In the heart of New York City, the Museum of Sex (MoSex) showcases the show titled Universe of Desire until 4 November 2012
“As human behaviour becomes more clickable than physical, we can’t help but wonder what it means for our most basic, biological impulse: sex”
Mark Snyder, Museum Director and Co-Curator of the exhibition
The exhibition Universe of Desire explores the digital age and modern sexuality by examining the question what we are actually searching for on the internet, how we are doing it and what we leave behind on these electronic devices. Type, swipe, search, upload, download, post, stream are the new verbs of our world of sexual desire. Our most intimate thoughts, fantasies and urges transmitted via electronic devices attract the attention of audiences all over the world. These transmissions, ranging from texts to webcam masturbation feeds, are anonymous yet personal, individual yet collective, coming from everywhere or nowhere. However, all they contribute to the largest sexual record of the erotic history to date. In short, Desire becomes a virtual insanity that, through a lens of digital experience, can be examined and revealed.
But what does it really mean? And what does it reveal about us?
In piecing our thoughts and emotions together, we can be aware of staggering truths about who we are and how we interact in this ever-changing world of modern sexuality.
Neuroscientists Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam, authors of the American best-selling book titled A Billion Wicked Thoughts, provided much of the inspiration for the show intent and for the works put on display. However, what strikes the most is the variety of media of the showcased works that amplifies and humanizes the scientific discoveries described in this book, a copy of which is exhibited here. Ogas and Gaddam gathered and coded 400 million internet searches, 55 million of which (roughly 13% of the total amount) proved to be searched for some kind of erotic content. These searches bring to question our identity by revealing the broad categories of shared desires that account for 80% of internet searches, including the words “cheating”, “youth” and “mature”. The findings, resulted by analyzing the sexual habits of tens of millions of people worldwide, draw a portrait of how similar and different we all are as humans on some aspects.
Showcasing artefacts from Science, Culture, Art and Technology, Universe of Desire represents a virtual cataloguing of our sexual wants, infatuations and yearnings through the kind of sex we, as humans, look up on the internet.
Photographer Natacha Merritt, author of Digital Diaries, has documented herself digitally for the last 14 years. As one of the first photographers to capture erotic imagery in a digital medium, a selection of this pioneering artist’s work is exhibited for the first time in its chronology, offering a visual timeline as example of photographic evolution, serving both as record and expression of our sexual desires through the last decade. Highlights include also a digital mirror created by Kevin Bleich and Gabriela Gutiérrez which literally deconstructs patrons into pixels, and projects avatars of their “digital selves” onto the walls of the gallery, while an interactive video-collage from Johnny Woods lures visitors into a virtual play of sexual artefacts designed to stimulate, provoke and delight audiences. Additional artworks and contributions have been provided by Dirty Pillowz, Jesse Edwards, Hiroshi Kumagai, Tony Moriello, Janos Stone, PornHub and Wasteland. The show also includes selections from The Sex Diaries Project: What We’re Saying About What We’re Doing by Arianne Cohen, a larger-than-life Facebook conversation between Anthony Weiner and Lisa Weiss and a giant patchwork quilt of facial expressions by Laura McMillian and Kristin Reger, ripped from beautifulagony.com, a user-generated site that invites contributors to upload images of their faces in the middle of an orgasm.
The Museum of Sex’s permanent collection of over 15,000 artefacts is comprised of works of art, photography, clothing and costumes, technological inventions and historical ephemera all dedicated to preserving the cultural evolution of human sexuality. From fine art to historical ephemera to film, the Museum of Sex preserves an ever-growing collection of objects that would otherwise be censored and discarded due to their sexual content. In New York called “the city that never sleeps”, the Museum of Sex and its OralFix Aphrodisiac Bar never stop exploring the answer to the question “What’s sex have to do with it?”