incidental proximity, manufactured intimacy

         For this project my intention was to investigate the interactions between strangers that have become common place in the age of the internet.  I was specifically interested in finding the limits of intimacy that people come up against in different modes of interaction.  For me airdrop is an interesting contrast to the types of interactions that exist on a lot of social media sites.  I’ve had a few experiences of people airdropping photos to me by accident, or vice versa, which creates the strange situation of complete strangers sharing nothing but a physical space and a single image.  In contrast to tinder or similar sites where you may never actually see someone in person but have lots of information about them as an individual, this strange interaction that arises from the network of iPhones that’s always around me gives me and someone I might make eye contact with on the bus or sit next to in a coffee shop a single point of contact.  In creating a photo album out of those nuggets of information about people (and the multitudes of nuggets that were withheld by suspicious strangers) I wanted to fabricate intimacy, which no one looking at the product would really believe.  I wanted to construct a narrative of connection to parallel the fabricated social networks that exist in other parts of the internet.  Believing that you know someone because you have access to their Facebook page, feeling a connection because you matched with someone on Tinder.  Those things may be legitimate but they’re also very strange and that intimacy has never been believable to me.  In some ways the odd honesty of a single, slightly random, moment from a person nearby can feel a little more real to me, like a window into a parallel existence, moving along next to my own, for whatever brief period of time, but not matching it.  Each photo in my album represents an interaction, captured in a single moment, just not necessarily one that belongs to me.  The captions accompanying are ones I made up, to tie each person together, to connect them to myself, to create that false sense of intimacy that the internet so willingly provides.  Names and references are recycled to create the beginnings of a narrative surrounding people who have never met.  Everything is based loosely in Pittsburgh, the origin of our contact.  But the fake network of connection is brought to a level beyond the usual in a parody of proximity.  Making more from less in what’s no longer just naïve but into the realm of off putting, maybe creepy.  A desperate grab for connection.

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