Every sexual encounter is a collage. Vogue and Penthouse magazines. Images from ancient Greek vessels and 17th century maps. Snippets from a fairy tale text and old advertising.
The initial sketch was re-imagined from a 1798 painting Cupid and Psyche, by Italian/French, Neoclassical society painter Francois Gerard, a student of David. The myth of Eros and Psyche quivers with alternating restraint and abandon. The Love God is sent by his mother, Venus, to strike the too-beautiful mortal girl with an arrow of unfortunate Love. Eros loses control and wounds himself with his own arrow, becoming enamored of Psyche.
At his Palace, the God imposes a categorical restraint on their lovemaking – it will only happen in the dark. One night when he’s sleeping, Psyche can’t control herself – she lights a lamp.
The collage records the eventual happy ending, after Psyche has overcome many restraints imposed by the god’s mother, and references Yves Klein’s sculpture Blue Venus from 1960. My restraint in the work was to scan the collage for the animation after each piece was added (or, occasionally, moved) – without any digital “fixing.” The process of the collage’s creation, animated, reveals dimensions of the love affair not visible in the final, rather restrained, portrait.
There’s a delightful experiment from three decades ago in which researchers at Swarthmore College took groups of college students, each comprised of four males and four females, and placed them in a room for an hour with no instructions about what to do. There were no rules. The students could essentially talk about or do whatever they wanted. And what did the students do with this freedom? They ended up chatting about all sorts of scintillating topics such as where they went to high school, how many siblings they had, and even their thoughts on the current, past and upcoming weather. They made “light” conversation, so to speak. Another set of group was put in a slightly different setup. They were given the same instructions, but the room they were led into was completely dark. What happened now? The discussion was very different. Their interactions were very different. Intimate and uninhibited, they were unchained from the social norms and expectations that prevailed in the lit room. In fact, not only did all of them accidentally touch someone else, but 90% of them did so on purpose. Eighty percent of the group reported to be sexually aroused, half of them hugged another participant, and some even ended up kissing. All in all, it’s amazing what a bit of fluorescent lighting can do for self-control.– Dan Ariely