Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

‘You Were Born Here; You Bought This; You Made This; You Posted These’

Miranda July — who you may know as the creator the We Think Alone series — and Paul Ford — the amazing technology journalist responsible for What is Code? — teamed up for this year’s Seven on Seven conference. Whitney Mallett of Vice was there:

The last team to take the stage at this year’s iteration, July and Ford began telling a story with an incantatory second-person refrain. You were born here. You bought this. You made this. You posted these — all with corresponding cell phone photos, videos and screenshots projected behind them.

Mostly, though, the content was spoken. “Congratulations on learning Debussy’s Clair de Lune,” July intoned, her voice at once steady and melodic. “I think we can all agree with your mother when she says, ‘Makes me want to move the piano out in the field so you can play by the light.’”

When a crappy cellphone video of a waitress singing happy birthday played, I realized these were not fictional characters but real people. Slowly, it dawned on us who “you” was.

I found this an extraordinarily powerful meditation on what we choose to share. Our guard is slowly but certainly coming down, and we’re more comfortable than ever sharing intimate details and moments. This performance is haunting, concerning, invasive, and poetic, all at the same time.