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Gabrielle Jordan Stein
ballston lake, NY



ARTIST STATEMENT: Looking for a Partner Analyzing the social experiment website Chatroulette, I have explored the degradation of face-to-face communication caused by social media websites and ‘communication’ technology. The 21st century’s inundation with technology, social media websites and smart phones has enabled us to remain in contact at all times. This ability to always be in touch has turned ‘alone time’ into a foreign concept. Websites like Chatroulette feed on modern man’s fear, to never feel alone. Chatroulette was created in 2009 as a social experiment. The website is a simple interface consisting of a live video feed from your partner, and one from your own webcam. With the click of a button you are randomly transported face to face with a stranger. Within Chatroulette, there is only opportunity for forward motion. This is one of the many characteristics of Chatroulette that differentiates it from other social networking websites. This perpetual forward motion dissolves the concept of ‘past’, making Chatroulette a synchronic experience. Chatroulette provides no option or opportunity to maintain contact or return to someone with whom you were previously interacting. The past becomes irrelevant, as it is entirely inaccessible. Along with operating with out ‘the past’, Chatroulette also works on a completely anonymous level. There are no requirements to enter personal information before using the website. The lack of social and past history is one of the main components mediating Chatroulette that hinder lasting, meaningful connections. Using the platform of Chatroulette as my medium, I have created a series of screen shot portraits. With each partner I work to try to overturn the constraints of this anti-social, social media website by attempting to develop a personal connection with my partner. I began to photograph my partner by taking screen shots. In many cases I would ask the model to change the lighting, or move the frame or within the frame to help make the portrait that I was envisioning. These images are part of my search for understanding other people’s unavoidable and contradicting loneliness. In a society where we are never really alone or out of contact, people still remain searching for companionship.
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