By Jiaming August Liao (Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong), Diego Kohn (Music, Zurich University of the Arts), Wen-Chi Liu (Transdisciplinary Arts, Taipei National University of the Arts), Claudio Rainolter (Design, Zurich University of the Arts), Jingying Zhang (New Media Art, Taipei National University of the Arts)
Sexual desires and fantasies are mostly unspoken in public but lived out in digital space. In this new space we find comfort and freedom but also loneliness when it comes to the topic of sex and pleasure. 30% of all data transferred through the internet is porn-related but the topic is rarely touched or discussed in everyday life.
The digital world brings new rules and opportunities for us and maybe we even come closer to a truer expression of ourselves or at least an extension. To play with the borders and transformations of physical and digital space was a method during this project. Furthermore, dating apps and online streams, often connected to live sex cams led to the topic of sexuality and loneliness.
Starting from hidden places in the physical world we expanded these places into the digital world, where we searched for different behaviour from the physical world. Of course, there are infinitely different apps and websites, so we put a focus on social apps like WhatsApp, Facebook or Tinder because they involve multiple people and are closely related to life and the physical space. We continued with dating- and sex-apps and came to the subject of desires like sexuality that is sometimes lived out in the digital space more intensely or honest than in “real-life” because we can hide behind the screen in privacy. From there we created different possible installations connected to the topic of sexuality, digital space and physical space, intimacy or loneliness. On the way we shot different scenes of a performer sitting on a bed facing the camera and reading out of a porn magazine in a monotonous way. This video led to the final live performance of the performer sitting in front of the video camera with a live stream to the audience inside. Parallel to the video work we worked on the creation of a sound atmosphere. First, we worked with found material from the internet, such as noises during sex or with the repetitive character of sex as a way of working with sound. In a next step, we decided to go away from the actual found sound material and work with different sex toys in a live setting. This approach we pushed until the final performance during the exhibition in Shanghai.
Because we had too many different ideas how we could approach the topic we had to decide on one idea or way of working and letting some others go. So, we decided to work around the two performances and building two closed rooms facing each other. The audience would be able to peek through a door spy the see the performers either live during the performance or a screen during the phase of the exhibition, symbolising the digital space behind a physical space. But things changed during the last week in Shanghai as we entered the given space in the building and had to rethink our idea of the two rooms inside the space. We wanted to separate the two spaces of the performer and in between create another space which displayed the live stream from the performer mimicking a live-cam sex situation. The rest of the time we spend on decorating the different parts of the space in different styles, rehearsing the performances and fix technical and psychological problems.
The performance shows the play between two performers having different roles on the opposite site of the space. The audience observes a digital phenomenon projected into physical space, as they get closer to the performers which would normally be hidden away in their privacy of the digital world behind the screen or camera.
The project consists of four rooms that are connected together but in each of them, one can find a different aspect or aesthetic of the whole piece.
In the first room, the audience will see the face of the performer outside on the balcony air-kissing repetitively in their direction through a live camera application. This room is completely raw in its form and only a beamer and two speakers added to it.
Out of these speakers one hears sounds made by different dildos and vibrators transformed to a composition that without having seen the source of the sound will only be recognised as drone- or background sound without a specific goal. The room in which the sound is being produced is wrapped in black curtains surrounding the performer standing in front of a table wearing a white mask and playing with his instruments. The light of this room is quite dark and only four small neon lights in pink and blue colours shed some light for the audience to see the scene. Sometimes the performer turns on a small light on the table to reveal a better view over his equipment.
Between the two rooms mentioned above there is a smaller room covered in red fabric with Asian flowers on the walls. The entire floor and ceiling are covered in mirror foil that reflect themselves which creates a feeling of infinity. Next to this there is a small object made of reflective foil on the floor and a tissue with lipstick kisses on top of it (from the performer on the balcony).
Photos by Peitao Chen