The World Through a Webcam
The digital communications platform Zoom was originally developed to host business conference calls. Propelled by the ongoing pandemic, Zoom became a medium for digital classrooms, parties, sessions of parliament and virtual orgies, hosting wedding ceremonies and death sentencing by courts of law. Zoom’s success will become synonymous with the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the company has propelled forward, privacy concerns regarding the selling and leaking of data as well as attention and app tracking for ad usage grew. Several governments and companies banned the platform and initiated lawsuits. The company has been linked to the FBI and the Chinese secret service. Yet, Zoom’s licit and illicit actions remain unknown to the public. In the past months, as a sudden need for digitisation drastically pushed user numbers, news outlets and online feeds have reported on Zoom. This is the material that the World Through a Webcam is based on.
The World Through a Webcam gives access to “Backroom,” a hyper-real mock conference call platform which guides the user through a series of security questions which expose infrastructures and current issues around privacy and data security to highlight the “new normal” of the commodification of the digital realm emerging from this pandemic.
Art Direction, Research & Development: Felicity Morris
Web Development: Soyun Park, Berk Özdemir
Graphic Design: Tereza Nováková
Sound Design: Kirsten Spruit
Proofing: Eva Jack
Voiceover: Colin Keays, Benjamin Morris, Lorraine Young
Research Links Google Spreadsheet Link
Andrea Bagnato, “Staying at Home,” e-flux, 2020. Link
Anna Mitchell and Larry Diamond, “China's Surveillance State Should Scare Everyone,” The Atlantic, February 2, 2018. Link
Benedict Evans, “What Comes After Zoom?” Seeking Alpha, June 23, 2020. Link
“China forms new plan to seize world technology crown from U.S.,” Japan Times, May 21, 2020. Link
Davey Alba and Cecilia Kang, “So We're Working From Home. Can the Internet Handle It?” New York Times, March 16, 2020. Link
Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs, “Europeans' attitudes towards cyber security,” European Commission, November 7, 2017. Link
“Free Version of Zoom is Not Safe,” Anonymous Hackers, June 3, 2020. Link
Hito Steyerl and Franco Berardi, Hito Steyerl: The Wretched of the Screen (Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2012).
“Improving Our Policies as We Continue to Enable Global Collaboration,” Zoom, July 6, 2020. Link
“Inside China Tech: A tale of two targets—Huawei and Zoom,” South China Morning Post, April 11, 2020. Link
James Clayton, “Is the US about to split the internet?” BBC, August 6, 2020. Link
Jason Murdock, “Is Zoom safe and is your privacy at risk? Video calling app explained after hacking vulnerabilities exposed,” Newsweek, April 2, 2020. Link
Kat Tenbarge, “Here are the best funny images and memes to use as a Zoom background,” Business Insider, April 1, 2020. Link
Jon Sarlin, “Everyone you know uses Zoom. That wasn't the plan,” The Atlanta Voice, May 25, 2020. Link
Laura Feinstein, “‘Beginning of a new era’: How culture went virtual in the face of crisis,” The Guardian, April 8, 2020. Link
M.G. Siegler, “TikTok and Microsoft's Clock,” 500ish, August 4, 2020. Link
Noah Barkin, “Watching China in Europe,” German Marshall Fund, July 1, 2020. Link
Shira Ovide, “The Pandemic Feeds Tech Companies’ Power,” New York Times, April 8, 2020. Link
Shoshana Zuboff, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism (New York: Public Affairs, 2018).
Felicity Morris is a multi-disciplinary Narrative Designer. With a particular focus on domestic space and display, she explores themes through creative media to initiate ideas and create experiences for brands, organisations and human beings. Her studio works at the intersections of objects and spaces, culture and technology, mixing the tangible and digital world. She explores design and communicates a narrative that engages a range of mediums—from found and borrowed to created materials—to aid object- and site-specific research informing an experiential practice.