Artificial London Eyes

The Queen has come home with us. She won’t stop waving while there’s light: there’s a little solar panel in her hand bag. Her wave reminds me of Stalin’s wave, which was the party piece of a teacher I had once: he was an ardent anti-communist so naturally we had a passionate relationship. This teacher who was very lively, would make his face freeze in a Gulag grimace and, his head trembling slightly, entertain us by waving with his hand saying “Well done, Comrades.” This short boring video comes with a barely audible R&B soul track, an absurd riff on the royals. I wish I’d had a bagpipe (or how about a bagpipe orchestra, I wonder how that’d sound, end-of-the-world like?) instead to accompany the quietude of this Victorian wave at the beginning of the 21st century.

Didn’t see much of the Olympics this year, apart from the opening ceremony, which seems to have taken all the energy from the games themselves. I’ve rarely seen such a transgressive spectacle in which a nation tries to salvage everything that they have ever brought to the global party, including the Fantastic Five: Mr. Bean (clearly the highlight of it all), your Majesty the Queen seeming sleepy, smug Kenneth Branagh speaking Caliban’s lines, James Bond still bloody from his last postcolonial adventure, and to top it all off Tim Berners-Lee looking rather lost in front of a 20th century tabletop computing monster. We liked the fireworks!

I lost heart a little, I don’t even know why, when I saw many of the athletes, happy shiny people, enter the arena for the first time waving not their hands, but their digital recording equipment instead. A clear demonstration of the obsession of our age with simulating our lives for posterity and for friends at a distance. Though they got down and dirty later on.

They are looking at themselves and at us through the artificial eyes of their cameras while we look at them looking at us through similar artificial eyes so that later, forever and elsewhere, anywhere, others again can look at them looking at us looking at them.

Still there is no event that brings the world together like the Olympics. Can’t watch the closing ceremony, alas, but I’ll catch the highlights later on YouTube…rooting for Berlin 2024/2028

4 thoughts on “Artificial London Eyes

  1. Didn’t see the opening ceremonies, so was surprised to learn about this phone bit (it’s a brave new world, I guess)… Only saw the swimmers in groups and that was under situational reasons. Guess I’ve seen my share of the games … call me jaded… call me worse… Loved the little yellow-coated Queen doll here!

    • It took me a while to realize that something wasn’t quite right, or rather: different, because who am I to tell the athletes how to best celebrate the beginning of their games? Though I’m sure whose games they are must have been a potentially contentious issue from the start—just thinking about the 1936 games in Berlin.

  2. FANTASTIC: ‘They are looking at themselves and at us through the artificial eyes of their cameras while we look at them looking at us through similar artificial eyes so that later, forever and elsewhere, anywhere, others again can look at them looking at us looking at them’.

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