Bang Bang Con

Recently the K-pop boy band Bangtan Sonyeondan (BTS) garnered around 750k viewers for its online concert Bang Bang Con. Con stands for Concert, one Bang stands for the band’s name, while the other refers to room (in Korean, bang). All in all, a great concert to view from the comforts of your room. BBC’s programming takes the room as the default living/viewing space in the pandemic era as its foundation: architecturally (BTS’s big-scale concerts give way to small studio floors that resemble different rooms in the house), in its logo design (a multi-storied house with many rooms), and even thematically (the performances are interwoven with scenes of the band members, viewing the concert from the comforts of their own homes). BTS’s typical large-scale synoptic concert design which keeps all eyes glued to the stage gives way to the seemingly informal format of amateur performances, where members hold Samsung cameras and perform as if in a selfie or insta-live session. Yet when interpreted differently, the intimate, haptic images of these stars split across 8 screens resemble multiple CCTV feeds projected onto a large screen in one’s own personal bunker. To view these images from the comforts of a darkened space, to focus on images while stonewalling the world outside has been the oldest imaginations of visual culture and its surveillance dispositives. The bunker has always been a secluded crypt. But with the proliferation of digital media, the once-specialized viewing of CCTV images pervades all our lives and spaces of living. Every room is a bunker.