webAffairs (2005)

The book webAffairs is a four years long documentation of a webcam community where people come to have virtual sex. The artist, Show-n-tell, tells her story of being a voyeur and eventually becoming part of this community through a series of images and actual chat text. Initially shy, she asks men to show her their rooms. She finds naked men by their computers in their office spaces, living rooms and bedrooms. She collects images of their naked bodies juxtaposed with their surrounding computer equipment.

Eventually she becomes a regular within the community and makes friends. People share their personal crises with her. The main narrative, however, is told through Show-n-tell’s voice. She participates in the community both as an observer and a performer. After a while she has her own virtual sex show but as a married woman she too negotiates the limits of her explorations within virtual space with her real-life partner.

The electronic images gathered in chat rooms are transformed as photographic stills in the book. Because of the limits of the technology the image disintegrates into pixels which speak to a new sensibility in image making. The text also takes on an electronic accent. The members of virtual communities have transformed the English language by using acronyms that are incomprehensible to the outsider and yet are understood even by non-English speakers.

This artist’s book is a documentation of Show-n-tell’s navigation through erotic virtual space. But like most documentaries, the material has been electronically edited and graphically redesigned to dramatically communicate her story.

keywords: body, community, cuSeeMe, documentary, gender, surveillance, cybersex

Full Description

The book webAffairs is a four years long documentation of a webcam community where people come to have virtual sex. The artist, Show-n-tell, tells her story of being a voyeur and eventually becoming part of this community through a series of images and actual chat text. Initially shy, she asks men to show her their rooms. She finds naked men by their computers in their office spaces, living rooms and bedrooms. She collects images of their naked bodies juxtaposed with their surrounding computer equipment.

Eventually she becomes a regular within the community and makes friends. People share their personal crises with her. The main narrative, however, is told through Show-n-tell’s voice. She participates in the community both as an observer and a performer. After a while she has her own virtual sex show but as a married woman she too negotiates the limits of her explorations within virtual space with her real-life partner.

The electronic images gathered in chat rooms are transformed as photographic stills in the book. Because of the limits of the technology the image disintegrates into pixels which speak to a new sensibility in image making. The text also takes on an electronic accent. The members of virtual communities have transformed the English language by using acronyms that are incomprehensible to the outsider and yet are understood even by non-English speakers.

This artist’s book is a documentation of Show-n-tell’s navigation through erotic virtual space. But like most documentaries, the material has been electronically edited and graphically redesigned to dramatically communicate her story.

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