THE ONE I THINK I AM
DV, 20:32min, 2005
Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, it is one of the basic tenets of our daily lives that our images are each day captured more times than we can possibly know. That even the most apparently innocent public space is actually a maze of focal lengths, frames, exposures. Artificial eyes that miss nothing, and never sleep. One recent statistic claimed that, in the UK (at present, and for whatever reason, one of the most densely-scrutinised countries in the world), the inhabitants of major cities are caught on CCTV and surveillance cameras an average of twenty-six times a day. Entering banks, yes, and in shopping malls and on train platforms - but also inside buses and taxis, in parks, even standing innocently on the street. A vast library of images, to be either filed away or discarded, noted or ignored. But captured and - for a moment at
least - held. The end of the process is both obvious and inevitable: a society in which everyone is visible at every moment.
An eloquent as well as provocative example of video art, Nina Toft's “The one I think I am...” interrogates the implications of this technological shift on individual behaviour. A single-screen installation, shot on in Edinburgh's Haymarket station and lasting approximately twenty minutes, it depicts a succession of men and women waiting for trains. The filming took place during the morning, and as such, reveals people either on their way to work or otherwise commencing their day. There is an air of sleepy
resignation to their stances, a slack equanimity on many of their faces. For some time we watch, unobserved. The alchemy occurs when they notice the camera. All at once, the illusion of voyeurism is shattered, and we as spectators are still naïve enough, still sufficiently grounded in the conventions of narrative cinema, to find it startling and somehow almost improper that someone should look back at us in this way. Should we break down the Fourth Wall with such impunity - and in so doing, dispel the notion of our own omniscience. If we can see, the work seems to say, then we can also be seen. An obvious conclusion that seems, nevertheless, to possess the force of a revelation.
from essay by Shane Danielson