Niccolò Tucci, futurist
I am here tonight to (not so very dogmatically) assert that this particular webcam trained on the Rue de Rivoli in Paris is predicted by the little-boy narrator in “Terror and Grief,” Niccolò Tucci’s short story in the 11/15/1958 New Yorker. The relevant sentences:
Just as we always looked for our parents in the post cards they sent us, so we looked for them in the picture books on the living-room table. “Today they are in Paris. Let’s try to find them.” The big green book with “Vues de Paris” in gold on the cover was placed on the carpet and opened. … (A) new image was before us—the Rue de Rivoli taken with a camera in full daylight, the shadows quite visible and clouds in the sky.
“Here they are, entering this car.”
“No, they are here. See? There’s Father.”
“Oh, no, you are mistaken. I think they are back here, clear outside of the page. They will reach it tomorrow.”
“No, they are right here in this car, and we can’t see them.”
This was only a game and we knew it, and yet the longing for our parents was such that to look at those crowds in the streets of Paris was like being close to them. If anyone had told me that a new person had come into a certain page, I would have believed it—or at least I would have looked, with an absurd hope in the back of my mind. And I did, in fact, look every morning, knowing that this was madness. Had those been drawings and not photography, I would never have thought of doing such a thing, but photography was real; that was exactly what those people had looked like in the Rue de Rivoli. Only one more thing was needed—that the picture go right on developing itself after it had been taken and after it had been printed in this book. And some day, by means of other inventions, such as the waves in the ether, perhaps this would be possible.
“Terror and Grief” is included in Tucci’s The Rain Came Last & Other Stories, which I bought thanks to Thomas Beller, who read and discussed Tucci’s “The Evolution of Knowledge” for the January 2012 edition of the New Yorker Fiction Podcast. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve listened to that one.