Amie Siegel
from
Into the Eye of the Storm

What happens when subject and author meld – when people record themselves for the world they imagine is watching them? Approximately 88% of the 9000 hours of video content uploaded onto YouTube each day is created by ordinary people with personal computers or video cameras. For My Way 1 (2009), Amie Siegel gathered the online video performances of teenagers singing the pop hit Gotta Go My Own Way alone in their bedrooms. The performers stage themselves amid their toys, posters, and pictures – in the small private spaces they have decorated themselves, while projecting varied degrees of intensity, emotion, and identification. These are their most private spaces, yet computers and cameras simultaneously situate them in the most public forum imaginable: the Internet. Their audience could be anywhere in the world, at any point in the future, and under any circumstances (though being watched in an art gallery may not have crossed their imaginations at the time). Ironically, the uniformity of expression in these clips stands out in stark contrast to the song about striking out on one’s own, actualizing individuality, and “going their own way.” These clips are suffused with a deeply human quality, and give voice to our ability to identify with another’s personal expression. These teenagers are living out personal fantasies that are shared by thousands. There is no mockery here, only pure revelry and a raw desire to display oneself to an other. The online “audience” in this case is not composed of passive spectators. Rather, it consists of both a projected viewer and an active global community of people producing culture, candidly sharing in what connects us to one another in our brave new world of anonymous public selves.