Sex Penetrates Art at the 'TECHNOPHILIA' Exhibition

Using adult-oriented content and the internet as mediums, new media artist Faith Holland unveils her well-oiled first solo show.

by Benoit Palop
Jun 13 2015, 1:30pm

Ookie Canvas I, from the series Ookie Canvases. “Painting." 84” x 47.25”. Edition of 1 + AP, 2015. Images courtesy the artist and Transfer Gallery

This post contains adult content. 

Sex and pornography on one side, new technologies and the internet on the other; evolving with them in tandem—sometimes crossing paths—bright young new media artists are taking advantage of this meeting point—call it the proverbial g-spot, or whatever. This Saturday, the Brooklyn-based Transfer Gallery will open its space to TECHNOPHILIA, the first solo show from New-York-based new media artist & "biggest cat enthusiast ever," Faith Holland.

Assembling a series of works that question how new technologies shape modern sexual consumerist behaviors, Holland merges online, screen-based, adult-oriented content into a smart creative process that highlights our intimate and sensual relationships with the devices that surround us. "I'm attracted to the way Holland moves fluidly between the sticky corners of the internet and scholarly porn studies texts to present a strong position of female empowerment," Kelani Nichole, curatorial director at Transfer Gallery, tells The Creators Project. "Her lust for both theory and *ahem* practice produces artworks that are refreshing, playful, and tantalizing," she adds.

Rockets, from the series Visual Orgasms. Animated GIF. 1619 x 1080 px/20 frames. Edition of 5 + AP, 2014

While her strong background in film studies, combined with her interest and curiosity regarding the porn industry, are undeniable strengths when it comes to approaching these societal phenomena in a critical way, Holland explores the massive effects of consumption that generate and nourish virtual desires and arousal through a large-scoped series of works. Showcasing GIF series, ethernet cord orgy installations, and large-scale abstract canvases mostly made-up of open call-submitted human fluid collages, she offers a subtle critique of modern society and media that not only renders sex visually consumable, but also feeds into our device dependence.

The Creators Project spoke to Faith Holland to learn more about the concepts behind her approach and her creative practice, and also to gain an exclusive insight into TECHNOPHILIA:

Explosions (still), from the series Visual Orgasms. Animated GIF, 1619 x 1080 px/10 frames. Edition of 5 + AP, 2015

The Creators Project: Hi Faith. Porn, sex, and technology are recurring themes in your artistic practice. What are the origins of these interests, and what is your relationship to these elements?

Faith Holland: I first started looking at pornography through film studies, looking at high-level industry productions and analyzing how they were constructed and for what audiences. I dropped that inquiry for a number of years and instead was working on the structure of the internet in the popular imagination in a video called RIP Geocities. Both the research I was doing about internet technologies and the imagery I was looking at from cyberporns led me back around to thinking about pornography. Since then, I’ve viewed the two as inextricably linked in historical and technological senses, as well as usage and dominance of content.

Can you explain to us how you connect porn, sex, and technology in your practice? What's your process?

Pornography and technology, or sex and technology, are both already deeply interwoven, but I like to investigate and exaggerate those connections in order to better understand how they function and speculate what they will look like in the future. I approach this in different ways, such as intervening in pornography in some way, whether that’s uploading directly to porn sites (like Porn Interventions) or pulling and remixing pornographic content from those sites, such as in the Ookie Canvases, or recreating pornographic codings abstractly (Visual Orgasms, VVVVVV). The works also consider how “neutral” hardware becomes charged by the content it provides to us, such as libidinized wires, screens, and devices.

Geysers, from the series Visual Orgasms. Animated GIF. 1000 x 667 px/15 frames. Edition of 5 + AP, 2014

What are your thoughts about the impacts of new technologies on the ways we consume sex?

I am excited by new sex technology and the effects they will have on sexual encounters and beyond; pornography is well documented as a leader in developing web technologies that become commonplace, like using credit cards online or advancing streaming video. I’m also skeptical of the kind of consumerism and waste engendered by the tech industry. Still, I’d rather technology be pushed forward by sex than military needs, also an historical leader in products that eventually trickle down to consumers (like the internet itself).

Regarding TECHNOPHILIA, as many of our readers will not be able to attend your exhibition, can you offer them an overview of what will be presented at the show?

The show will consist of a projection of the Visual Orgasms series including four new pieces that are not yet online, two Ookie Canvases, which are “paintings” made by collaging found and solicited cum shots, a sexy photograph of lubed up wires, and two wire sculptures. Matrice is a trompe-l'œil floor piece composed entirely of Ethernet cords that appear to recede in space. It’s a recreation of an image from a cyberporn called Sexual Matrix which I’ve used before in my work, and points to the root of the word matrix which means womb. The other wire sculpture is a kind of altarpiece with 60 ethernet wall plates all plugged in with wires cascading to the ground and covered by lubricant. The smell of lubricant will also fill the space of the gallery along with sounds of computers whirring and soft, sexual moans. There is also an accompanying catalog with essays by Nora O’ Murchú and Seth Watter, with the sexy wire photo as a centerfold.

Bells Ringing (still), from the series Visual Orgasms. Animated GIF. 1500 x 1000 px/10 frames. Edition of 5 + AP, 2015

Can you talk to us about the creative processes for this show? Did you encounter any difficulties?

I met more conceptual problems than technical ones! The digital pieces, Visual Orgasms and Ookie Canvases, were straightforward but incredibly time consuming and stretched my computer’s memory and processing power to its limits—each piece has hundreds of layers. Ookie Canvases went through many iterations over the course of six months before I settled on its current form, and then I spent hours and hours gathering cum shots, masking them from their background, and collaging and coloring them. The Sub/emissions canvas was a faster process since people either emailed or anonymously dropboxed cum shots which were, in general, larger and higher quality, creating a totally different-scale relationship.

The sculptures too took some figuring out and I learned a lot of practical skills about how to make wires using a crimp tool, which I had never used before. Now I could wire a sculpture or a house!

Matrice, ethernet cords. 6’ x 6’. 2015

Lately, we heard a lot of talk about Ookie Canvases. It seems it will be the most important piece of this show. Can you tell us a little bit about it?

Ookie Canvases is by far the series that I had to spend the most time thinking about for this show. I was already thinking about cum shots for Visual Orgasms, but wanted to approach them in a more literal way. I knew I wanted to abstract them and relate them to painting, but it took a while to actually begin to think of individual cum shots as brush strokes. Once I started making the piece, I loved the literalness of the way I could appropriate the phallus to make a “painting.”

The show will conclude with a collection of GIFs to Have Sex By... What can we expect from that?

I have invited 40+ artists to make, as the title says, GIFs to Have Sex By. The idea is to create a kind of visual mixtape in the same way that people like to listen to particular kinds of music during sex. After it debuts at the closing at Transfer, all the work will go online where hopefully it can go into practice. ;)

Popcorn (still), from the series Visual Orgasms. Animated GIF, 1500 x 1000 px/20 frames. Edition of 5 + AP, 2015

What's next for you? Any other ongoing projects?

Once I’m done making all this physical work for a brick and mortar space, I’m looking forward to going back to Porn Interventions, a series of videos I make specifically for RedTube. I also want to push forward with the sculptural work and consider how I can integrate digital/video work with physical objects.

If you're in New York this Saturday, head to Transfer Gallery for the opening on  from 6  to 11 PM.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalog with essays by Nora O’ Murchú and Seth Watter, printed with a signed and numbered centerfold. TECHNOPHILIA will conclude with a collection of GIFs to Have Sex By, created by invited artists, screening at TRANSFER on July 11th.


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new media
digital art
Faith Holland
Transfer Gallery