Can you guess what hes looking at? (Spoiler: porn.)
  • Phillip Toledano/New York Magazine
  • Can you guess what he's looking at? (Spoiler: porn.)

We've all seen someone jump up from the couch and yell at a touchdown. We've all shaken a fist at a video game and accused it of cheating. And it's no wonder that we share these experiences— we spend a lot of time interacting with screens these days. Computer monitors, cell phones, and, of course, Old Uncle Television. Case in point, you're looking at a display device right now.

But the degree to which we physically interact with our devices (and the content they relay) is a rarely discussed topic. I'm not talking about key taps and mouse clicks, trackpad swipes and touchscreen pinches, but our involuntary physical responses to the information gleaned therein.

I'd honestly never given the subject much serious thought: What we look like while using our devices. That is, until recently, when I came across several collections of photographs which document our place in front of the screens we hold dear.

The picture above? That's a guy watching porn. After the jump I've detailed several photo projects that focus on gamers, web surfers, and boob-tube loungers— they all relate a screen's-eye view. Onward, Town of Blog!

People Staring at Computers is a media project by Brooklyn-based artist Kyle McDonald. On workstations at an Apple Store, McDonald installed an application that occasionally tells the webcam to take a shot, and the video below shows photos below show the results: Looks of confusion, boredom, and just about everything in between. (As I was writing this post, both a Tumblr account and Vimeo video documenting the project were pulled offline— methinks someone in these photos didn't like their picture going all over the internet.)

  • Kyle McDonald

Gamers is the 2002 photo project from Phillip Toledano. It features neck-up shots of people playing video games. "I wondered if there was a way to unconsciously tease out aspects of people’s personality," Toledano writes in his artist statement, "So I had them play video games." Below are some of the shrouded personality traits that Toledano teased from his subjects as they thumbed through the levels. (Toledano also shot a variation on the Gamers series, substituting porn for video games. The photos— one of which appears at the beginning of this post— recently surfaced in New York Magazine as the editorial companion to a great piece about contemporary male relationships with porn.)

  • Phillip Toledano

Im not totally convinced that this guy is playing video games.

While it seems kinda quaint next to the previously mentioned bodies of work, Estonian artist Andris Feldmanis' TV Portraits attempts to show the world from the eyes of our televisions. Feldmanis writes in an artist statement: "An average person in Estonia spends about three to four hours a day watching the television. This is the situation reversed, the people portrayed here are posing for their television sets. It is not a critique of mass media and its influence, it is a document of what the TV sees." And here's what those TVs are seeing:

  • Andris Feldmanis

Here's an idea! Maybe we should do a Blogtown version of this. If you're so inclined, upload a webcam shot of your reaction to a Mercury post of your choosing. In the comments, link to both your pic and the story you're reacting to. I don't have any prizes to offer you, but if enough people do this I'll compile the results and post 'em next week. How's that sound?

(h/t, h/t, h/t)