40 Portraits of Chatroulette users, 2011
By Jehn Howard
Arguably the most fascinating Internet meme of 2010, Chatroulette has created an immaterial space for a multitude of personal interactions. The real-time video-chat experience is controlled by random algorithms and superficial judgements. This has opened the doors for unprecedented private relationships at an incredibly schizophrenic speed - thus transforming the virtuality of chatbot culture into a sobering real image of another human being. Emerging from the shadows of a bedroom and the dark corners of cyberspace, we find an intimacy unfamiliar to what was once considered an anti-social technology. Digitally-illuminated faces often imply bodies suggestively lying under bed sheets. Some chatrouletters hide in embarassment or guilt, while others eagerly await in direct sight of the webcam. Progressing through strangers on screen, we are left questioning the personal experience versus the fleeting moment.