Nice Guys Are Hard To Find

A good friend of mine once told a few years ago, “Kim, I am too cynical about dating in general that I would never try out any of those apps, but I love listening to all of your dating stories and troubles. As an artist yourself, don’t you find your experience inspiring and want to make something out of it?” It’s funny how that a few years later, these personal romantic experiences have indeed become a recurring theme in my work that now evolved into my thesis.

Tinder was launched in 2012. I initially felt weird and suspicious towards the new concept of dating like many others yet finally gave it a try in 2014. Since then, many other apps appear. Online dating became popularized among the millennials. Meeting new people was much easier than before. Modern romance was born. Terms like casual but not a hookup; exclusive yet not too “serious” become recurring discussion topics you have with your potential partner, your friends and also conversations you overhear at restaurants, on public transportation or in universities. It seems like the introduction of these dating apps have effectively work in our new favor of promoting non-binary relationships over the conventions. However, I heard so many complaints about commitment issues, conflicts between expectation and reality, losing faith in dating and love. Why are so many people frustrated about dating nowadays? Has our expectation and perception of love really changed?

Looking back at what I have made at ITP, my journey began with Baenana, an extra large interactive banana who talks about dating in 2017. Through the action of peeling a banana, Baenana’s romantic experience slowly unraveled. She began talking about her innocent yet romantic first date with a guy she met online that transit into something more intimate then erotic and eventually ended up with her crying over the guy’s inability to commit due to his disbelief in monogamous relationships.

After Baenana, I began questioning whether love and romance can exist without the presence of a physical body which then comes to one of my most recent project “Sad Bunny”. Sad Bunny is a sniffling, sobbing Google Home I created as a digital representation of myself who you console through a recent break-up. Reverting the emotional labor dynamic between human and voice assistant, Sad Bunny demands her user’s attention to listen to her intimate details of her romantic experiences and give her advice for risky situations.

For thesis, I want to extract ideas from Sad Bunny and create a female digital entity through Google Home. She will not only have a physical presence but also an online profile like any other Tinder user. Only the person who matches with her online can go on a date with her in real life. The ideal venue will be a gallery with a table set in the center of the space with Google Home sitting on top on one end and a chair on the other edge for her date. Content wise, I still need to work on some more research in order to pick an angle to target on but it will pivots around our concept of love and romance in the digital age. The interaction between the Google Home and her date will also critique on modern relationship issues we have been ignoring. I have been researching my topic which I plan to continue and then develop my narrative in the next two weeks.

Works I have been looking at:

“Her” – Spike Jonze

“Modern Romance” – Aziz Ansari

“The Lobster” – Yorgos Lanthimos

“Hang the DJ” – Black Mirror

“Hey Stranger” – Kirsten Lepore

“Super Sad True Love Story” – Gary Shteyngart

“True Love Tinder Bot” – Nicole He

“Modern Millennial” – Iliza shlesinger

“How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” – Donald Petrie

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