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Host Spraying Guest with Undisclosed Pheromones

Host Spraying Guest with Undisclosed Pheromones

June 24, 2014

The invite sent to guest was so: 

Dear friends,

Please join us this Tuesday, June 24, at 7pm, for the inaugural salon in an upcoming series at my home in Williamsburg. Our first artist-in-residence here at Room & Board, Daniel Fishkin, and I have planned an evening of performances and events, including several New York premieres. The salon centers around OKCupid and the themes, rituals, and revelations of online dating.

The evening's central performance, Daniel's Body Piece (2014) for laptop ensemble, will commence promptly at 8pm. Other durational works and events will vie for your attention throughout the evening.

We hope to see you there! Feel free to circulate this invitation to friends and colleagues. All: please RSVP to this address.

Location: [REDACTED]

Time: 7pm

Light refreshments will be served.



[Room & Board]

Though this job came to me through the endless bounty1 the Internet provides, it was right where I used to live, directly across the street from my last apartment. How intriguing.

Among the reasons why this job appeals to me:

  • It's an opportunity to explore the living space of strangers.
  • It's hosted by peope who were my anonymous neighbors.
  • It's an official NYC art salon, presumably attended by the sort of people who attend art salons, who are likely classier than the dirtbags I often hang out with.
  • It's on the subject of OKCupid, a subject I'm intimately familiar with. 
  • The host was going to be spraying everyone in attendance with mystery pheromones.

Dedicated reader, you may know by now of my adventures with OKCupid. You may know I can tell many tales of triumph, tears, and stultifying confusion. I was excited. Discussions of OKCupid, online dating, and any interactions in virtual spaces that lead to interaction in real life are fascinating. I wondered what these strangers have to say about their experiences, though I didn't expect to hear many tales that would compare to mine. Nobody I know has dated like I dated, so ambitiously2, so earnestly and so often.

Who could understand what I've apprehended? Since I'm lacking the facility for making a better comparison, I'd say It's like the way only combat veterans3 can truly understand the complex meaning in the words used in other veterans' combat stories. Language isn't always enough to convey an experience to someone who hasn't experienced it. I'd hoped that at the salon I'd bump into people just as experienced as me on the frontline of romance. I'd seen those sorts of people before. Unfortunately they were often on the other side of the battlefield, asking me banal questions intoned with hopelessness as we sipped through cocktails at another bar made of reclaimed wood. I hoped to hear some stories from people who'd, like me, managed to navigate their way through dating without acquiring a thousand-yard stare. 

I'd hoped to hear their philosophical takes on OKCupid. Takes on why and what it means that we're all on it. Takes on why and what it means that thousands of single unhappy people are all simultaneously unhappy about it. I'd hoped there'd be someone there answering, in example, perhaps with the authority and insight of a seasoned behavioral economist who'd done research in the field, why we all don't just partner up with someone to solve the singlehood misery problem. But, unlike data scientists, art and artists respond to issues with interpretations and in obtuse arguments. Fishkin's Body Piece for was one of those.

I'd describe Body Piece as an array of human-operated MacBook speech synthesizers vocalizing the statements OKCupid users made from the typical, to the sad, to the weird, in response to the various questions they're asked to complete in their profiles. What was read were the typical statements every OKCupid user has seen and read before, but hearing voices read the written text made the words seem at once both more and less human. It made me cringe just a little. Fuck, we're a sad and lonely lot. When it was over, I was thankful nothing I ever wrote on an OKCupid profile was appropriated for the work. 

What I overheard in pieces of guests conversations was mostly of regarding disappointments in the dating market: the quality of the stock available, the weirdness of others, the aggressions of men, the loniless of other people, general abstracted dissatisfaction. When it comes to discussing online dating, this is standardized, safe, position to take. Revealing yourself to have insecurities in the dating marketplace is like being the Everyone else is the weirdo. Excep every single one of us is a weirdo. Which: Maybe answers my previous question about out singular miseries as well.  

As for the guests being sprayed with the pheromones, the results of the experiment were inconclusive. All I know is that I thought everyone there was beautiful. 

More photos: Room and Board Inaugural Salon

  1. I run an IFFT script that scours Craigslist for photography leads and emails the listings to me. 
  2. I've been on 66 first dates since moving to NYC in 2010. 
  3. I am not comparing my dates, that time in the trenches of love in battles for hearts and minds, to actual combat, which is beyond my understanding. 
  4. Daniel Fishkin is making some brilliant audio art. His website, linked above, is unfortunately hardly a representation of what he does. If you can experience – because listening isn't enough – his work somewhere in NYC, you should.

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