHING THAT GIVES YOU PLEASURE

THE NETFLIX CATALOGUE HAS GOTTEN LESS EXTENSIVE OVER TIME. THE IMPLICATION OF THIS IS DEPRESSING

READING FANFICTION IS A GOOD WAY TO REMIND YOURSELF THAT YOUR DESIRES ARE NOT UNIQUE

BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF NICHES DECREASES THE NEED TO CREATE ANYTHING NEW

WHEN YOUR HEAD IS LOST IN THE CLOUD, YOU ARE RELYING ON ANOTHER PERSON’S SERVER

#RESISTCATEGORIZATION

NETFLIX DOESN’T INTERRUPT YOU WITH ADS. INSTEAD IT CONSTANTLY ADVERTISES ITSELF

PEOPLE’S VORACIOUS SEARCH FOR COMPLETE KNOWLEDGE IS EASY TO EXPLOIT FOR A PROFIT

A LOT OF EFFORT GOES INTO MAKING WHITE PEOPLE FEEL THAT THEY ARE FIGHTING AGAINST WHITE SUPREMACY

OUTSOURCING DECISIONS IS SUCH AN EXQUISITE TREAT

NEVER FORGET ABOUT THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE IDEOLOGICAL AND THE MATERIAL.

IT IS A BITTERSWEET MOMENT WHEN YOU RECOGNIZE YOU ARE BEING MANIPULATED AND DECIDE TO LET IT HAPPEN

WHETHER YOU PREFER NOVELTY OR CONSISTENCY SAYS A LOT ABOUT WHO YOU ARE AS A PERSON

WATCHING AN ENTIRE TELEVISION PROGRAM IS AN ENORMOUS INVESTMENT OF TIME

IF TELEVISION BECOMES MORE DIVERSE, DOES THAT JUST MEAN ITS CREATORS KNOW MORE ABOUT US?

TRENDING TOPICS SERVE AS AN EXCELLENT WAY TO ALLOW SOMEONE ELSE TO DECIDE WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT

A TRUE REVOLUTION IN MEDIA WOULD REQUIRE THE TECHNOLOGY FOR PRODUCTION AND DISTRIBUTION TO BECOME EASILY ACCESSIBLE

RESISTANCE AND APPROPRIATION ARE TWO SIDES OF THE SAME COIN

YOU PROBABLY AREN’T THE SUPERHERO. YOU ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE THE COLLATERAL DAMAGE