Touch Screen

On March 12, 2020, flying back from London and with a global lockdown brewing, I started to think of life without physical connection. Will the pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and social distancing become our generation’s emotional prison sentence? What will life be like without intimacy; our desire and need to be touched unfulfilled?

I am of a generation where social media dominates our daily obsession, where voyeurism and a constant connection to our family, friends, idols and lovers is mandatory.  The technological devices in our hands edged into our lives and separating us from the physical – moving us into the virtual, a blessing and our curse. But now shit is about to blow up. 

This first story in the inaugural issue of TINGS magazine, TOUCH SCREEN reflects the vision of our publication, the merger of media into one platform and the commitment to collaborate with other creatives and collectively explore whats “Next”.  

Over the past several months I directed models in their homes around the world, remotely from my apartment in Los Angeles. Filmed on an iPhone, each model was documented in screen recordings featuring the raw and unfiltered process, the technical challenges, and our ability to connect and create thousands of miles apart.   

Enjoy touching the screen.

– Justin Campbell


© E L James                                                                                                  

GIRL REACHING UP:

MARJAN

I touch your face but it’s not you. It’s not the softness of your cheek or the prickle of your stubble beneath my fingertips. It’s the smooth, cool barrier of the screen. It’s no substitute for you.

BOY ON THE SOFA:

TON

Why aren’t you with me? You should be here beside me, or above me or beneath me. But you’re not. You’re trapped within a screen like I’m trapped within my home. Alone.

GIRL WITH DARK EYES:

TAMI

The worst time of the day is saying goodbye to you. I want to talk and talk and talk but I know it’s late on your side of the world, and you need sleep. I’ll miss you. Until tomorrow.

HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT:

FRANCISCO

A glimpse of you each day sustains me. My fingers itch to touch you. Everywhere. But all I can do is look at you and bathe in your gaze. Your image is no match for when you’re here with me.


A collaboration with E.L. JAMES, Quarantined in London. Scripted dialogue representing the thoughts and the voice of lovers miles apart. Introducing Marjan Jonkman quarantined in Amsterdam, Ton Heukels quarantined in the Hague, Tami Williams quarantined in Dumbo, Francisco Lachowski quarantined in Green point, and Justin Campbell quarantined in Los Angeles.