This week I’m starting with a broad look at how sex and relationships are augmented and grow to accomodate new forms of cyberculture, robotics and communications. There are so many ways to tackle this subject; so many perspectives that I could explore. Whether we’re investigating the exploration and safe expression of niche sexual desires via simulation or virtual reality, the evolving communications frameworks of digital love, the involvement of networked technology and robotics in love and sex, or the complex human psychological patterns developing in response to these subjects, there will be much ground to be covered.
While I am trying to work out which subject I would like to specifically, I am curating a general list of resources with short annotations on my blog. I hope that this short list will help me to determine exactly which area holds the most promise for the focus of my Digital Artefact.
A broad place to start on my quest for knowledge is VICE’ short documentary on The Digital Love Industry. The documentary centres on many of the areas relating to my research subject: cybersex, virtual reality, interactive digital spaces, the limits of human connection to simulated experiences, and the judgements that accompany these subjects. Virtual Reality LA Co-Organiser Jonnie Ross makes the point that virtual reality pornography or sexual experiences are going to reflect current digital encounters; they will not be purely about porn or purely about long term relationship supplementation, but about the choice to experience new sensations no matter what you’re looking for. Where First-Person Shooter simulation technology may have been used to emulate the shudder of a gun firing, it will also be used to create realistic physical sensations which can effectively mirror the actions of your partner online. Touch sensors will enable modern day couples to communicate every aspect of their affection while separated by distance but brought together by an app accompanied by sex-tech. While this comprehensive view of the beginnings and current trends in cyber-love is a great ‘jumping off point’, I also feel that it is very much weighted towards male and couple relations, with a noticeable lack of emphasis on visuals and experiences which provide a view to what VR and sex-tech might have to offer women. Jordan Kushins of Gizmodo agrees: ‘Female anatomy might be more complex to navigate, but if the tech is there to send the signals, it’s a shame they [haven’t] figured out a way to make the feelings mutual.’
There are many more areas to discuss, especially when we begin to involve concepts of morality and ethics in relation to A.I., equality and the significance of virtual relationships. More to come… pun intended.