I discovered the beautiful work of Noortje De Keijzer recently in Amsterdam. Noortje knitted herself a boyfriend for a masters project at the Design Academy Eindhoven. I thought it was the saddest thing I’d ever seen. But I convinced myself it was about irony, or a clever parody of our desperate and messed up relationships in 2012. But no. Noortje told me she was actually just lonely. She said:
“I felt very lonely at times, and I’m sure everybody feels lonely from time to time. The strange part is that it seems like it’s an emotion nobody really talks about. As if it’s something to be ashamed of, a bad feeling that should always be avoided. By creating Arthur and Steve, I wanted to show the subject in a very light, humorous, positive way. I created this story about a girl so lonely that she decided to just knit a man who could accompany her”.
Apart from the beautiful commentary My Knitted Boyfriend offers on everything synthetic (even relationships) it also made me think of how touch and intimacy have been reinvented in ways we hardly ever reflect on. Haptic technology and gestural interfaces usher in new practices that are remodelling our sensual experiences. And while it might seem easy to snigger at the quirky knitted equivalent of a blow up doll, it’s no sadder than our current digital lives: cradling our beloved iPhone, pawing our iPad surface.
I keep coming back to Next Nature when I think about emotion and technology. Next Nature explores the boundary of where the born and made meet. So maybe it’s our next nature: to manifest our own solutions to loneliness, to knit the blues away. Soon we’ll access the memories (or entire consciousness) of our dream guy or girl.
I continue to be fascinated by the future of intimacy.
– Natalie Dixon