30 January 2020, 4 pm, Odette Hall 323
As an installation in the bi-annual Wiesbaden Biennale Theatre Festival, Thomas Bo Nilsson and his partner Julian Eicke created Betreutes Leben, or its alternate title: Ezzelinolivecams.net. The dramatic installation is hinged on three major premises: Ezzelinolivecams.net is a real streaming website, where people from all over the world can submit their fantasies for actors to act out; the studio for Ezzelinolivecams.net exists in Wiesbaden where these actors live and work; and the audience is just as fictional as the studio and website in interacting with Betreutes Leben. Despite all three existing in reality but not all to the same capacity in the fabric of society, the actors are nonetheless surveilled by the audience online. Betreutes Leben through the interweaving of fictional place, real website and place with an audience, reveals a dichotomy in our understandings of surveillance and its usage, which I will call the fiction of surveillance.
Surveillance functions on the premise that the deed has not yet been seen but is imagined to be happening. It is with certainty that surveillance is used to see what has not yet happened. The audience, despite being in the “real” world, is an integral part to the fiction that they surveil online through ezzelinolivecams.net. In short, they are disoriented. In surveillance, the goal is to observe and report the deviant and could-be-deviant, but the only way for the deviant to be seen or even defined is for the observer to initiate the surveillance. The audience in their disorientation here must attempt to surveil the actors via the webcams given to them.
John Evjen is a PhD student in the Department of Germanic Languages & Literature at the University of Toronto.
If you have any accommodation needs, please e-mail email@example.com, and we will do our best to assist you.