Love by Proxy, 2020-Ongoing

‘Love by Proxy: Diagrammatic Drawing Series‘, 2020-ongoing

Dimensions: A1

Materials: Tracing paper, highlighters, black pigment ink

In 2020, I was awarded a Data Fellowship by the South-West Creative Technology Network (SWCTN). Funded by Research England and in partnership between the University of the West of England, Bath Spa University, University of Plymouth, Falmouth University, Watershed, and Kaleider, I was invited as a New Talent Artistic Researcher, to critically reflect upon data, alongside 23 fellows from academic, industry, and creative backgrounds.

The Data Fellowship began when the pandemic hit and following my divorce. Though my divorce proceedings were a straight forward, amicable affair, when the Data Fellowship moved online, being confined indoors, and with a laptop as my only form of communication to the outside world, it was during this extraordinary time that I began to mourn the loss of my long-term relationship and my heartache began to surface.

Opening-up my heart to Google’s search engine, this tool became my closest confidante.

While looking for a means to process my heartache, as a material, I started to form word associations, using a colour-coding system, which I tracked within a spreadsheet.

From facts to fiction, song lyrics and quotations, I began to accumulate a mass of datum concerning matters of the heart.

Discovering Sternberg’s Triarchic Theorem for Love, I was curious to see if I could visually exhaust Sternberg’s Triarchic concept, executed using a pattern making process, as a means to slowly-process heartache, in a matter-of-fact way, with some emotional distance.

Mediating with Sternberg’s Love Theorem, through a multitude of sequences, 50+ unique ‘Love by Proxy Diagrammatic Drawings’ were spatially mapped.

Taking a moment aside, out of the trance of this Triarchic Love spell that I had created, I recognised I had instigated a symbiotic relationship with machine learning, becoming a form of slow-processing algorithm.

As means to share my findings, with my fellows, during the pandemic lockdowns, I published ‘Love by Proxy: Diagrammatic Drawing Series I & II’, online, in which, my kaleidoscopic drawings are accompanied by a disjointed, instruction-esque form of storytelling. Spoken by an artificial intelligent voice; named Michael, who utters word-associations that are loosely formed from a multiplicity of factors (circumstances, facts, or influences), too much exposure to Michael’s techno-fetishistic, humanoid language can leave you susceptible to his uncanny spell, which sways between the comical, the empathetic, and the eerie.

Thinking about datum and how it can become out of date if not maintained, over time, ‘Love by Proxy: Stratified Spreadsheet Drawing Series’, 2022, came into being, in the form of data abstractions that highlight the misconceptions of data, if presented out of context, and speaks to the nature of digital forms of referencing, which can become unstable once web links become broken.

'Love by Proxy: Stratified Spreadsheet Drawing, Exhibit A', 2022

'Love by Proxy: Stratified Spreadsheet Drawing, Exhibit B', 2022

In 2010, Sean O’Hagan reviewed David Shields Reality Hunger, describing Shields style of writing as a ‘raw’, ‘unprocessed’, and ‘uncensored…genre-blurring 21st-century prose’, that ‘questions ownership’ in our ‘technology-driven culture’ [1].

With Shields in mind, I envisage the ‘Love by Proxy: Stratified Spreadsheet Drawing Series’, 2022ongoing, as printed monolithic, aluminium panels, in which the unruly, often untrustworthy and dynamic nature of electronic publishing becomes solidified. I propose this as an act of petrification, in which, the fluidity of hyperlink references is lost and only image and object remain. 

Ultimately, what materialises in the ‘Love by Proxy Series’ is a combination of communication make-ups and break-ups, which culminate in a wholehearted performance (or even a performance full of holes), that overflow with unbounded sequences, iterations, and potentialities. 

[1] O’Hagan, S. (2010, February). Reality Hunger by David Shields. Retrieved from: Source cited: 20th May, 2022