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Date night with a real boy
Photography Cary Fagan

Documenting date night with a ‘real’ boy

This photographer is bridging the disconnect between our social media selves and real life

Social media is a gateway to a whole other world of interactions, emotions and experiences. It’s a platform to create and fine-tune a new you, in line with your desired “online aesthetic”, according to Houston-based photographer Cary Fagan. His project, Real, picks apart our online personalities and the intimate – or not-so-intimate – relationships that spring up from late nights on the Internet.

“A picture tells a thousand words, and we are starting to rely on them to tell us all we need know about a person,” explains Fagan. “Now people have 140 characters a time to talk about their passions and their mishaps.”

In a series of images that capture a woman and her lover/mannequin in more and more intimate settings, Fagan examines love online, and how empty it can be. He observes: “These photos showcase the underlying sense of suffocation and lack of intimacy between the female and male characters. In retrospect, this is about being in love with someone who no longer loves you back all the while attempting to appear as if everything is okay.”

It recalls films such as Lars and the Real Girl (2007) and Mannequin (1987), as well as Tyler, The Creator’s ‘IFHY’ music video, but the concept is made his own with the female perspective.

The woman, unlike her stoic partner, is active in holding their relationship together: balancing his plastic hand on her breast, grasping for intimacy as she places him in sexual positions. Her failing efforts to hold a bond that’s no longer there is reminiscent of the imessage three-dot anxiety or Instagram couples-envy so many of us suffer. Can a mannequin ghost you?

Real reminds us of the opportunity that technology affords us to find love and sex, but it’s clear that follower count and whether you use the Valencia or Gingham Insta-filters shouldn’t be misconstrued for human instinct.

Check out more of Cary Fagan's work here and here