Seeing Popular Support

Here is an interesting case. Having co-created a camera small enough to fit into a prosthetic eyeball, Rob Spence is the man with an empty eye socket to spare; his is the (unfortunately titled) “Eyeborg”. I’ll let IEEE contributor Tim Hornyak do the run-down:

The prototype in the video provides low-res images, but an authentic experience of literally seeing through someone else’s perspective. The image is somewhat jerky and overhung by huge eyelashes; a blink throws everything out of whack for a half-second.
The bionic eye is simply designed, and components are constantly changing. It basically contains a 1.5mm-square, low-res video camera, a small round printed circuit board, video transmitter, and a 3-volt rechargeable Varta microbattery. The components are contained in resealable clear acrylic used in false eyes, but it has two holes for wires to recharge the battery.
“I can recharge my eye via USB off my laptop,” says Spence.

While the tech here is certainly intriguing, what I’m enjoying so much (despite the ham-fisted promo vid above) is just who the first person to don the eye-camera is.  Spence is apparently a filmmaker with a vested interest in Science Fiction, and specifically The Six Million Dollar Man. In the IEEE report, Spence references Star Trek’s Seven of Nine and the Borg. “In today’s world, you have Facebook and camera eyes,” he says. “Tomorrow, we’ll have collective consciousness and the Borg. It’s a collective robot consciousness. I believe that’s a genuine modern concern.”

A concern it may be, but judging by the blunt references in the video to The Six Million Dollar Man and his addition of a red LED light to the eye piece, Spence doesn’t seem worried, per-say, about any so-called “collective robot consciousness”. Indeed while his jokes and the video itself are blatant grasps at publicity, it can’t be denied that Spence is enjoying himself. Having been exposed to bionic men sine he “was a kid”, Spence obviously appreciates the allure of cyborg enhancements, and is hoping to tap into the (most definitely collective) appeal of the futuristic.

And then there’s the fact that he’s a filmmaker. Certainly there are creative possibilities for filming from such a natural vantage point,  but doing so does return us to last weeks post on the dangers of total simulacra. Film has always tried to recreate the effects of natural vision, and if we see the Eyeborg as an early culmination of the growing portability of camera technology, then it becomes easy to imagine people sharing and transmitting their personal vision. This leap of intimacy would be comparable to the one between cinema and the comfy home video of Youtube.

If 60% of the world already has a cellphone (and even half of those are equipped with cameras), it isn’t hard to imagine a loss of distinction between meaningful and carefully selected presentations of images and the pure flow of personal vision. No longer, “What if everyone was a filmmaker?”, the question now becomes “What if everyone’s life was a film?”.

[IEEE Spectrum via Boing Boing]


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