Photos: Kat Slootsky
Text: Alec Coiro
Glasser is the stage name of musician, performer, and artist Cameron Mesirow, whose show Charge at The Kitchen on October 23rd and 24th will explore “synthetic intimacy.” Cameron coined the term “synthetic intimacy” to describe the experience of what we might call deep Youtube viewing or subscription-level immersion. She adds that “The name Charge is about the taboo naughtiness of being a voyeur.” Literally the charge that you get from going deep into a Youtuber’s life.
The inspiration for the show came from Cameron’s own experience with Youtube. “I was watching these how-to videos as a total voyeur. I always want to see more of the person’s house.” The experience of intimacy was the same regardless of the type of video; she was watching everything from “People playing covers in their living rooms to ASMR videos.” Cameron notes that ASMR videos “are not a sex videos, but they are a little fetishy.” The videos are meant to give you physical chills through pure aural stimulus. Obviously such a sound-based experience would be interesting to a musician, but for Charge, Cameron explores the broader question of what it means to watch a woman in close-up tapping on a bottle for half an hour. “My real fascination is the intimacy that you get with these people, the window that you get into their very close personal space. You can really feel like you know them, which I think is part of the fun for them, too: Fame but in a less harsh way.” Indeed, this is a new, and never before seen kind of intimacy that we as a culture have yet to discuss.
Cameron has always been attuned to the new. In 2007, she recorded her first album as Glasser using her Macbook and the Garageband software that it came with. At the time, there was a notion that only a proper band could make proper music, and Cameron took that notion and simply swept it aside. “All the first music that I made was on Garage Band. At first I felt like it wasn’t legit because it wasn’t a band. But I’m always a champion of the underdog and a contrarian, so I decided to glorify the illigiteness, so I made all the songs on my first record using Garage Band. And then I made my second record totally different from that, but that’s been the motto of the whole project: Why Not? Why do a guitar and bass and drums mean you get to make a record that people take seriously? Why can’t it just be anything at all? If I say it’s music then it’s fucking music.”
So how does all of this translate to the stage for Charge? The show will center around Glasser’s music combined with a video that Cameron is creating in collaboration with Jonathan Turner. “It’s going to involve a lot of video footage of me and some of my less flattering sides, some real personal-space type shots.” To accompany these videos, she has composed music comprised of things like rhythms created from the Youtube gallery of fetish noises, like the sound of twelve pairs of pantyhose rubbing together. “I also have a bunch of new Glasser songs, which are in some ways about these ideas. I have a few songs about falling in love with a Youtube person.” The whole affair will be mounted on sets built by Josephine Shokrian. “The stage is going to be my personal space, so it will have fantasy furniture in it. Josephine is building furniture for my fantasy.”
Cameron’s initial description of the show is that it’s “about some of her Youtube habits,” which might seem trivial at first. But in truth this subject matter is in keeping with her unique intuition into what contemporary culture is actually composed of. While the rest of us see youtube as a slightly shameful diversion, Glasser intervenes and accepts that “The world of youtube is so vast and such an interesting glimpse into humanity.” With Charge, she invites us to visit humanity at its new online address.