A series of self portraits created in Zoom.
My presence is fractured. I enter a Zoom room, but I am also walking away from my desk and into the kitchen to fill a glass with water. There are two me’s. My internet dies and when I log back in to the meeting my frozen image is still there. I join her.
I am a head and shoulders, a bust occupying a grid of busts; our bedrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms suddenly communal spaces. I wonder about this new intimacy. I lose focus trying to discern the dark corners of a professor’s study. Shadows building a narrative I don’t have the context to interpret. I am distinctly aware of the fact I move my eyes up and to the left while I am trying to think. It looks rude. I do it anyways, impulsively, and then self awarely, imitating thought while I try to articulate myself to a crowd of faces much closer to me than I would normally feel comfortable with.
I see my face mirrored back to me, a slight lag between the words coming out of my lips and the movement of my lips on the screen. I have become digital. My bed is unmade, so I lean close to my computer to hide it. I am still in a nightgown. I smell awful in a way I’ve never experienced before this. But no one knows, because I am pixels and light.
I keep finding the need for more space. This intimacy is exhausting. Every gesture I make feels loaded with indecency. Facing a screen full of faces for hours a day feels revealing in a way being in the world doesn’t. Every gesture I make feels loaded with indecency. I stand to adjust my seat and suddenly my lap floods the communal screen. I want to turn my camera off, but worry that will be mistaken as disengaging. I’m just tired of seeing my own face.
My therapist tells me to make space for myself. How can I hide and still be here? My body slips away from me, cold toes brushing my leg pulling me back. I cup them in my hands, little fleshy icicles, and laugh. I clean my desk and make my bed. I can hear my phone ringing downstairs.
Stifling and expansive, my room is my world. Where I study I also cry and sweat and sleep. This space feels more intimately mine than ever before. I wonder how it would feel to have someone step inside of it. Would they understand the multitudes it holds? A palimpsest of days and empty bowls that once held cereal.
I call my mom in Boston. She is outside our house, pixelated in the wind. She walks inside and her face becomes clear. Brilliant blue eyes peer out behind the glare on her glasses. I can see the pores of her skin, the creases around her mouth. Our faces are so close they could touch. I think about how soft she is, and her smell. She has to go and I am alone. I call my friend who lives two blocks away. The connection is bad, her face tangled. “Do you want to go for a walk?” I ask. She is frozen. It’s impossible to make sense of what she’s saying, the gaps between words are oceans.
The sun streams through the redwood tree outside my window in the late afternoon. Light bounces off my computer leaving a bright patch on the wall. I squint, trying to see through the gritty fingerprints reflecting at me. The wind blows, stirring papers on my floor and causing me to shiver. “Can you hear that?” I ask. “The sirens?” someone says. “No”. The wind is whipping, I close my eyes. A siren blares in my headphones. “Oh, I hear it”.
These nine images are a collection of self-portraits created entirely in Zoom. As days layer on themselves, and edges of time blur into pools of light, I have been layering myself on myself, exploring the unknown aesthetic ability of a platform we suddenly rely so heavily upon. Alone on Zoom, I have been exploring new ways of capturing my image and understanding the many dimensions of my space, both physical and virtual.