As reported in the Wall Street Journal, an NYU assistant arts professor has implanted a camera lens in the back of his head. With no record of his early nomadic years in the Middle East, his motivation is to document his next year, apparently in arrears. However, the camera will not be live 24/7 as might be expected from such a committed individual. Aside from his evenings (sleeping is apparently quite uncomfortable), during the day, he wears a lens cap to protect NYU students’ privacy. (Using a flap of skin or comb over was not considered reliable).
Equipment specifications begin with a “transdermal implant” that inserts a 10 MP camera beneath a large flap of skin on the back of his skull. Three titanium plate and post fixtures hold the camera in place. The skin is refitted leaving only the posts exposed and, of course, the auto-focus lens. The camera snaps images at one-minute intervals and then streams them on line. The URL has not been made public.
Although the professor has received pushback from friends about the potential intrusion (dinner invitations have dramatically declined), this would only seem to be a problem if you lose his attention and he turns his back on you. Keep the repartee lively and your privacy will remain intact. The “extras” behind him are the ones that need to watch themselves.
Which brings us to a serious question: what is the artistic viability of a rear perspective? It would seem intuitive that as humans, we always face the action. So does our director frame that moment by turning away from it? Or does his vision include a to-be-revealed choreography of forward and backward that will advance the cinematic art?
I don’t think so. In his overreach to push boundaries, the professor has simply discovered a different way to miss the good bits of his life. Again. One thing we know for sure. When you go to the cineplex, he’s not the guy you want in line ahead of you. Or for that matter, sitting in the next row down. Does 10 MP work in low light?