‘The camera lens was our way of disengaging from each other, distancing ourselves from each other’s emotions.’ At the moment, we are using the camera lens in our computer or mobile phone to distance ourselves physically from colleagues, friends and relatives in order to hinder the spread of coronavirus. However, the camera lens also allows us to disengage emotionally from one another as JG Ballard wrote thirty years ago in his novel called ‘The Kindness of Women‘ from which the opening sentence is taken. It is relatively easy to avoid giving emotional cues to your interlocutor when they can only see a flat image of your face. I am unsure whether JG Ballard would have anticipated our virus-induced socially-distanced world but he would certainly have recognised the rather flat discussions that we tend to have in our internet meetings.
Source: JG Ballard, The Kindness of Women, London: Fourth Estate, 2014 (first published 1991).
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