This website was created by two such people, fish among other fish, who “enjoy” Tiktok, “nature” webcams, delicious mass-produced candy, etc as much as any other person with the privileges of access within Capitalism. We are certain this does not apply universally to experiences of viewers/viewees, and intend to make no claim that it does.


In 1994, there was a revolution: the first Fishcam, and the second live camera on the web (read about the first webcam: Trojan Room Coffee Pot).

Lou Montulli invented the first Fishcam while working at Netscape; Netscape broadcast an aquarium of fishes live. The Fishcam was originally designed to test computer features, but soon it became extremely popular (they even added a browser shortcut to get to Fishcam, CTRL+ALT+F in Netscape Navigator).

This paved the way for future fishcams, but also ottercams and … peoplecams.

There were other predecessors to the Fishcam, but missing the crucial network of the World Wide Web (est. for the public in 1991).

One of those was Pausefisk—“break fish.” This stream of mundane fish imagery filled the gaps between broadcasting of Danish TV by the NRK when they lacked content. Pausefisk would become abstracted into a Danish word meaning that something good was coming soon.

To quote Capitalist Realism by Mark Fisher, “a system of ‘perpetual consumption,’” livestreams fill the need for constant stimulus, the “...soft narcosis, the comfort food oblivion of Playstation, all-night TV, and marijuana.”

This endless stream of “live” or pre-recorded content and pleasure-stimulus can include videos from Africam of animals in the wild in Africa alongside humans monetizing the slow experiences of daily life, video games in real time, painting, etc.

Is consumption religion? People nowadays view web streaming ritualistically, which forms the fabric of daily life...the sounds of trees and birds replaced by spikes and lulls of unrelated audiovisual blah. Yet, don’t they also provide us with spiritual comforts?

If we consider webcamming as religion, the virtual spectacle then becomes a sacred space; on the other hand, the natural, the so-called real life, consequently becomes a secular space. It is fair to say, internet connection is a posthuman leap of faith.

Watching just to watch and/or watching to love. In Kikuko Tsumura’s 2016 novel There’s No Such Thing As An Easy, the central character finds herself caring deeply about each of a series of temp jobs; she can become deeply invested in any activity, even monitoring surveillance footage. According to an addicted webcam user, “Even if the conditions are shit, I will still look."

A mass evasion of silence. Give us beauty! Give us pleasure! The soft motion of the fish…the pleasing tank blues…

What is closeness/distance via webcam? There is always the potential to be in contact with anyone else with internet access, yet how close is this contact? How real?

Cuteness: Between 7 AM and 5 PM you can access the cuteness of the Monterey Bay Aquarium penguins. Or “enjoy [their] sea otters as they frolic and swim… don’t worry! The otters will be back shortly, we promise.” The late-capitalist hedonia thrives...

We can easily fill all the voids in time with webcam videos, endless joy, yet there is a latent sense that “something is missing." Did we actively pursue that joy? Or, we were passively seduced, embraced, absorbed, then digested by the camworld.

What is cuteness anyways? The cute subject on camera is not harmful or threatening: there is a power structure. We can call them cute, but we can also disturb them, abuse them, consume them. Watch the giant pandas fall to the ground.

Logics of excess: in this state of endless consumption, we reach the limits of our capacities to watch media, that is, the boundaries of our own lives and existences in time. Creators reach those same limits; ordinary life runs out when always recorded to put online, and must be fabricated.

There is no more public/private space or life or time.

How comprehensive can a livestream really be? The world exists forever (?), data decays, the camera breaks, humans die…

Individuals profit off of livestreaming, and so do big organizations. Fishcam/animal cams are great tools for advertising and generating hype. The Minnesota State Fair, Monterey Bay Aquarium, and many other animal-hosting orgs have popular livestreams.

Livestreaming has become a major marketing strategy. The corporate establishment and the influencer nouveau-riche alike love it.

Does watching a cow moo replace seeing the real thing? Are you genuinely close with your favorite cammer? (In physical space, likely not.)

We are craving reality. We want authentic life. We want Forest Bathing, #vanlife, broken phones, silent ringers, dead devices, wellness retreats, a resurgence of vinyl…

The IRL Fetish is a 2012 article by Nathan Jurgenson. In it, he points out that “we are far from forgetting about the offline; rather we have become obsessed with being offline more than ever before.” As digital reality has crept up on and invaded the Real (or more positively conceived, become a new home, a new default), “we've never cherished being alone, valued introspection, and treasured information disconnection more than we do now.”

While the god complex might not seem like a good look, this pseudo-multiverse can help us understand other people’s living conditions. But how do you feel about Western audiences watching Africam, one of the main nature cam sites?

Whether we expand each of our “reals” or merely fetishize them, we are…enjoying ourselves. As fish happily live in fish tanks, many of us live in social media, happily. The birds gather, slink alongside one another, the streamers speak and fill our silences, and we have no shortage of beautiful images to occupy our sights. It feels good, great! We roll through time as if upon a blessed, cozy mobius strip, running back over itself infinitely…

How often do you turn on the TV, sports, livestreams, and vlogs to fill the spaces of your day?

Mark Fisher: “To be bored simply means to be removed from the communicative sensation-stimulus matrix of texting, Youtube, and fast food; to be denied for a moment, the constant flow of sugary gratification on demand.” Hence watching slow TV… webcams, etc.

Opening TikTok or Twitch to watch a livestream, you might notice that there is no beginning and no end. Any gaps in your day can be filled with this endless stream of low-interest, IRL-paced content to quench your need for constant stimulation.

Fisher describes this state as “hedonia,” in contrast with “anhedonia,” a classic symptom of depression, meaning an inability to experience pleasure from things formerly pleasurable. In his (essential) book Capitalist Realism, Fisher writes, “Many of the teenage students I encountered seemed to be in a state of what I would call depressive hedonia…an inability to do anything else except pursue pleasure.”

The web, a candy-bag of this palliative consumption is also the place to discuss its effects. A “cured” member of Internet and Technology Addicts Anonymous describes “always searching for the next interesting piece of media to give a kick to my emotions…I watched for the purpose of watching.” Viewers experience genuine addiction to media, entrapped by a matrix profiting off of their attention.

“The spectacle erases the dividing line between self and world, in that the self- under siege by the presence/absence of the world, is eventually overwhelmed; it likewise erases the dividing line between true and false, repressing all directly lived truth beneath the real presence of the falsehood maintained by the organization of appearances. The individual, though condemned to the passive acceptance of an alien everyday reality, is thus driven into a form of madness in which, by resorting to magical devices, he entertains the illusion that he is reacting to this fate.”

― Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle

Descriptions of livestreams argue that the live interaction is what appeals to people, leading to higher rates of viewership. The Department of Social Psychology at Tilburg University in the Netherlands found emotional “contagion effects” in a study of social network user/creators. Livestreams receive more comments than pre-recorded videos. Participants feel a satisfying sense of community, belonging, social connection.

Post-digital life is so fractured. Yet humans, whose technologies have outpaced bodily adaptations, seem to still crave belonging. Where is the subject of the video/images? Where is the viewer?

People crave belonging, love. A neighborhood.

Debord: “The images detached from every aspect of life merge into a common stream in which the unity of that life can no longer be recovered. Fragmented views of reality regroup themselves into a new unity as a separate pseudoworld that can only be looked at.”

Camgirls are also cute, and interactive. You can sometimes get immediate feedback from streamers, especially when you tip them. Recognition from a favorite reminds you that you exist, if only online.

Top female streamers are noticeably beautiful. KittyPlays shows a sliver of her cleavage and full eyelashes on her streaming home page. Dinglederper’s page has adorable drawings of dogs.

Mental health is a serious issue in the world of streaming. Sitting in a bedroom, talking to the camera for 8 hrs straight almost everyday, you are "always on," just like your devices. “Community” is a feedback machine with a negative bias. Is a number of viewers a community?

Some dynamics are distinctly negative: parasocial relationships, harassers, trolls, stalkers. Streamers can make a lot of money, but at what cost to themselves? To their viewers?

In China, as the cities expand, living spaces of marginalized people like farmers become smaller and smaller. But we (from positions of privilege, especially technological) are still curious about their living conditions, and we continue to consume them through social media and web streaming. Which is similar to our relationships with animals: we have pushed animals away to build our human world, but a part of us still yearns to connect with them. So we watch animals through webcams…

Is this a good thing? Animal cams and human cams surely have potential to bring positive influence… But they can also be pathways of exploitation.

E-commerce loves livestreaming. Perhaps because it seems social—like a “friend” recommending nice things. It also helps to blur the edges of advertisements. Life in late-stage capitalism is one big media binge and one big billboard advertisement, videoed live.

Viewing Tiktok, we feel an illusion of becoming God. Time (there) (wherever that is) isn’t linear: we have access to clips of almost unlimited times/spaces (different realities).

You can swap windows with any place in the world. Observe nearly any corner. “Walk” through the streets on google maps. Your gaze has no bounds.

Are we living more or less because of them? Are we closer to or further away from the world?