While doing some blog reading this afternoon, I came across Plutonium Page’s link to Animal Planet’s live PandaCam feed (requires Real Player), featuring the newborn panda cub, Tai Shan (maybe you’ve heard of him). Watching the live feed is utterly addictive and more than a little voyeuristic, kind of a panda cub version of The Truman Show.

As I write, the cub is sleeping, allowing a single stationary camera to capture Tai Shan as he sleeps, but earlier today, while the cub ate, played, and explored, you could watch as one camera, close to the ground, would slowly pan before being replaced by another high-angle, overhead shot. The slow camera movement and the impersonal cutting strangely reproduce what feels like the look of a surveillance camera. It’s an oddly clinical and scientific look given the intense emotions attached to the newborn panda, an attachment that is no doubt intensified by the fact that pandas are endangered. Plutonium Page also links to the WWF webpage on pandas, which is also worth checking out.

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  1. dan Said,

    December 10, 2005 @ 11:00 pm

    You might also check out National Geographic’s WildCam Africa, a live feed from a Botswana watering hole called “Pete’s Pond”. It’s also extremely addicting (especially during “peak” hours). The feed gives us a single mechanical back-and-forth pan (no cutting), and the animal inhabitants are not locked up under the camera’s gaze like the panda…. but it’s still fascinating:

  2. Chuck Said,

    December 11, 2005 @ 9:39 am

    Thanks for the tip. I’ll check it out. I recently taught an essay on web cameras and telepresence, so that sounds as if it would be worth checking out.

  3. heidi Said,

    December 11, 2005 @ 1:14 pm

    What’s the essay? This week I’ve been slightly obsessed with images from a construction web cam on campus and the Gavle, Sweden giant straw goat cam (since they rebuilt the goat after it was burned!).

  4. Chuck Said,

    December 11, 2005 @ 1:52 pm

    Heidi, it’s an essay by Thomas Campanella, “Eden by Wire,” anthologized in The Visual Culrure Reader, 2nd ed. I should be able to send you a PDF of it, actually, since I used it for my senior seminar….

  5. Sienna Brown Said,

    December 22, 2005 @ 12:39 am

    When I was studying for exams and could neither sleep nor read in the middle of the night I would watch the panda cam, I found it very soothing.

  6. Chuck Said,

    December 26, 2005 @ 2:20 pm

    Yep, it’s surprisingly soothing. Perhaps I can bring Pandacam with me to my MLA interviews and paper.

  7. Chuck Said,

    December 4, 2006 @ 12:40 pm

    I’ve been getting a number of hits from people looking for information on the Gavle Goat cam, so here’s a link to a Chicago Tribune story on Gavle, Sweden’s attempt to use surveillance cameras to guard the city’s traditional straw goat, which has been burned down almost every year in recent memory.

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