GoPro panopticon: performing in the surveyed leisure experience
Introduction Wearable cameras have become popular for recording adventure sports and leisure activities, and take many forms. While most are mounted on helmets or put on chest harnesses to film from point-of-view perspectives or mounted on sports equipment to film oneself, others are integrated as clip-on jewellery or sunglasses that house cameras in their nose-bridges. While some are more easily visible and others are completely hidden, all of them make it close to impossible to know whether they are recording or not. They no longer have viewfinders and almost none feature digital screens to look through or at when filming, representing aspects that are actively promoted by manufacturers as design innovations. Many offer automated visual documentation, taking photos at pre-specified time intervals (Bosker, 2014; Rettberg, 2014), while other models do not even feature an on/off button, but turn on when detecting movement. Such ‘invisible’ cameras – that is, cameras that are either not easily distinguishable or that do not make it obvious when they are recording – necessitate a different understanding of performing for photos and videos during leisure experiences. Photography is considered a staged performance in tourism (Crang, 1997; Edensor, 2000) – a moment that is somehow outside of or external to the tourist experience. Such a perspective assumes that tourists know when they are being recorded, and that they opt to participate in the performance of photography by posing for pictures or modifying their behaviour in some other form. Emerging digital technologies undermine this perspective as wearable cameras do not require participants to hold them in their hands, signifying filming to others, and automatic visual documentation does not even inform the wearer of the camera when photos or video are being taken. Performing for the camera in the traditional sense as delineated moments of performance therefore does not offer a sufficient theoretical foundation. The marketing of wearable cameras suggests that such invisibility and uncertainty about recording will free up participants to fully immerse themselves in their experiences and forget about being filmed. From this perspective, performing for the camera would disappear as a distinct element of leisure experiences. This chapter argues that rather than becoming diminished, such performances
become more prolonged and integrated as part of the overall experience with emerging digital technologies (Dinhopl and Gretzel, 2015) and that performances for photo-and video-recording moments must be considered to be much more deeply embedded in the experience rather than less. This argument builds on Foucault’s (1977) use of the panopticon, a watchtower in prison, as a model to explain the effects of candid surveillance. The panopticon allows the observation from a single vantage point without the observed knowing whether they are being observed or not, leading them to believe they are being watched at all times. From this perspective, participants’ uncertainty about being recorded will lead them to behave as though they are being recorded at all times. As a result, it may be assumed that performances are no longer confined to acts of photo taking or video recording, but rather span the entire leisure experience. This chapter explores in particular how lifestyle sports enthusiasts in the snowboarding community participate in recording with ‘invisible’ cameras – that is, cameras that are either not easily distinguishable from equipment or that do not make it obvious when they are recording. The chapter is organised at the start with a theoretical section to build on existing foundations for understanding performing in tourist photography/videography as well as the importance of authenticity in lifestyle sports. Snowboarding is introduced as the case study context to highlight how leisure sports enthusiasts integrate video recording with wearable cameras into their experiences, and how the ‘invisibility’ of wearable cameras further enhances snowboarders’ tendencies to ‘be authentic’. The results of the case study are first presented and then discussed in relation to the theoretical arguments outlined, and the chapter concludes with implications for future research.