DIGITAL MUSES: THE VIRTUAL PHENOMENON OF CAM-GIRLS BECOME A DESIGN COLLECTION
Outside Italy is facing the pre-announced “Scenario 4”. The country is divided into yellow, orange and red regions, depending on the intensity and virulence of the virus. Work, home, curfew. Very likely, it will not be possible to leave the house again from the next week, except in cases of real need.
But there is one bright spot: I can say I’ve never “been” to this many exhibitions in a year, and the real surprise between many was a project of an Italian design duo, spotted during the recent Dutch Design Week 2020.
The design duo Giorgio Gasco and Gianmaria Della Ratta has created an eight decorative stucco molding collection inspired by the virtual phenomenon of the cam-girls, the girls who stage live sex performances via streaming in exchange for money or “tips”, and by the elements they spotted in their chat rooms interiors.
The stucco molding family was presented at Rotterdam’s Galerie Lecq during the virtual edition of Dutch Design Week 2020, whose theme “The New Intimacy" focused on the need to draw on creativity and imagination in order to find new balances between the people and the reality in the era of social distancing.
The recent surge in cases in the Netherlands has forced the organizers to give up a hybrid formula a few days before the event in Eindhoven, with the pavilions already set up.
But what should have stayed throughout the week 17th - 25th of October as a traditional exhibition, it is now fully available in the DDW2020 platform, including projects, interviews, virtual 3D exhibition rooms, designers profiles, thematical talk and all the contents shared “live” with the public during the week.
“The physical spaces have been affected by the coronavirus crisis but, on the contrary, the virtual space has been amplified and strengthened by it. For this reason, as designers, we felt the need to investigate this universe in order to live consciously in it, while understanding and using it for design purposes”, states Della Ratta to Li Edelkoort and Sabine Marcelis, during the discussion panels promoted by Dezeen x Dutch Design Week 2020.
THE NEW INTIMACY IN DIGITAL MUSES
Starting from how intimacy has been developed on the virtual mediums, the designers focuses on where this virtual intimacy takes its place: the bedroom.
Between the initial analysis and the final product runs a sociological analysis that has to do with the "bedroom culture”, which defines the bedroom as the place where youths develop their identity.
The meaning of private spaces evolves towards street-based subcultures or virtual realms, while the children grow.
Della Ratta and Gasco started analyzing those rooms with the eye of designers, driven by pure curiosity.
After having scrutinized the category of the streamers - vloggers, gamers, makeup artists, and so on - which daily produce contents from their rooms, they reduced the range of subjects moving towards a “very precise artistic direction among one of the many existing sub-categories, which fell on the virtual phenomenon of Camgirls”, that, in a way, encloses the history of web chat and the potential for internet broadcasting.
By extrapolating symbols, languages, sets and attitudes from the Camgirl world, they wanted to understand how these can influence the design and which aesthetic solutions they bring.
With Digital Muses they crystallized a process of product research in stone artifacts, looking at the actual new intimacy with a clinical eye, without filters.
While the sub-reality they took in consideration has freed itself from being judged just a niche phenomenon reporting an incredible increase both in streamers and viewers during the pandemic, Della Ratta and Gasco stripped a stereotypical view of this kind of sex workers, finding that set design is the core of the business.
The duo has deepened the topic through the methodologies of sociological research, starting from the environment within the phenomena take place and digging to the bottom to analyze the issue firsthand.
“In this picture, we can see different little workspaces: it’s really interesting how they create their own identity. Our goal is to elevate this aesthetical universe because we see a big artistic value in these scenarios. We did some interviews. A girl in particular told me and she tries to dress according to the room [rented or not]” said Gasco during the panel talk.
AN ALL-FEMALE DIGITAL MOVEMENT STORYTELLING
The relation between the dresses and the backgrounds is a key element for the performances, as well as for making a viewer “enter” inside a virtual room in spite of another, all in a bunch of seconds. This fact led to the building of a common visual language made of violet and pink shades, cushioned headboards, LED lights, fur, feathers, veils, curtains and tulles, all devolved to create recognizable storytellings and giving authenticity to artifacts cam-girls bedroom, where nothing is left to chance. This is the real point where the duo found the great artistic value of an all-feminine theatrical phenomenon, where environments are fixed for a still view of a webcam.
The Digital Muses project fully reproduces the process of the traditional bas-relief, the technique used in architecture as a decorative and narrative element on the walls/facades of the buildings: an artistic and didactic practice consisting in the research of significant symbols to be embedded right into the physical medium and to tell a story to the viewer.
The revaluation of the ancient technique, in my opinion, is a brilliant component of the project, which turns a strong digital matrix into a tangible restitution of a product: the antithesis and the summary of the project itself.
The main difference with the past? The subjects. The collection features kissing dolphins, furs, angels striking the tongues out and reproduction of objects coming from the bedrooms, like the Lovence, a remote control vibrator which is increasingly been used by the camgirls in their performances.
All of them are connected by the enlighten LED pink fil-rouge, which tells us the central role that is given to lights setting in the rooms for the streamers world in general.
The story behind the wall decoration is perceived loud and clear: the catchy, modern inspiration of a purely feminine and cheeky world strikes its pose in the composure of the marble dust material from which the stuccos are made, according to the original crafting technique receipt.
Digital muses is a project that has deliberately decide to avoid remaining in the speculative design field, courageously soaking a distant digital-free past in the contemporaneity and re-proposing a product of narrative design that even risks to disappear.