This article is by Claire Lontis and is cross-posted from Base Magazine.
Evan Baden’s Technically Intimate seeks to convey how technology has depersonalised how we interact with our partners, including the advent of a worldwide audience.
Starting the body of work in 2008, Baden’s premise is this; to observe and display how “the Internet was changing how youth culture viewed sex, intimacy, and privacy”. It is not uncommon to have, among a circle of friends, a few who have been made a fool of after an intimate self-taken photo intended for their significant other has been circulated once the relationship turned sour. Baden stumbled across websites which paid for such photos. “I began to find many sites that trafficked in sexually charged and explicit images that had been taken by young women and sent to a second person, most presumably a boyfriend. These images then somehow ended up on the Internet for the world to see. And what’s more, the images seem to move from one site to the next, spreading like a virus across the web”.
So as technology has become integrated into virtually every aspect of our daily lives, was it inevitable that it would affect our sex lives? The Internet has anaesthetised us to voyeurism. It is this immersion and normalisation which leads to parroting, and that is where Baden’s work comes into play. “What interested me about this phenomenon was the public display of what was intended to be an intimate and private act shared between two people.”
The result is an extensive series of photographs showcasing partners and individuals engaging in what can best be described as amateur porn- camgirling, shooting sex tapes, taking topless mirror shots. The consistently well-lit and highly-stylised photos contrast with the assumedly low quality of the footage or images that would result of such a circumstance, and in that way the work is heavily ironic. The message is plain- our relationships use technology as a crutch. Instead of face-to-face, we use Facebook. We more readily send texts than call. And we strip to our skin not before our partners but before our iPhones, sending pixels of flesh in exchange for the validation of a swift-typed “mmm that’s hot”. Our up-til-dawn doing nothing on the Internet generation has re-defined sex to mean something which is downloadable as a JPEG.