This essay originally appeared in the Privacy & Perception Issue of Vice Magazine, created in collaboration with Broadly. You can read more stories from the issue here.
When Res and their partner are apart, the two spend a lot of time on their cellphones. One night, when Res was away, they fell asleep in the middle of a text exchange. They woke up hours later, half asleep, and their hands went searching for their phone, which was in the bed beside them. Their hands moved toward it, they later recalled, like “your hands would move toward a lover’s body in the night.” They began to think, What am I doing? What has this object become to me? Res wondered what would happen if they treated a screen as a “body”—not as an extension of themself but rather as an item in and of itself. What, ultimately, would looking closely at them—things we stare at, and things that stare at us all day—“reveal,” they say, “about intimacy, identity, desire, and sex”?
A few months ago, between Res’s two homes of New York and Sweden, they set out to explore the answers to these questions. In their new photography series, which Res plans to eventually turn into a book, they light phones in such a way to highlight their physicality—what it looks like to hold this technology—and use the screen to present an intimate space, usually a portrait. One photo, for example, features a hand grasping an iPhone, which is displaying a naked woman seductively lying down; a text message from “work” covers up her head.
“We have always found our longing in photographs,” Res says, “but we never went looking for photographs with our hands in the night.”