SIGN UP for the free Indie Focus movies newsletter The sharing of animal cuteness is what You Tube was apparently created for, but those are, of course, excerpts -- highlight reels cut from ongoing, mostly slow-moving life. I have been around long enough in this Internet-fed reality to recall the raw miraculous thrill of watching a blurry stream, in a window no bigger than a comic-book panel, from some foreign thoroughfare half a world away, with nothing to regard but the weather and traffic and light, but enlivened by the knowledge that it was all happening at that moment: life going on, within you and especially without you.Admittedly, I am a person who might plausibly utter the phrase, "You say 'it's like watching paint dry' as if that's a bad thing." (Cross a webcam with "The Real World" and "Survivor" and you get the spy-porn of "Big Brother" -- too consciously performative for my taste.)They are still out there, all over the globe, these fixed transmitters, transmitting in better resolution through bigger windows, but delivering the same more or less unmediated Warholian charge.(Dozens upon dozens can be found via the website Earth Cam.) And, like everything else that can be watched on a screen, they have gone mobile: Trying to find my way back to the camera pointed 24 hours a day at the crosswalk the Beatles iconically occupied for the cover of "Abbey Road" -- where I had once happily passed some winter hours in L. watching the snow come down on London and the human animals come and go between the cars and trucks and buses -- I discovered that, while the Web-based feed seems to have been shut down, there's now an app for that.
For new horizons in stillness there is a sloth cam, as well, also from Zoo Atlanta.
(Most Animal Planet Live feeds are operated in partnership with or by other organizations; and Atlanta's Panda Cam is also available on its own site; and other zoos have put their pandas online.) Sometimes there will be no animals visible at all, in which case there is the action of the wind in the grass to consider, or the progress of a leaf falling from a tree.
Lacking conventional narrative, and at times even what the lazy mind would consider activity, they encourage attention and even meditation, an attitude of being awestruck or just awww-struck -- though you might also contemplate, for instance, the painted backdrop that the bears cannot possibly mistake for mountains and trees, and go on to think about the meaning of zoos and our strange relationship with a natural world we are destroying at large and preserving in particular.
When there is less to look at, you might learn to look harder.
The woman behind and in front of the camera on the presently, though hopefully not permanently, officially unavailable web series "Adult Wednesday Addams," is back/still visible on your computer-hosted television.
(Note: I did say "officially.") "Wolfgirl" was Hunter's entry in an NBC Playground pilot competition seemingly inspired by Amazon's, and though it did not win, it's still around to watch. "Violet Bracket No Last Name Close Bracket," a girl raised by wolves and subsequently in a mental hospital, trying to find a place among normal, which is not to say healthy, humans, with sitcoms her only knowledge of the outside world.
"I grew up in San Francisco with my dad and my sisters and my two uncles, one uncle was cool and the other one was a total goofball," she tells the people whose roommate she is trying to become, adopting the characters from "Full House." It's the "Wednesday" idea, without the copyright headaches, and with more warmth, but still possessing an edge of danger and still asking questions about right behavior in a self-righteous world.
Animal Planet Live (tv); Abbey Road Cam (mobile app); Earth Cam (
As I write, I am watching a giant panda sleep; she or he (is that Lun Lun or Yang Yang?
) is hugging a big rock, or the man-made simulacrum of a rock, at the Atlanta Zoo, or Zoo Atlanta as it seems to want to be called, and is utterly still except for his/her breathing.
[Time passes.] Now there is another panda eating bamboo. The pictures come from a recently launched Panda Cam, the latest addition to Animal Planet Live, a webcam network that also snoops on parakeets, sharks, puppies, kittens, fish, otters, hedgehogs and whatever wild animals show up at at a certain watering hole in the Mpala Research Centre and Wildlife Foundation in Kenya.