Each party was documented extensively using digital cameras. Everybody at the
party took pictures of the party—either of other people, or more commonly, of themselves with other people, using
a method in which one extends one's arms out at an upward angle, holding the
camera at a backwards orientation towards themselves while taking a picture.
These photos were often crooked, blurry, and cropped in a arbitrary fashion—formalisms out of which a new aesthetic grew, namely, the ad hoc amateur free
spirited party photo. People had a tendency to make strange facial expressions
during the taking of these photos to suggest a blend of casualness and
frivolity, which is only possible when one is having an exceptionally good
As a rule, people turned their flashes off, for the flashes made people's
complexions look pale and ghastly, not to mention burned rods in people's
retinas. The inadequate lighting made people look mysterious and more
attractive, so the non-flash protocol was quickly embraced. Tongues began
appearing in more and more photos near the end of the parties: first, a tease
on the lip; then, an open mouth tongue display (facial-code for a wonderful
time); and finally, the licking of faces in either an erotic or non-erotic way.
Due to the amount of food coloring in certain cocktails, many tongues were of
The following mornings after these parties, people would upload the photos of
the party into their computers. The ratio of hours of duration and number of
photos was about 1 : 200, such that a party containing 40 people lasting 3.5
hours would incur 28,000 photos. These 28,000 photos, while authored by
different people and taken at different angles and times, were not particularly
distinct from one another, for they all shared a peculiar motif: 3 - 4 sweaty
people making strange facial expressions while 'air groping'—a tactic in which one makes lewd groping gestures without any clear recipient.
Of these 28,000 photos 25,000 were chosen to be the most evocative and posted
onto social networking sites featuring publicly accessible albums.
The option to comment on these photos were eagerly employed, so each of the 40
party participants (who were all online at once) began the next phase: the
legitimization of their own experience by commenting positively on its
documentation. Common comments were "that rocked," "you were so wasted," and
"ha." As everyone was online at once, people often instant messaged one another
about the posting and commenting of these 25,000 photos. The original
experience by then had been forgotten. Everyone lived for tomorrow, and each
day had one. The legitimization of experience by affirmative comments took two
hours, after which each person suddenly felt extremely tired and logged off.
After removing laptops from their laps, they felt with their hands how hot
their laps had been made, and felt warm.
photo by Kate Kraujalis