. For example, one such point of contention argues that many popular film products construct spectating positions and the narrative fantasy scenarios whereby women become the object of sexually orientated male visual pleasures. Such observations raise very serious questions concerning not only mainstream culture, but the supporting visual apparatus [in this instance, surveillance systems], as a technology not only of control and discipline, but also of male power. But these early feminist critiques were flawed by implying both an essentialist sexual politic and advocating the determinist and therefore non-negotiable operation of any visual apparatus [the cinema, etc.]. This effectively foreclosed the opportunity for women to work with processes emphasising the »look« and thereby the possibility to devise different forms of visual pleasure. Naldi and Kirkup have chosen to directly engage with such issues by intervening with certain visual technologies: a closed-circuit television surveillance system as a means to construct a different space from which to articulate an alternative and previously unheard voice.
In addition, the surveillance system can quite reasonably be dubbed a technology of »male« power, not least because it is operated by a public service institution renowned for privileging male officers and for servicing the interests of corporate business. Furthermore, as part of the fabric of the city center, this is a public space given over - not only to »work« - but to a visible demonstration of corporate and civic power which further consolidates this inscription of patrician authority.
Given these characteristics governing the physical setting – the visual operation of the video enactment and the emphasis upon the inquisitional »look« [all part of the visual apparatus of the surveillance system] - it is quite fitting that Search was »sited« on television. Put simply, TV is not only a visual technology but, like the city, operates a »public« space which is ideologically complicit, its ubiquitous nature, as a cultural format and as a physical unit, disguising its exclusivity in terms of real cultural access and again its dependency upon the market-place and private capital – both as a physical unit and in terms of the network´s dependence on advertising. It was as part of this latter »space« that Search was broadcast. As grainy black and white, short, silent sequences segued into the flow of glossy, full color highly conventionalised, yet seductive, mini-dramas centering on lifestyles. The Search »episodes« effectively disrupted the flow of these impossible dream-like spectacles. On one occasion, Search struck a freakish note of discord squeezed, as it was, between commercials for hair colorants and baby food during the advertising break of that off-peak, yet hugely popular, day-time viewing favourite This Morning. Less bizarre alliances were made when, as was the more common tendency, Search was scheduled at the end of the police-based drama series The Bill and alongside Crimestoppers [the Public Service Announcements detailing criminal incidents such as theft, and which often feature the same awkward, grainy, black and white video images culled from closed-circuit television surveillance systems]. The Search episodes, then, functioned as an interventionist strategy akin to some pirate TV transmission in both appearance and enigmatic effect. Although, paradoxically, in order to be realised the project quite literally »bought into« these advertising slots.
Through Search, Pat Naldi and Wendy Kirkup have demonstrated and articulated two features predominant in contemporary culture, namely paranoia and voyeurism, in which certain technologies of [male] power become part of the ideological social totality, which as Foucault has argued, we have created for ourselves
[from: LOCUS SOLUS - site, identity, technology in contemporary art.
Julian Stallabrass, Pauline van Mourik Broekman, Niru Ratnam, Black Dog Publishing, 2000, pp. 38-43.]
1 Foucault, Michel, Discipline and Punish, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1979. ^
2 Mulvey, Laura, »Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema«, in Screen, 16, no. 3, Autumn 1975. ^