Love in the Digital Age
Curated by Valentina Peri
The project DATA DATING was launched in Paris in 2018 with the exhibition DATA DATING, that then traveled to Tel Aviv and London in 2019 and 2020.
In 2021, the academic book "Data Dating. Love, Technology, Desire", co-edited by curator Valentina Peri and professor Ania Malinowska was published by Intellect UK/USA.
In the same year the exhibition expanded in SWIPE RIGHT! Data, Dating, Desire curated by Valentina Peri at iMAL in Brussels: new artworks were selected to to respond to the new challenges posed by the pandemic.
After Brussels the exhibition went to Geneva, Switzerland under the title TECHNO ROMANCE in May 2022, and was presented in Brescia, Italy in september 2022 as DATA DATING DESIRE.
What does it mean to love in the Internet age? How are digital interfaces reshaping our personal relationships? What do new technologies imply for the future of the romantic sphere? How do screens affect our sexual intimacy? Are the new means of connection shifting the old paradigms of adult life?
By bringing together the work of several international artists, the exhibition attempts to explore new directions in modern romance: new forms of intimate communication, the process of commodification of love through online dating services and hookup applications, unprecedented meeting and mating behaviors, the renegotiation of sexual identities, and changing erotic mores and taboos.
Over the past century, the history of dating practices has shown that the acquisition of new freedoms is often accompanied by suspicions and stereotypes: what appears disturbing to one generation often ends up being acceptable for the next.
Today, the lack of broadly defined norms is creating a disconnected, two-tiered world in which some exist in a pre-internet reality, while others – who have grown up as individuals and sexual beings online – see the Internet not as an arcane elsewhere where people go to escape reality, but as reality proper.
According to a recent study, 1 couple on 5 has met through a dating website: the massive scale of this phenomenon is evidence enough of its potential for profit and an extensive collection of user data.
Dating websites and hookup applications will be the most rentable business in the future of the Internet. Today they are ranking third among paid content sites online, outpacing even pornography.
In terms of romance and intimacy, Internet and smartphones have generated new complexities that we are still trying to figure out. All these phenomena became hot-button in March 2020, when a global pandemic placed millions of people under total lockdown, enforcing to reconfigure most of social activities online and in a technology-mediated form. From online working to online partying, humans all over the planet tried to play with the discontents of social distancing, and to live the no-contact reality as the new normal.
This forced self-isolation and touch-less condition proved to be a significant driver for many people to move their romantic lives into the digital realm, inspiring new ways of courting, dating and catching, for both confirmed and novice users.
The massive scale of this phenomenon is evidence enough of its potential for profit and an extensive collection of user data and raises questions about the planned obsolescence that is supposedly inherent in this business model: the idea that online dating companies acknowledge the search for partners as a recreational activity and a product of the libidinal economy to be endless consumed.
According to philosopher Paul B. Preciado in Learning from the Virus (2020), « the subjects of the neoliberal technical-patriarchal societies that Covid-19 is in the midst of creating do not have skin; they are untouchable; they do not have hands. […] They do not have lips or tongues. They do not speak directly; they leave a voice mail. They do not gather together and they do not collectivize. They are radically un-dividual. They do not have faces; they have masks. In order to exist, their organic bodies are hidden behind an indefinite series of semio-technical mediations, an array of cybernetic prostheses that work like digital masks: email addresses, Facebook, Instagram, Zoom, and Skype accounts ».
By bringing together the work of several international artists, the exhibition Data, Dating, Desire attempts to explore new directions in contemporary romance and map the unprecedented connections between desire, emotion, technology, and economy in the post-pandemic world
Valentina Peri, exhibition's curator