Saturday, September 26, 2009

We Live in Public

"Everyone wants fifteen minutes of fame every day. So we built a bunker and showed them the future.” – Joshua Harris

In the early 90s, Joshua Harris was regarded as something of an internet sage, predicting – with striking accuracy – how the web would evolve over the coming decades.

He predicted broadband internet access wouldn’t be available until the year 2000, yet created the first internet television network in 1994. Although he now admits many of his predictions, while correct, were completely made up.

In 1999, a year after the Truman Show was released, Harris began his own web reality project, which is now the subject of feature-length documentary, We Live in Public. You can catch it now through October 1 at LA's Landmark Nuart Theatre.

Taking the MTV Real World format to the ultimate extreme, Harris created an underground bunker where 100 people lived for 30 days, having their every action recorded and broadcast across the web. But unlike the Real World, the subjects had their own monitors too and could interact in real-time with the online viewers.

In a recent interview on NPR’s On the Media, the film’s director, Ondi Timoner, describes the bunker like this:

It was six floors of total chaos. There was an 80-foot-long dining room table where nightly performances occurred. There was free flowing liquor, three meals a day, a communal shower in the shape of a geodesic dome right there in the middle of a pod hotel that was full of capsules that slept over a hundred people.

Everyone had their own surveillance camera and television monitor, and they were required to wear uniforms when they checked in and answer about 500 questions

After 10 years of making sense of 5,000 hours of tape, the film is now on the film festival circuit and looking for a distributor.

But as crazy as it seems, we’re increasingly living our lives in public in much the same way. Just look at Facebook. We all have that friend we haven’t spoken to in years, but still we’ve seen her wedding photos, know the baby is adorable and even what she had for breakfast.

Whether this film is a cautionary tale, or a look into the mind of a modern-day Warhol type, one thing is certain: The idea and expectation of privacy is constantly evolving, and we’re always living in public.

No comments:

Post a Comment