At first, it seems she's alone. Indeed, we rarely see anyone else — at least in the flesh. She lives alone in a small Manhattan studio. There is basically no dialogue as she doesn't seem to interact with anyone at all.
And yet she is always interacting. We may not see her interlocutors, they may not be present as flesh, but that doesn't make them any less real.
This is a network life. In her solitude, she remains connected — however ethereally, however precariously — to the world around her. Only the world around her is more often than not a telepresence.
What we witness is a different way of going in the world, a different kind of identity, a different kind of social contract. As the title of the film suggests, traditional identification has gone away. She is without name and interacts with anonymous guests known only by their number or avatar.
There is no doubt a great loneliness here. But to reduce her to lonely is to miss so much of what's happening. Because as users of Chatroulette discover, once the meta-narrative of identity disappears — once we stop naming ourselves, stop declaring our social status, our taste, our social tethers such as work and education — we discover something else. Face to face — or screen to screen — with a stranger, free of all meta-discourse that would prefigure the interaction, we discover incredible intimacy. All there is this encounter, these desires, this moment. Within the presumed mediation of the screen, we discover the immediacy of the encounter.
This is not to say that the network life is a life of singular immediacy. It is, after all, a network; it is multiple. And so we see her try to navigate this multiplicity, this teem of possibility, these different ways of going.
And, in particular, the ways of women-going or woman-becoming. As she makes her way through these chatrooms — some are more explicitly sexual — we see her encounter the breadth of possibilities of how to go as a woman, as a sexual woman, in the network. Just as the internet brings us the near-infinite breadth of consumer goods, it brings us the near-infinite breadth of identities. Look at all these modes of becoming woman! Look at all these modes of the erotic!
When we see her dress and leave the house, it is in a man's tuxedo. With her short hair and almost boyish body — although feminine through and through — we are witness to a certain twilight of fixed gender, a place of becoming where labels will not stick hard or fast.
The gaze that would fix her as woman-object has been multiplied. If John Berger finds woman nude in the fixed point of the Renaissance gaze, Lafia finds her naked, criss-crossed with thousands of gazes. Indeed, the film performs this: we see her seeing herself be seen, the film's camera often behind her computer which itself both camera and screen. The gaze has been proliferated and, with it, identity.
One thing that makes this film so powerful, so intimate, is that we get the sense that there is no crew, no cameraman leering, no boom ogling. She is filming herself. And in this seemingly simple act, she has already multiplied herself, made herself something that is seen. But not as an object. This is not a voyeuristic film. We are not invading her privacy. She is not nude; she is naked.
Because this is a network life, a place where identity is always and already expressive, always and already enmeshed in the world, in the web of becoming-selves, in the endless criss-cross of gazes and exchanges.
The camera, then, does not excavate. It does not mediate. It proliferates and connects.