AISHA PEGLEY, the blogger behind Aisha’s Eyes, talks Tinder.
After months of turning my nose up at Tinder, I begrudgingly downloaded it after a close friend of mine needed some ‘light relief’ following a break-up. Sure enough, Tinder provided her with the respite she needed (in all its guises), and I wanted a part of the fun. After a few swipes, I was hooked.
Tinder came during a transitional period of my life: I’d taken a temporary hiatus from university, and wanted something to show for my time off. And so, Aisha’s Eyes was born. It started close to home; I began calling up different friends each day to take their picture, and these encounters, like Tinder, quickly became addictive. Meetings are always casual and editing is minimal: it is the process of the encounter that matters the most and most richly feeds the final image.
I talk to my subjects as I fiddle with the settings on my camera, and try to take the perfect photographic representation of the moment while I’m there, instead of hurrying home to slouch in front of a screen and slave away on Photoshop for hours on end. Aisha’s Eyes is not so much ‘art’, rather a product of my fascination with people and a love of photography.
So how is Tinder involved? As my project grew, the number of interesting looking/willing people in my phonebook sadly dwindled. Tinder, although primarily used by those looking for sex or a drink and sex or pizza and sex or love and sex, offers a unique opportunity. Tinder allows contact between strangers, which both parties autonomously agree to. Besides, not so many people would be so comfortable with the real world equivalent of walking up to somebody on the street. Here the screen is the shield for as long as you want it to be.
So I turned to Tinder to find new subjects. Living in London, we come across a real cross-section of society, and a bunch of those people have really great faces. Although I didn’t have the courage or motive to drop the first bar when I first downloaded the app, with my project in mind I messaged the next person I matched with straightaway, opening with, “Hey! Are you London based? If so, I have a bit of an odd request…” And did the same for the next match. And the next. Apart from one guy who misinterpreted my totally innocent intentions and told me straight up, “I’ve done a few pornos so I’m pretty comfortable in front of the camera,” most – or at least those not put off by my unusual invitation – were painfully modest, but curious and obliging.
I had a great – and strictly PG – time with all of my ‘victims’, as I’ve fondly come to regard those who step in front of my camera. Disregarding the absolutely foul (not sexy, just foul) messages I received from a couple of accidental swipes right, I’ve made some amazing and unexpected connections. Each experience was refreshing, and there is something so ridiculous about meeting someone on Tinder for the sole purpose of taking portraits that I was in a brilliant mood for each one. So, it seemed, were my obliging counterparts – everyone seemed so happy to be selected, even if it was only for a personal blog.
I generally try to distance myself from social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram… Each of these is a narcissist’s heaven, and the modern, technological ego has an insatiable appetite. I make a conscious effort to put my phone away and fully engage with the person in front of me, and I feel good for it (apart from when they don’t extend the same courtesy). From this personal perspective, I feel a satisfaction that I’ve managed to lure my victims out from behind their screens. I’ve forced them to look into my lens and, if only for a few seconds, given them time to be completely still and present.
It may still seem unbelievable that I used this app solely for creative purposes in a world where sex sells, and everything – everything – is sexed up. However, I wanted to reverse the cycle and so I took Tinder, the roots of which have formed the foundations for all sex-oriented apps, and stripped it of its sexuality.
To visits Aisha’s Eyes and see more of Aisha’s photographs click HERE