Donnie Cam

March 2010

A complex piece where Ayumi Suzuki, Akiko Wakabayashi, and I became fascinated with a crappy webcam on the internet called “DonnieCam” showing a view of  a street corner in Amsterdam (live 24 hours a day). donniecam.html We wanted to infiltrate its power, use that view as if it were our own stage, and communicate with the big brother(s) watching it. We chose to make daily performances for one week on that street corner, writing enormous messages with chalk communicating with Donnie (and at the same time to all the other viewers that visit the website). “Hi Donnie are you there?” or “I am watching you” for example (the above picture is a compilation of our text).

We then took all the footage of our performances and made our own DonnieCam Website with almost the same look as the original which just looped the recorded video of our graffiti messages on the street. Making it seem like you were looking at what was happening in Amsterdam live but instead just watching our performance over and over again. A way of making our own permanent gallery. Also a way of giving homage to Donnie Cam.

You can check the site we made: donnicam.html

*This is a compilation of the video in the site:

  1. The crappy webcam started way back in 1995 as the famous showercam, a continuous loop of similar images showing my empty shower. The showercam was only a part of my website, which was built in anology to a house. The shower was just a part of that structure, but for some reason, it outnumbered every other space in number of visits.

    It were the early days of internet, still rough and undiscovered by the masses. New ideas evolved and more people started using this new medium. Time for changes. The showercam was deleted from the server, but the code remained dormant, until 2005, when the idea for the crappy webcam was born. We called it after our host, Don.

    The idea behind the crappy webcam was simple enough. When I was visiting Don, I loved looking out of his window. It was almost as if I was watching a stage, complete with actors, props, lighting et cetera. The scene started the moment I looked and ended just as easy when I didn’t. The camera enabled me to do the same, but remotely.

    Although I watch the crappy webcam every day, the magic stays and has even gotten more magical. While many people watch these days, others use the stage for their performances. Some only wave, where others use the stage ambitiously, ranging from a division of the image with a white line, to large, colorful drawings on the pavement.

    It’s amazing to see that, after fifteen years, the crappy webcam still excites people.

    • rietjereed said:

      Wow! Great story. I see now what I forgot to add to my text was how absolutely excited we were working with this site as well. It has a special charm because of it’s time delay or how i put it “crappy”-ness. Thasts what we love about it too. We also got to meet Don (our main big brother), and he explained to us how his setup and system works. So although our project was set to test things, it’s not at all intended in a malicious manner. More so like you say “using this stage and becoming excited about it”. Thanks for your comment!

  2. kazia said:

    Donniecam offers me complete escapism from my humdrum life! I view most days and visit the actual place a couple of times a year, if I’m lucky. Love it! Wish I had Donnie’s view! Loved the pavement art phase too!

  3. Robert said:

    I stumbled upon the webcam after returning from Amsterdam. A city unlike my own. The webcam gave me a Twilight Zone of happiness whenever I looked out my magic window. I’ve not found a better webcam at a window on another normal. I watch the yearly procession of life in Amsterdam and make it part of my world. It’s a harmless hobby, but it gives me such easy glee.

    I’ve returned to Amsterdam twice. I make a pilgrimage to the bridge. I’m going for my birthday this year. I can’t wait. Until then I get to watch. With a smile.

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