On @FFD8FFDB: Internet Eyes

@FFD8FFDB is a peek into how boringly beautiful the surveillance state can be. This bot by @derekarnold randomly tweets a frame from an unsecured webcam and adds a cryptic, random message.

When I first encountered FFD8FFDB, it make me feel uncomfortable, especially when seeing frames with discernible people in them. It can be a rather voyeuristic experience. These people probably aren’t aware of the recording, much less that it’s freely available online.


Over time, though, this experience becomes soothing. Nothing’s really happening except mundane still lifes. You aren’t witnessing crimes or atrocities (at least, I haven’t yet…)

There are 2 sides to FFD8FFDB: incidental, lofi beauty and the traces of surveillance and power. Surveillance cameras are being used to protect property, to reduce liability, to assert control, and to monitor civilians.

But you probably already know all that. There’s a beautiful side to this decentralized network of cameras. The sheer volume of images makes FFD8FFDB like a catalog of discarded machine memories that we can rifle through at our leisure. And these glimpses through the diffuse eye of the internet are truly lovely, with layered details, rich image compression artifacts, light streaks, disarming angles.

Here are some beautiful moments from FFD8FFDB.


A precious spreadsheet…

The truth, the light? 



Webcams Gaze Upon the Land

Over time, particular scenes become familiar. This is one of my favorites. A table with a heater? Sometimes it’s on. Sometimes it’s off. Other times there’s more equipment on the table with it. What is the camera watching over? What’s it protecting?

Thanks for reading!

If you like FFD8FFDB, you might also be interested in http://www.insecam.org/