<3 An Artistic Exploration of Contemporary Online Courtship

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This paper traces how my multi-media art practice explores contemporary courtship by investigating past and present modes of behaviour related to dating rituals. By using a research-creation methodological approach, my textile-based practice combines technological components to engage audiences in a dialogue with artworks based on gathered experiences of love and dating online. This body of work investigates the conveyed meanings of emojis, texts, and sexts, while juxtaposing historical and contemporary visual symbology to draw parallels or find differences between methods of signalling attraction through display. This study seeks to highlight how romantic communication, conducted and transmitted via screens and on digital platforms, can be interpreted or misinterpreted between potential partners. Given that romantic exchanges in digital culture are therefore processed through technology and appear as symbols and codes which may or may not be successfully communicated, I aim to understand this phenomenon through created experiences which examine facets of 21st century courtship. Contemporary online courtship employs new and unprecedented mechanisms for connecting with potential romantic partners, theoretically enhancing the chance of finding true love (if that is the goal). This paper details the development of ❤️❤️❤️, a five part series of investigatory electronic and textile new media artworks that analyze digital courtship behaviours, probing their historical Victorian-era roots, while examining how they both break from these traditions and reinvent contemporary online dating romance. The combination of historical and contemporary, symbolically-laden, modes of visual communication uncover various facets of 21st century romance including: its relationship to technology, online self-representation, communication, gender tropes, and historical and contemporary signs and signifiers connected to notions of romance and courtship texts. These artworks leverage technology through embedded electronic sensors, LED light displays, and texting with programmed artwork chatbots. The audience is invited to engage with the artworks in a dialectical relationship. The outcome of this audience participation is intended to produce a deeper understanding of contemporary dating through a relational approach via these technological tools. Viewers shift from passive observers of the artworks to active co-producers as they utilize digital media to express their ideas while experiencing other points of view, and ultimately, form their own individual meanings.
contemporary courtship, online dating, selfie, online representation, new media art, embroidery, floriography, language of flowers, emojis, semiotics
Housego, Kenzie (2021). <3 An Artistic Exploration of Contemporary Online Courtship (Master's thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from https://prism.ucalgary.ca.