liminal connections (2019/2020)
Liminal Connection is a video installation that examines how intimate connections and sexual encounters within the world of ‘private camming’ affect the digital and corporeal space connected to them, and what relationships are formed within these spaces. In Liminal Connection a comparison is drawn between the physical webcam spaces and the concept of liminality. The video shows different webcam studios whilst in audio we hear pieces of interview with different webcam performers. The images show multiple webcam rooms, spaces created for the online. They are neither real nor unreal. They act as a synonym for the relationships created within this in-between space.
The video and interviews are recorded in Romanian webcam studios. The intimate connections the performers talk about, arise from the possibility of communicating through the internet, a world that is separate from the "physical" world. This could be explained by seeing the digital world as one that is liminal. A space that is disconnected from one's place, where different rules and symbolic interaction apply.
“The internet provides this space, previously unavailable, where a person can type without doing, or do without being.” (Ross, 2005).
One reason for the popularity of webcamming could be that it is becoming increasingly difficult to connect with someone in the corporeal world, seeing how so much of our social exchanges happen online. The demand for webcamming is part of this need for contact; it offers an online "girlfriend" experience. It creates a new form of intimacy. It is not a traditional sex work, not a relationship, but something in between. (Zelizer, 2005) One of the most important and demanding aspects of camming, is creating a personal connection between the performer and the client. Seeing webcam performers as emotional and affective workers affords the possibility to move away from the stigmatisation of sex work and opens up the discussion on the definition of sex work, giving credence to the experiences and agency to the workers involved, while remaining wary of issues concerning potential exploitation and negative aspects of the work. The work questions how mediated forms of bodily representation shape us and our understanding of sexuality, intimacy and connection.
Thanks to all the amazing people who participated in this project.
A special thanks to Huibert van Wijk for collaborating with me.