We Live in Public: Web-Cam Narcissism Runs Amok

Documentarian Ondi Timoner lends her credulity and camera to swollen, damaged egos who believe themselves visionaries. We Live in Public documents 10 years in the life of dot-com multimillionaire-cum-installation artist Josh Harris, a clammy-looking loaf with none of the schizo firing-synapse spark that made musician Anton Newcombe a suitable study for her 2004 DiG!. "One of the first great artists of the 21st century" (self-proclaimed), Harris' primary claim to fame was Quiet, a locked-down scopophilic millennial commune for which he footed the bill in exchange for the rights to tape and live-broadcast every intimate moment of the participants, all interwired in a web of constant mutual surveillance, presented as a model of the post-privacy online future. Harris' canard, which Timoner echo-chambers, is to insist that the behavior of a flawed test sample—trend-susceptible, extrovert, extended-adolescent "artists"—observed under this unique set of circumstances has any relation to how most people use computers. As with DiG!, Timoner cuts her material to fit preconceptions. Incapable of separating bluster from inspiration, she excludes any dissenting voice that might suggest that Harris' Quiet, a spasm of manic profligacy born of short- circuiting megalomania, isn't artistically significant (it isn't).

 
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