By logging into an online chatroom, Julien Mignot discovers a digital world occupied by a spectrum of sexual identities and uninhibited displays of desire
Can you tell us more about the themes of exhibitionism and voyeurism in your latest project Screen Love?
Photography is all about voyeurism, but it’s also a documentary medium – it has to describe the world we live in. Screen Love is an attempt to capture this era of technological progress, which is advancing at a faster rate than humanity can cope with. The project responds to the modern incarnation of the voyeuristic gaze and the desire to exhibit one's body. The website I decided to focus on in my research is free for anyone to watch, although there is a system in place to validate that users are over eighteen. It was a very diverse platform comprised of people from all different ethnicities and age ranges. There was dirty talk, hair fetishists, bondage, erotic games, solo players, gonzo players, cute girls, dirty old men – the list goes on. It was the perfect display of uninhibited desire.
Can you elaborate the first part of the Screen Love trilogy, Wait For Me?
Wait For Me denotes the first glimpse you get when you open a new chat window. The blurred imagery mirrors this fleeting glance. Pocket Landscape is the second installment in this series and focuses on the personal lives of some of the broadcasters. The last part doesn’t have a name yet. I’m going to develop Screen Love over the course of a residency in Venice in May 2019 with musician Rodolphe Burger. It will be a performance encompassing live video of various people I’ve met on the Live Cam platform.
Your photographs have a gentle, warm aesthetic. What was it that inspired this choice?
The world of webcams is rather sordid if you look at it with too much distance, Positioning the camera closer to the screen allows for subjectivity. The focus blur creates softness which affords an emotional, sentimental gaze. The use of charcoal prints then introduces a chaotic dimension. Even though the webcam world is in many ways removed, instantaneous, cold and numerical, it’s ultimately still about life and emotions. Blood, skin, flesh, flux: Screen Love attempts to reflect the intimacy of these platforms which allow people thousands of miles apart to communicate.