Examining the impact of new technologies and social media on our affective relationships and sexuality.
Future Love. Desire and Kinship in Hypernature, is the slightly optimistic title of a new exhibition at HeK, the House of Electronic Arts in Basel. The show questions the impact of new technologies and social media fundamentally on relationships and sexualities. How do they influence our ideas of love, family, and gender roles?
Karen Lancel & Hermen Maat explore how bio-feedback and wearable devices offer a means to record, analyse and possibly enhance our sexual behaviours.
Never has the future of our emotional, sexual and familial relationships appeared more exciting, promising and troubled as today.
Biotechnologies are presenting alternative means of reproduction, altering gender roles
and their biological boundaries, while also challenging the traditional structures of family ties. New industrial products offer to fulfill unconventional sexual fantasies, which can be realised through both physical and virtual realties. Global connectivity allows for the circulation of alternative models of love and sexuality, which continue to provoke ideological debates among puritans and liberals, but are increasingly accepted by the wider population. This new interdependence of technology, engineering and environment constitutes a new
concept: hypernature, an enhanced version of the ecosystem including artificial bodies and their correlations. In this context, some of the most farsighted theorists question our predominating role in the ecosphere, inciting us to go beyond the common discourses about the Anthropocene, while discussing our imperative instincts for reproduction and survival. (HeK)
The artists participating in this exhibition tackle these questions through a variety of media, from biotechnologies to virtual reality. They offer personal visions of our current sexual and romantic inclinations, not only related to personal romance, but also to sexuality as a sign of affection, a reproductive process or a recreational act.
Artist and activist Micha Cárdenas has developed apps that are specifically conceived for transgender users, to fill a gap in a market heavily determined by heteronormative models. Correspondingly, Mary Maggic creates fictional documentaries describing DIY protocols for hacking oestrogen, to discuss trans and women’s access to such hormones. Some artists, such as Pinar Yoldas and Špela Petrič, speculate about biotechnologies and the possibility of giving birth to designer children or even new species. Lastly, the compound installations by Joey Holder, Chloé Delarue and Olga Fedorova give shape to visionary and emblematic representations of our modern-day troubled sexuality.
Works of virtual reality such as the ones by Ed Fornieles allow for the experience of unsettling encounters with unexpected partners.
Without having seen the actual exhibition, Future Love appears a bit like a clever conceptualized product of the media market forces it tries to tackle. A wild mix of trending terms and screenshots from the early days of CGI, as conceived by an algorithm on the run. However, in the days of Alphabet and Alibaba any attempt to deal, play or tickle the artificial forces that shape nowadays society are essential.
In their own words: The exhibition “Future Love” offers critical, unconventional and imaginative views on our impending life while commenting on the present evolution of society and the imminent changes, challenges and opportunities that might affect our behaviours. The works on display are speculative, critical and at times utopic, inviting us to contemplate our models of affective relationships that define our condition as human beings and our presence in the ecosphere.
!Mediengruppe Bitnik display the cynical mechanics underlying online services like the dating portal Ashley Madison (which was wildly populated by purely virtual female fake profiles) .
Future Love. Desire and Kinship in Hypernature, at HeK, the House of Electronic Arts in Basel
18.01.2018 – 15.04.2018
Admission: 9 / 6 CHF (red.)
Artists: Micha Cárdenas (US), Chloé Delarue (CH), Olga Fedorova (RU), Ed Fornieles (UK), Joey Holder (UK), Karen Lancel & Hermen Maat (NL), Mary Maggic (US), Dmitry Morozov (RU), Špela Petrič (SI), Wong Ping (HK), Tabita Rezaire (FR), Una Szeemann (CH), Pinar Yoldas (TR/US), !Mediengruppe Bitnik (CH)
Curator: Boris Magrini
All images via HeK