For more than 13 years I have been tracing the spheres of public webcams: cameras installed in public or private spaces that automatically record images and spread them via the Internet.
I research where they are located, travel there, and get myself photographed. I was in New York and Moscow, in Las Vegas, London, and Novosibirsk. I went to more than 600 webcams in 17 countries. So far.
In New York, I was taken into police custody after standing around in front of a traffic webcam, later to be interrogated by the FBI.
Once I arrive at a webcam location, I place myself in front of the camera. As The Traveller, I stare back into the camera. Same clothes, same pose, every time. A bright shirt and a shoulder bag. You can recognize me in every image. You can watch me.
I contact a photographer to take my picture with a screenshot to preserve the transmitted data.
A lot of questions arise. Who sets up these automated cameras, and why? What do they show? Are people aware of them? Who needs these images? Who looks at them? Does the presence of a camera alter a site? What constitutes a photographic image in terms of authorship or quality?
The Traveller project examines borders of private and public grounds, global spread of imagery between irrelevance, information and surveillance, and the aesthetics involved.
Among many other places, The Traveller encountered the legendary coffee machine the world’s first webcam was pointed at, the European Space Agency (ESA) main control room, a huge cactus observed by four cameras, numerous street corners and backyards, and the inside of a New York police station—
arrested for strange behavior.
Jens Sundheim studied photography at University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Dortmund and University of Plymouth in Exeter, England. He lives in Dortmund, Germany and works wherever his travels lead him. www.jens-sundheim.de | www.the-traveller.org
Bernhard Reuss studied photography at University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Dortmund. He has numerous works with the camera obscura and has recently engaged in a gallery project. He lives and works in Wiesbaden, Germany. www.the-traveller.org