Digital Arts and New Media: MFA: Collaboration, Innovation, Social Impact

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Patrick Stephenson: Queer (Bodies in Public) Space

Patrick Stephenson "Queer (Bodies in Public) Space"

A leather sex sling, hand crafted from materials officially purchased through UCSC research funding, hangs dramatically in the center of a darkened gallery between CRT televisions which speak through static blips about transformative group sex experiences. As a visitor you are encouraged to mount the sling which through thermal imagery projects the users image onto the gallery walls. This functions as an illustration of research into sex clubs as cultural institutions and palaces of unique aesthetic experiences, while placing the queered body as its central currency.

Patrick Stephenson decorates sex parties for a living, and has always been fascinated by the potential exchange between these clandestine haunts, and academically supported art institutions. Over the years he has pushed larger multimedia installations into sexual space, leaning on fluxus philosophies to enhance physical human experience. With the thesis work at UCSC, he intends to bridge the gap by reflecting back the aesthetic possibilities of charged queer spaces into an otherwise sterile gallery environment, upending puritanical notions of appropriate content rooted in the university, and society as a whole.

From the 2023 DANM MFA Exhibition "Heap is Full".