Crying Into a Webcam Is a ‘New Form of Pornography,’ Artist Claims

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In a time where showing genitals on the internet is not shocking anymore, tears are a new form of pornography.” That’s the thesis behind Webcam Tears, a Tumblr by artist Dora Moutot that collects videos of people — mostly women — weeping on camera.

When the Paris-based Moutot talks about pornography, she’s not just claiming that seeing a stranger cry can be startling — although that’s certainly part of it. She truly means that crying turns people on. Moutot described viewers’ varied reactions to her lachrymal art project in an interview with the Daily Mail:

Some people think it’s pathetic because they don’t understand the point and see it as pure voyeurism.  Some are sexually aroused by tears. Others feel a lot of empathy, some feel very uncomfortable in this sea of sadness, they are too embarrassed to watch while others are fascinated. But in general, people show interest and curiosity.”

Moutot’s “emotional porn” with a side of voyeurism is, in a way, the latest mutation of our ever-growing, ever-evolving selfie culture. It was inspired by Laurel Nakadate, an artist who photographed her tears daily for an entire year. Nakadate’s Only the Lonely, which arrived in 2011, was her way of responding to the rise of photo as diary, especially “happy self-portraits people make day after day with their cell phone cameras and post on Facebook.”

But while Nakadate may have been responding to the unreality of projecting constant happiness through our Facebook accounts — a lot of people “practice sadness every day,” after all — Moutot has transformed it back into a different form of unreality.

Even unscripted, voyeuristic porn, showing the subjects in their private moments, is filtered through a camera — a point of which Moutot is well aware.

Computers became the witness/spectators of our lives,” she writes. “We eat in front of them and we fall asleep next to them. We talk through them, we dance, we laugh and we masturbate in front of them. But we also cry in front of them.”

We do, and then we submit those tears to Tumblr. Is participating in Webcam Tears another version of the daily performance we put on for our Facebook friends, or more like Nakadate’s intentional and measured resistance to it?

You can decide for yourself. Moutot is still taking submissions — she’s received more than 70 thus far.