Speculative Fetish addresses the way that technology functions as metaphor for the body, both in the language we use and in the ways we behave. Our use of personal devices is inherently intimate; tiny computers hug our thighs in our pockets and light up when we touch them. Such intimate relations–created by accessing sexts, porn, and lovers’ messages–also engender care. We update and maintain as push notifications and pings direct our attention. The exhibition will consist of Faith Holland’s two new bodies of work, Queer Connections and The Fetishes, as well as an online component, a catalog, and events.
Queer Connections parodies the heteronormative pairing of wires, which are divided into ‘male’ and ‘female’ parts. Through sculptural intervention, different typed and gendered wires are ‘misconnected’ using femme nail polish. These unexpected unions are then photographed and re-rendered as lasercut prints that float, larger-than-life, on the wall.
The Fetishes are hybrid GIF-sculptures that use different consumer devices, such as cell phones, tablets, and laptops as their bases. Each device plays a moving-image abstraction of flesh that has been appropriated from pornography. The screen of the device is treated with a tactile substance such as pubic hair, fur, makeup, or lubricant. The Fetishes highlight the physical way we interact with our devices–caressing, prodding, and cradling them all day long.
Other works included in the show are Best Viewed, a vinyl piece that directs gallery-goers to remove their underwear to best view the exhibition. When visitors are directed to the bathrooms in the back of the gallery to remove their undergarments, they will also find Wire Bath, a video depicting the artist bathing in a tub full of ethernet cords. Eroticism merges with relaxing, even tender moments surrounded by technology.
Accompanying the exhibition will be a website including Holland’s Device Care Manual, with instructions and GIFs that depict the creation and maintenance process of Fetishes. The launch of the website will coincide with a symposium co-organized with Nora O’Murchú on the conditions of care in art and technology. Related original essays and artworks commissioned by artists and critics will also be featured online.
Just as the body is a site for multiple uses, so are technologies. We share our lives with our devices; they provide us with pleasure, and in exchange we offer care.
TRANSFER will publish a catalog with an essay by writer and curator Francesca Gavin in conjunction with Speculative Fetish.