These days people spend most of their lives in front of their computer screen or on a mobile device. So it didn’t surprise French artist Dora Moutot when she found dozens of videos on the Internet of men and women expressing themselves in their most vulnerable moments.
The videos she would see featured wide-eyed teenagers staring into webcams, crying their eyes out for often no given reason.
But there was a reason this kept happening, the 24-year-old artist told the Daily Dot.
“People don’t call today; they send you an email to break up, you might have a huge fight on the Facebook chat, etc.. A big part of your life goes through your computer and your computer is your first spectator. I’m myself part of the Myspace generation. I started to self-photograph myself very early, and I started to use a webcam when I was 14. I had heartbreaks in front of my computer, and I started to record my tears.”
It was that personal experience and the photographs of Laurel Nakadate that inspired Moutot to create Webcam tears, a Tumblr blog of YouTube and Vimeo videos “depicting contemporary sadness in an voyeuristic Internet era through the medium of the webcam.”
Since starting the blog four months ago, Moutot has posted more than 20 videos and photos and collected more than 800 followers. It has even inspired one of the women featured in a video to address Webcam tears. Rosemary Kirton wrote on her blog:
“My video for webcam tears was incidentally filmed a few days before I discovered the project. I only cried one tear in it; not a lot of bang for your buck there. What does it matter that tears are authentic though? What is so horrifying for tears to be of the crocodilian persuasion--falsely expressing weakness, crying wolf?”
Moutot took some time to discuss the nature of these videos and Nakadate’s art.
Daily Dot: Why do you think people make these sorts of videos in the first place?
Dora Moutot: The people, who submit these videos, are usually active teenagers of the Tumblr community. Tumblr is a world where teenagers/young adults like to “record” themselves and will record themselves singing, dancing. They will take daily pictures of themselves, of their outfits, they will make GIFS of their facial expressions, and if your “Tumblr-famous” enough, other users will reblog it—and it will spread online.
We’re a very narcissistic generation and Tumblr is probably one of the most famous teenage narcissist kingdoms. Social networks push us to “share” everything. This idea of “sharing” is not harmless. This new generation has a very different relationship to privacy. Crying in front of a webcam is just the logical extension of what’s happening on the Web today (which is also an extension of the reality television). I think that mentalities are changing. I love that people are not ashamed of being weak. The Internet has the power of showing the “human condition,” like never before. And I find it very fascinating.
DD: Do you know any of the women in the videos?
DM: I don’t know them IRL (in real life), but I know some girls through Tumblr and Facebook. I follow their blogs and they follow mine. I don’t “know” them, but I know from them what they want to share with the Internet.
DD: What was it about Laurel Nakadate 365 days: a catalogue of tears that inspired you to make the blog a reality?
DM: I went to see her exhibition a year ago in New York, at the MOMA PS1, and I just fell in love with the project. I don’t think that sadness is a well-depicted emotion in the media and art. When artists try to depict sadness it’s never really literal; it’s never “in your face.” It always has to be metaphorical or poetic. I don’t think we should always make sadness look pretty. It’s not! It’s tears, snivel, and red faces. I just loved the simplicity of Laurel Nakadate’s work, the reality of it, the reality of being desperate and sad girl in 2011. Somehow I felt very close to her. I thought that it was very clever of her, to believe that her self-absorbed sadness could interest other people. People are curious and creepy. Which made me think, that with the actual Internet climate, the idea could spread and that it would be interesting to make a collaborative project and to “collect sadness.”
DD: Any last thoughts on the blog and its message?
DM: I hope the project will grow. I’d like to take this take this “Internet substance” and to showcase it out of the Internet, in a gallery or in a festival. I think it would be pretty powerful to have all these videos running at the same time on a huge white wall.