The Voyeurs’ Manifesto

“All art is autobiographical; the pearl is the oyster’s autobiography.”
Federico Fellini,
Film director (1965, quoted in Popova 2012)

I am, by nature, a curious person. That’s a nice way of saying nosy. I watch people
at every opportunity – on the street, in cafes, on public transport. I don’t think I’m
unusual in this respect but perhaps I am too honest about it.

I particularly like the onset of twilight when I can enjoy the slightly guilty pleasure of seeing into windows when the occupants have switched on the lights but not yet drawn the blinds or curtains. I smile at the unintentional theatre of a person dancing in the kitchen while they cook, convinced that they are safe and hidden in their personal space. I absorb the details of their environment – the poster on the wall, the retro lamp in the corner, the glow from their television screen. They are quite unaware that aspects of their agency are seeping
out and leaving this trace.

My act of viewing transforms it from domestic mundanity to ephemeral performance art, a variant on the ‘invisible theatre’ described by Bishop. I am slightly ashamed of my unknown intrusion but that actually adds to the thrill. I have turned these ordinary people into unwitting unpaid actors, on a stage that they pay for, framed in the proscenium arch of their own window. Whether or not Fellini’s oyster makes a conscious choice, the pearl remains, its laminated structure building until separated from its creator.