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With 40% of 16-24 year olds agreeing that sending nude photos, or ‘nudes’, is ‘the new normal’, the practice of snapping a saucy photo of your bits and sending it isn’t exactly uncommon. Lots of us have done it, and most of us girls have received one – wanted or otherwise. Athena Stevens’s new piece, Late Night Staring at High Res Pixels, takes a look at the politics and power play of sending and receiving nude photos.
When 1 (Evelyn Lockley) sends her new fella an explicit picture of herself, and he shows it to his long-time female friend A (Athena Stevens), both women begin to examine their relationship with a man they care about, and his reaction to the photo.
As the story progresses, both women delve further into the implications the picture has had on their lives. It becomes quite clear that 1 is in an emotionally neglectful, if not abusive relationship, as she vows to “not bring up problems” so as not to upset her much older partner. The more she discusses this unseen man, the more the subtleties in his behaviour reveal themselves to be controlling and manipulative, intentional or not.
Meanwhile, A’s dilemma is a situation I think more of us must have been in than we care to admit – How do we tell our friends that showing off a private image is a disgusting breach of trust? How do we reprimand this behaviour and address not only our friend, but the knowledge that someone we consider our friend might not be the type of person we thought they were? To acknowledge that even the ‘Nice Guy’ can engage in such behaviour can be a depressing pill to swallow.
With pieces uploaded every day of February, Late Night Staring at High Res Pixels builds over the month to the full piece. No two shots are the same, presumably due Designer Anna Reid, as the actors and camera are placed all over the house. Some are more effective than others, and occasionally affect sound and picture quality, but the variety is appreciated.
Some of the piece’s episodes do little to advance the plot, especially those around the middle, but the story comes to life towards the end. Late Night Staring at High Res Pixels explores a tricky grey area, but from the perspective of the women, in which the man in question hasn’t done anything wrong legally, but is behaving in a repugnant way. However, the man’s voice is completely eradicated, and the piece is better for it; it simply isn’t about him, his point of view or what he has to say. For once, it’s about the women that have been hurt.
Late Night Staring at High Res Pixels is streaming on the Finborough Theatre website until 1 April. For more information and tickets, visit the Finborough Theatre’s website.