It is not whether you really cry. It’s whether the audience thinks you are crying.
Ingrid Bergman

It’s uncomfortable to witness tears, you are implored to try and stop a person from crying, to console them, to fix them, they’re leaking, they’re broken. Why are you crying? Why are you sad?

If I understand why you’re upset then I can stop you from crying.

If I stop you from crying then I can understand why you’re upset.


The eyes lacriminal system produces tears to keep the eye moist in order to enhance vision, what is it to overproduce many tears at once, why? Crying impairs vision, makes your face hurt etc, what purpose does it serve to cry? I don’t know but I feel relief.

There’s something important about crying- whereby it is a point at which speech is rendered incapable, crying is a communication, an expression, that impedes cohesive language- to the point of tears, collapse into tears.

Tears are the silent language of grief.


Tears at times have the weight of speech.

-found poetry on brainyquote

So how do you feel about a project like webcam tears by Dora Moutot? It’s an archive of tears shed before webcams, with little to no other information provided. Contextless tears from webcam owners.

It was inspired by Laurel Nakadate’s work. Expressions of feeling to a webcam, with the desired purpose of others viewing, is this repugnant, indulgent and insincere? It’s intolerable, crying, it’s an expression of vulnerability- it’s hard to speak, it causes discomfort to witness it, on the brink of tears-the break down of cohesive language to tears is a failure to communicate? Crying is seen as an involuntary anti-participation in constructive communication, in functional living, hysteria is not en vogue, ok?

There is something wrong about the man who wants help. There is somewhere a deep defect, a want, in brief, a need, a crying need, somewhere about that man.
Herman Melville

I’m not gonna beat about the bush, excuse the pun, but crying is distinctly associated with feminine expression in visual culture. That’s a sweeping statement I guess, go on tell me I’m wrong, I’ll cry and you’ve won. haha

“False in legs, and false in thighs; / False in breast, teeth, hair, and eyes.”

Robert Herrick “Upon Some Women” as quoted in Antichrist 2009

To orchestrate crying for the purpose of recording seems problematic- tears are something relatively impromptu… But then again, one probably cries in ones room, where you keep your computer, you’re probably crying scrolling through your facebook feed, while you tweet, whatever.

My video for webcam tears was incidentally filmed a few days before I discovered the project.

I only cried one tear in it, not a lot of bang for your buck there.

What does it matter that tears are authentic though? What is so horrifying for tears to be of the crocodilian persuasion- falsely expressing weakness, crying wolf? What proof is there, what way is there to identify tears that connote true suffering and those that are not. Are tears an expression, a codified system for expression where authenticity even has a place? And why is it so important for sadness to always be remedied.

She: A crying woman is a scheming woman- Antichrist 2009 

I wanted to talk about 33Summer, in the same way I’ve mentioned Molly Soda, Deadniggastorage and Arvida Bystrom etc, they are all tumblr personalities who express and confess material that is very personal but do not assign their expressions to any system of authenticity or consistency- they evade their followings irrational inappropiate desire to coax familiarity, authenticity or truth from them- its also quite obvious that this behaviour has something to do with their masses of followers too.
33Summer may differ in the way that her level of confession, exceeds, overwhelms, overflows, you read more than you want to, TMI, TL;DR etc- there’s not any irony, very little play involved. It’s almost intolerable to read the hasty typo-riven exchanges between her and anonymous interrogators, sometimes she blows off their accusations that she’s a slut, that she deserved to be raped etc, other times short sharp concessions to their onslaughts.
Jacques Rancière provides an anecdotal example of confessing trauma in the chapter ‘The Intolerable Image’ from The Emancipated Spectator,’ the description is of an exchange between a traumatised hairdresser and the director of the documentary, as the subject is filmed recollecting trauma.

'The tears in the hairdresser's eyes are the sign of his emotion. But this emotion is itself produced by the film maker's system and, once he films those tears and links this shot to other shots, they can no longer be regarded as the naked presence of the recollected event. They belong to a process of figuration that is a process of condensation and displacement.' 94

So what of recording your own emotional tribulations? Or reliving them through micro-blogging, well in the case of 33Summer, it invites misogynistic attacks on a daily basis. Like for webcamtears and done so much prior with Laural Nakadate and many more before- these tears are curated or created to be seen. What does it means to intentionally express suffering for a viewing public, particularly the kind of people who would have a tumblr/webcam, affluent expressive people.

I remember one day sitting at the pool and suddenly the tears were streaming down my cheeks. Why was I so unhappy? I had success. I had security. But it wasn’t enough. I was exploding inside.
Ingrid Bergman

So you’ve got it good? You have webcam access, you have the time to make videos of yourself crying for Dora’s project and the gall to make yourself part of this wailing wall? So why are you crying? Always why, always with crying there’s a need to quell it, silence it, end the hysteria/chaos, ugh.

It occured to me that an artwork I’d seen a while ago that stuck with me still is relevant to this, by artist  Phil Collins called Return of the Real that I saw in 2006. Collins orchestrated a documentary where a company he set up got former reality tv participants who had their lives ruined by their experience with reality tv to be interviewed -to coax out of them and relive those traumas for the camera again, part of this work this was presented in a gallery format where the video of the interviewer and interviewee were projected on opposite ends of a dark room very large, an intense way to view such an exchange. 

See the reception of Leave Britney Alone by Chris Crocker for examples of how drawn towards, yet riled against, viewing masses are to unbridled emotion- particularly of significance is that Chris Crocker portrays femme qualities, whether his lack of hetero-normativity contributed to the notoriety this video is unclear but it’s what most of the comments of the video discuss.

A crying person makes us question their gender, sexuality, their constitution.

How many jokes, or cringe-inducing moments in movies are there when post coitally, either one or both partners cry? He/she didn’t cry after did they? CRIIIIIIINGE… Crying isn’t sexy is it? There’s something in common between almost all the subjects I’ve mentioned so far in this essay, not all but most, that they have released/leaked nude images of themselves-Paris Hilton has her sex-tape, Nakadate is frequently nude in her work, Molly Soda has nudes you can search out with ease, DeadNiggaStorage intermittently bares his ass for kicks, Arvida has nudity as part of her practice in self portraiture, 33summer discusses her sexual assault graphically etc. 

There’s something oxymoronic about this image and there also isn’t.

Unbridled sexual and emotional confession is linked to denigration of character, see Sasha Grey’s primary school reading fiasco- a sex industry worker is not fit to educate children. See Zizek’s bizarre anti tulip rant- where he says children shouldn’t have access to tulips for the sexual veracity of the flowers will insense them cos they look like vaginas duh and we all know vaginas are detrimental to a child’s education.

Learning and education, academia even- is not the place for sexual expression it seems- it is excluded, expelled, unprofessional.

Unbridled sexual and emotional expression are also something connoted with teenage behaviour- attributed to wild hormones- dismissed for that reason. Emotional and sexual excess are attributed to teenagers- idols of excess, excess as rite of passage-teenage rebellion. Emotional and sexual excess are relegated to hormones and teenager-dom or hormonal women, it doesn’t sit right.

Sophie Convey’s zine cam girls- where girls modelled their own clothes/posed for their webcam in their own styles was a perfect play on words that fits in with this idea of false sexual advertising online. 'Cam girls' is a zine of self expression in this limited webcam format- but to an outsider it may instantly make one think of something seedy, maybe ‘cam-whoring’ a cute term obviously, for anyone who seeks attention through some indeterminate yet excessive presence on camera- most likely through titillation as whoring suggests.

There’s something about adverts like this, where you’re meant to be fooled into an instant chat in your periphery, where your dream girl is reaching out to you thorugh a familiar social networking IM, with a seductive default image, imploring you to validate her with response. Sonya is no ghost, just a shell. Sonya fooled you into clicking this pop-up with her flagrantly inauthentic attempt to communicate, damn that Sonya.

Sonya why can’t I quit you? ;__;

'She: “False in legs, and false in thighs; / False in breast, teeth, hair, and eyes.” ' Antichrist 2009

What happens when you falsely express oneself sexually or emotionally, crocodile tears, cry wolf, cry rape online? You discredit yourself.
You’re making monuments with your social networking profiles, you’re creating data with the minutiae you communicate, of thoughts and utterances about your everyday life that would be otherwise unexpressed and dormant without these portals- tumblr/twitter/facebook yada/yada/yada.
How much of this is emotional and sexual, how authentically do you express, do you repress your emotional and sexual expressions which are naturally part of your constitution? What is more inauthentic- including your emotional sexual thoughts along with others, or never pertaining to your sexuality and emotions online to avoid conflict/embarassment, do you keep it professional?

Did you start out branding yourself as a teen online, did you have a myspace, a livejournal, did you cringe at yourself when facebook timelines were introduced? Putting up emotional pleas, meaningful lyrics, videos of yourself dancing in your underwear, vlogging about inane stuff, crying even, on any of these platforms? How do you build on this? Do you try and sweep it under the rug as you ‘grow up’, do you destroy your former avatars, or do you build upon them, subsume and own them? Did someone leak your n00dz, or did you do it? Did you become a suicide girl so you could leak ur n00dz first?

The conflict between personal and professional online presence isn’t a fresh subject. Public figures are always fumbling tweets and putting up statuses that they shouldn’t, have their email hacked and their durrdy affairs leaked and we’re doing it to each other, spiteful post break-up stalking or hacking of our nearest and dearest- ‘fraping’ etc.

What is to come of this, what’s the point of crying over crying over spilt milk? I suppose I want to draw some obvious conclusions: shit son, we’re quite emotionally and sexually repressed in our everyday lives and when it comes to stuff online things are kinda different but also not…

And shit son, we’re quite sexually and emotionally repressed in our professional and academic lives too so makes sense that when we have fun online we might partake in seemingly dubious sexual and emotional expression. Which funnily enough, as our professional and academic lives become inextricably linked with our online presences, is going to present problematics that might shift the way people continue to express themselves- and I guess I also wanna add in that, the yoof, particularly teens on the tumblr which is my usual subject, are experimenting with this and resisting this by creating these avatars that discomfort us with their tears, their sexual discovery and inconsistency.

It seems silly to draw mainly from tumblr as a resource but check how endlessly this lot toil in the tumblr mines to extract pseudo-teen ore for their own ends. Tumblr trends and behaviour exceed their context, which brings another sense of validity to thinking about this stuff but also this weird sense of critical mass:

So what’s beyond all this excess though? If it could be seen as at critical mass. Maybe it’s something for the next diatribe, which will express more about resisting that excessive expression and some of the other problematics involved with this subject, perhaps the hang over from perma-teen excess is happening somewhere… the sobering up and growing up of tumblr teen excess. And if it exists as a single topic body of work tumblr, it might look a little something like Fran Malthouse’s work. Check it out and thanks for reading.

aww look it’s the sunrise the morning after the tumblr hangover <3

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