This artist has turned a load of dirty messages into tapestry for a new exhibition
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What if you were to sew your Tinder, OkCupid and match.com messages together - it would be provocative, right? It would get the people going (Kanye)?
Kind of like this:
Cue Spike Dennis’s “The Hunt for the Unicorn” and “Content Moderated” collections, his private intimate messages/images from user generated content (UGC) stitched on canvas in the style of old European samplers..
“This work is a continuation of my unicorn studies and the critique of our attitudes and actions in a digitally inter-connected society," Dennis says. "This sculpture is inspired by online dating adverts posted by women who are seeking a male-female couple to enter into a poly-amourous relationship with.”
Considering my own brief encounters on the big Tinder (a total of two dates and over 1,500 matches - impressed?) and the new group setting update (questionable), I would say that these sorts of messages are all too frequent on the internet and have become completely disposable #screenshots. Dennis just brings to light how crass and carefree sexting and attitudes over the internet is now.
“Are you a selfie addict I hear they have meetings for that” - this is the most PG message I had in my Tinder archive; there were many more too rude to publish. I still want it sewn (none of my pictures are selfies either, just to note).
Currently Dennis is exhibiting at Modern Panic VII in Bethnal Green and the exhibition is well worth a visit; it's pretty cray. Undoubtedly on viewing the work it immediately seem to be influenced by Tracey Emin’s tapestry work of the late nineties, which saw her hand sew derogatory words/phrases said personally to her - all in all a more intimate encounter.
This all oddly contrasts to the use of UGC as it is detached from human contact; it is taken from a screen and then (Dennis having sewn it) this method becomes the personal aspect of the piece, rather than the instance the text/image/phrase was recieved.
Emin's tapestry (currently at London's Tate Britain)
Dating/sexting over the internet has become embedded in relationships; nearly everyone I know has at least tried Tinder/POF/match.com/OkCupid/EliteSingles and linked up on the site.
The most hilarious thing is that Tinder (for example) allows you to access and upload your Facebook information to start up your profile - so in two minutes you could be swiping like a pro. Although the app is an algorithm, the people are obviously not, but that doesn’t curb the way you can been approached. Many messages I received (and you also received, I imagine) wouldn’t be uttered face to face.
Dennis’s work features stitched graphic images of genitalia or dic-pics (as we say), something again not exactly uncommon circulating the ‘dating’ circuit. An extract of one message reads:
“Hi I’m S and I’m 33 so I’m quite a bit older and more experienced” - the rest is to cringe-worthy to type.
It's rapid, sexting and can be done in seconds, that is what makes the process of sewing so interesting - the blatant route to take possibly the longest, intimate method (50-250 hours) which completely mocks the way these sentences were originally constructed. The fonts are created by transposing them from an 18th Century English sampler, and some of the logos are from match.com and Trojan condoms as well as older Renaissance patterns.
Sexts are sent in their millions, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still accessible - think the new 21st Century problems that are revenge porn, iCloud hacks or even - you know - some artist deciding to stitch what you said - even though you wrote/took it without thinking about repercussions.
Sexting-art is a new medium a crossover that has been revolutionised from an inherent era that has brought intimacy into our ever-consuming digital lives. Without doubt it is fascinating, but the question is what is next for art - and for sexting itself?
Spike Dennis is exhibiting as part of Modern Panic VII at Newspeak House, Bethnal Green, until 14th October. Find out more here.