In the video, Katy Perry's looking, but not seeing. She's somewhere else entirely.
Her glazed eyes belie a world of weariness—or is it a dream of another world, a parallel universe? We can only imagine what's spinning inside her mind.
Pop musician Katy Perry is known mostly for gallivanting on top of clouds and shooting whipped cream out of her bra, but in the video known only as "Katy Perry deep in thought at breakfast," she shows us that there are many more facets to Twitter's most popular account-holder than any of us imagined.
She's wearing striped pajamas and her hair is short. Sitting alone, she gazes off into the distance. She has a cup of coffee in front of her, but she's not drinking it. Instead, she absently fiddles with the spoon and chews on something absentmindedly. Her blue eyes are bright beneath their impenetrable glaze.
She looks, if not exhausted, then spent. She looks like everyone on the subway in New York looks at 6:30PM on weekdays or 4:00AM on weekends. She is elsewhere, dissociated, removed, gone. Perhaps she's floating on the astral plane, or maybe just hallucinating. Maybe she's actually an android whose mind has just recently become aware of its true nature. Maybe she has just cracked the code to the Matrix. Maybe she's been possessed, a la Laura Palmer in Twin Peaks—the red curtains are evocative of that show's seminal red room, and the scene is definitively Lynchian. There's also an Edward Hopper kind of domestic apathy to the scene, a kind of resigned loneliness that is evocative of the cosmopolitan dissociation of Nighthawks.
What is she thinking, for God's sake? Is she calculating how to hack the Twitter algorithm, so that she might end up with almost as many followers as the President of the United States and Kim Kardashian combined? Maybe she's dreaming up her next "Firework"? Or is it something more?
Look, there's something weird about the video, something off or skewed, which is perhaps why it has haunted me for so long. I have so many questions. We are told that she filmed this as part of a 4-day Orwellian spectacle in which she allowed a camera to follow her around 24/7. But why is she wearing so much eyeliner? And what's with the prison pajama suit?
Aesthetically, the footage resembles a grainy 1990s TV special or one of those hand-held horror movies, complete with the local time emblazoned in the right corner. The time, 11:26 AM, is printed on an image of an eye-shaped outline filled with several rainbow-colored rectangles, which may or may not signify something. Like the Trystero symbol in Pynchon's Crying of Lot 49, is that symbol trying to link us up to some postmodern underground cult of people trying to connect in a world outside capitalism's invasive presence? Is 11:26 the answer to some secret code?
The footage evokes bygone eras in part because she is not looking at her phone, a fact that could be the source of the video's strangeness. We never see anybody spacing out anymore. There is no room for space, not in the collapsed digital landscape where everything is literally at our fingertips, just an Amazon link away. In fact, her decision to simply not participate in a world that perpetually demands our attention and participation is almost radical.
Whatever she's thinking, she doesn't seem too concerned. She seems a bit bored, a bit detached, maybe incredibly hungover. This leads me to think that it really is Katy Perry sitting there and not an android, though you never know.
Knowing that this is part of a live-stream meant to let people into her life makes it even more strange, more full of contradictions. Maybe she's exhausted beyond belief by the perpetual surveillance, or she's contemplating reality and mankind's place within it, or she's simply inviting us to witness the lost art of being lost in thought. Or maybe she's stoned. Who knows?
Whatever it is, I relate.