Upon viewing ‘No Fun’, I was left with a strange feeling. I think it is one of the most provoking piece of work I’ve seen so far. Maybe because it made me think of ChatRoulette in a way I’ve never thought of before. I’ve always perceived the online webcam website to be filled with inappropriate conversations and other weird things that strangers exchange with each other in the late of night.
(Google results for “chat roulette”)
Yes, this proves my thoughts on chat roulette: a really sleazy website. So, I was really quite surprised upon viewing the Mattes’ work ‘No Fun’. I imagined that the users who log in for some light-hearted fun must have gotten quite a shock upon seeing Franco Matte hanging from a ceiling. The internet can be a really dark place sometimes, although these ‘dark’ places and ‘sleazy’ places may not necessarily share the same space. On Franco Matte’s staged suicide, I must say that it is quite well-executed. Death, suicide can be quite graphical, and I appreciate that he did it in such a way that makes the users of chat roulette (and viewers of this work) wondering if this is real or not rather than presenting in a very graphical and scary manner. Yet it is seemingly real and does create a certain amount of discomfort.
This prank does make me think about what are the reasons why people log onto chat roulette, or why such a website exists. In my opinion, I think it does come down to very basic human needs and desires: that we are essentially lonely, that the Internet provides us with a free (or at least relatively inexpensive) avenue to fill up the feeling of emptiness. Here I would like to draw a link to some quotes from the reading “Cyborgs” by Steve Dixon. Dixon mentions that “cyborgism constitutes a technological response to existential and spiritual uncertainties and crises…” He also mentions the presence of human desire: how we desire “wholeness within an alchemical, technological matrix”.
In my own definition of the term cyborg, I think of it as a robot that possesses seemingly ‘human’ qualities. People create machines primarily to make life more efficient, but I think people are also trying to humanize technology sometimes. Yes, machines will become more intelligent than humans, but what will separate mankind and machines is still the ability to feel, as we do possess the most complex spectrum of emotions, which machines may never replicate.
Some screen caps to illustrate my point:
Think of chat roulette as a center to summon up cyborgs, a virtual body to communicate with. I chose this screen caps because I think it really exemplifies the reasons I spoke of, for why people log on to the website: because people are lonely. These men seemed genuinely ready for some form of interaction and it shows in their shocked faces upon seeing Matte.
I will end my critique with this line from the reading:
“Humanness is characterized by struggle, by a fragile and uncertain journey fueled by the hope of capturing love, peace, fulfillment, and so on.”