Case Study 3rdi – an illustration from contemporary art

In 2010 the Iraqi artist Wafaa Bilal surgically implanted a camera into the back of his head. The camera implant allowed him to record 1 minute of his daily life from December 14, 2010 – December 18, 2011, 316 days in total. This cutting edge practice of contemporary media art, is shocking, arresting, unusual and confusing. So how can we understand the motivation for this creative action? What ideas could help us to understand this radical and provocative gesture? I believe that primarily, Bilal was exploring notions of privacy and surveillance in the era of pervasive forms of new technology.

However, as this post looks essentially at POSTCOLONIALISM, I want to suggest that we can understand his performance under the theme of POSTCOLONIAL REPRESENTATION and IDENTITY, becuase 3rdi is about looking and being looked at about using visceral senses as mechanisms in a strategy to make better sense of ourselves and OTHERS. Indeed, it will be explored that the key to unlock an understanding of ourselves is held by ‘The OTHER’.

As such, the act of looking and ‘being looked at’, is an assimilation of SOCIETY, HISTORY, ECONOMICS and POLITICS, generally mediated through technologies of REPRESENTATION, reproduction and storage. So in many ways this is a post also about LITERACY. A way in which we can use media, culture, communications and technology to understand the complex relationship between society, self and community. As ever, I hope it helps.

our cultural identities reflect common historical experiences and shared cultural codes

Stuart Hall, 1997: 22

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