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In the Void of Fire, Let’s Talk

Photos and text printed on papers, 2016


He approached me (her), intended to ask for sex. We (They) talked. He seemed to be an outgoing sporty man. But as we (they) talked, he said that he’s 100% an introvert. He wanted nude pictures from me (her), whom he perceived as plain and innocent. I (she) asked him to give me (her) some time to consider about it. We (They) talked for more than a week. About work, relationships, sex, Chinese philosophy... Until he got more involved and admitted his affection towards me (her). I realized that I must stop. This is a conversation through the online dating application, Tinder.


My profile picture is a girl with long black hair, which was taken more than one year ago. An image of myself that sometimes I would also feel distanced to. I confessed to him about the identity created, how I faked up affection towards him and which parts are true. At first I was curious about subverting a platform that was known to be for superficial relationships into something with more sincerity and depth. Yet, using an identity that was different from the present me was a paradox with the initial goal. In the remaining days of our conversations, it’s always discussions about trust in humanity and rebuilding trust between us. After a few times of failure in inviting him to meetup in physical life, feeling that I might never meet him in real, I decided to visit places which he’d mentioned to me, swimming pool where he works at or would have fun with his tortoise, the park he played in his childhood, and another park where he practiced martial art as well as the district where he visited prostitute.


After around a month since we’ve met on Tinder, he suddenly agreed to meetup. Among the few Tinder men I met in physical life, he’s the person who treated me as a friend the most, and with no further intentions shown. The stories of other people I met on Tinder were interesting but I decided to focus on him here. Online world could be unreal, but the unrepressed and straightforward desires and loneliness could be very true. Many times during the project, I could not distinguish clearly the line between art and my life, as well as my identity. Why couldn’t my image in the past represent me? Why is that with the same thought, a different look still matters, even it’s the same person? Am I doing certain thing to make the artwork more interesting or is it from my personal intention in a friendship or even further relationship? Meanwhile it is undeniable that the project is leading me to an experience. Drifting in an online world where things seem unreal but could be very true, and also drifting in real life where things seem very true yet could be unreal.


In this photography project in 2016, I was given a rule to use Tinder to gather pictures of strangers as a photography project. I used an old picture of mine in which I looked quite different to and developed a rather in-depth conversation to a man to first approached me with sex-text. Later on when I noticed more and more sincerity from him, I felt guilty and decided to reveal the project to him. He was hurt and understanding at first but later on started to get angry with the lie and revealed more dark sides of him. It took me a month for forgiveness and finally met him a as friend. The photography installation could be be divided in 4 parts. All pictures and texts were printed on thin butter papers. The first part is the text of our conversations with some parts hidden. The second part is the first stage of our relationship beginning with message. The third part is after I reveal the project to him and he refused to meet up, that I decided to revisit places that he has mentioned before as a way to know him in reality. The fourth part is when he finally agreed and meet up. 

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