:: I was making light of something serious, like women always do when something serious is happening but we don’t know what else to do.
To The Creep Who Videoed Me And Called It Art:
Yesterday, my husband offered to drop me at a coffee shop to work, and I said no.
“I don’t know if some creep might video me when I’m not looking.”
I was making light of something serious, like women always do when something serious is happening but we don’t know what else to do.
You, a person who is apparently an artist (and apparently named William Noland), secretly videoed me. And now you are projecting my image on museum walls all over the country without my permission.
I just found out about it.
I kind of wish I still didn’t know.
Now that I know, I feel like a creepy stalker dude creepily videotaped my face and body without my permission or knowledge and is making a creepy career using my face and body without my permission (or, until lately, my knowledge).
I haven’t been to a coffee shop since. I’ve stayed inside.
I’m a writer. I love working in coffee shops.
I emailed the director of the museum and told him how terrible the creepy art exhibit is making me feel. I’ve never heard back from him.
I read the description of your art exhibit, called “Dream Rooms,” on the art museum’s website. The description is, at best, ironic.
Dream Rooms examines our wired world of the 21st century. Individuals are seen in coffee shops, wholly absorbed, their trancelike states brought on primarily through an intense engagement with the alternate reality presented by laptops and smart phones.
They are immersed in an interior world of concentration and at times of pleasure, seemingly oblivious to the often busy and noisy surroundings.
You, the artist, preyed on my immersion in my work, on my obliviousness to my surroundings—on my trust in the people I was working near.
You broke my trust in, quite literally, everyone around me.
The long takes of Dream Rooms seek to lay bare the effects of technologically mediated intimacy and chronic multitasking. Questions arise: Are we being rewired by our relationship to interactive media? And how does the idea of surveillance alter our experience of these individuals? Each character is intimately examined in public space, comfortably anonymous and secure in the privacy of his or her thoughts and behavior, while the gaze of the camera records impulses and reactions.
I don’t want to be surveilled, but I didn’t have a choice.
I don’t want to be experienced, but I didn’t have a choice of that either.
I don’t want to be intimately examined, but I don’t have a choice of that.
I’m not secure, or private.
The gaze of the camera has shattered my feelings of security and privacy.
That’s the male artist’s privilege. And my female body is now a stranger’s to consume.
EDIT: The museum has taken down the exhibit. Read the follow-up post about it here.
Post updated 10/27/2016
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The complete story of my experience with the NCMA and this artist is now a chapter in my book EVEN IF YOU’RE BROKEN: Essays on Sexual Assault and #MeToo (Blue Crow Books, November 2019), called “Nightmare Room.” You can order a copy here: bit.ly/evenifyourebroken.