Hille Koskela

Senior Lecturer, Department of Geography, University of Helsinki (FI)

Transparent Deviance/Empowering Exhibitionism

My presentation deals with two contemporary phenomena: video surveillance of public urban space and 'the other side of surveillance' i.e. Internet webcams. The amount of visual representations has been multiplied: we have reached the point where cameras can be literally anywhere, viewing a huge range of spaces and activities. I will use four theoretical concepts to discuss the issue. (1) Protective voyeurism is what video surveillance is supposed to be: making the 'deviant' transparent and helping to control them. (2) Empowering exhibitionism relates to privately owned webcams: people 'reclaim the copyrights' of their own lives by controlling their visibility and the distribution of visual images. (3) Banal voyeurism describes how people want to see 'nothing happening': this process is reinforced by the media which encourages people to observe any odd or newsworthy occasions by buying and publishing mobile phone pictures. (4) Fame seeking exhibitionism relates to the popularity of both reality TV and webcams: people dream of being seen, noticed and famous. The condition of 'over-production' and increasing circulation of images creates need for conceptual understanding of the new forms of looking, seeing, presenting and circulating images.

Hille Koskela is a senior lecturer in the Department of Geography, University of Helsinki, Finland. Her research interests include video surveillance and the politics of control, public attitudes towards surveillance, the emotional experience of being watched, media use of surveillance tapes, 'urban security politics', and most recently, webcams as voluntary visual representations on the Internet. Currently she is involved in a research project which analyses the connection between visual surveillance and voluntary visual representation of the self and examines how webcams expose cultural tensions surrounding conceptions of visibility, agency and power. She has previously conducted research also on women's fear of violence in cities, prostitution and sexual harassment, multiculturalism, subcultures and graffiti, as well as theoretical reasoning on the changing nature of urban space. She has published several articles in journals such as Urban Geography, Progress in Human Geography , Geoforum , and Gender, Place and Culture . She is the editor in chief of the Finnish journal Alue ja Ympäristö , and a member of the editorial boards of journals Surveillance and Society, Social and Cultural Geography and Crime, Media, Culture.