“Universe of Desire” Opening February 8th at the Museum of Sex

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“Universe of Desire,” an exhibition about human desire as seen through the lens of digital behaviors, opens at the Museum of Sex on February 8th.

"Scream" from Digital Diaries (Taschen, 2000), Natacha Merritt, 1999

“Universe of Desire,” an exhibition about human desire as seen through the lens of digital behaviors, opens at the Museum of Sex on February 8th. Type. Swipe. Search. Upload. Download. Post. Stream. These are the new verbs of desire. Our most intimate thoughts, fantasies, and urges are now transmitted via electronic devices to rapt audiences all over the world. These transmissions—from sexts to private webcam feeds—are anonymous yet personal, individual yet collective, everywhere and nowhere, and they are contributing to the largest sexual record to date. In short, desire has gone viral. The exhibition “Universe of Desire,” opening at the Museum of Sex on February 8th, examines human desire as seen through the lens of digital behaviors.

But what does this mean? And what does it reveal about us? This exhibition explores these very questions through a lens of digital experiences by examining what we are searching for, how we do it, and what we leave behind on these electronic devices. In piecing this together, we begin to expose staggering truths about who we are and how we interact in this ever-changing world of modern sexuality.

"As human behavior becomes more clickable than physical, we can't help but wonder what this means for our most basic, biological impulse: sex.” says Mark Snyder, Director of Exhibitions and Co-Curator of “Universe of Desire.” The exhibition explores this very question by examining what we actually search for on the internet and what we leave behind.

Neuroscientists Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam, authors of the best-selling book, A Billion Wicked Thoughts, provide much of the inspiration for “Universe of Desire.” Ogas and Gaddam gathered and coded 400 million internet searches -- 55 million of which (or roughly 13 percent) proved to be searches for some kind of erotic content. The findings mined from analyzing the internet habits of tens of millions of people worldwide will be on display in “Universe of Desire.”

These anonymous searches bring to question our identity by revealing both expected “kinks” and “squicks” (squirm-inducing kinks), as well as the broad categories of shared desire that account for 80 percent of sexual internet searches, including “cheating partners,” “youth,” “mature,” and various genitalia. Confronted with this research we begin to see just how similar and different we all are as human.

Supporting this content is a variety of media that amplifies and humanizes the scientific findings of "A Billion Wicked Thoughts." Showcasing artifacts from Science, Culture, Art and Technology, Universe of Desire explores the virtual cataloging of our sexual wants, infatuations and yearnings by walking patrons through the kind of sex we, as humans, look up on the internet.

Photographer Natacha Merritt, author of Digital Diaries, has documented herself digitally for the last 14 years. As one of the first photographers to capture erotic imagery in a digital medium, a selection of this pioneering artist's work is exhibited for the first time in its chronology, offering a visual timeline as example of photographic evolution, serving both as record and expression of our sexual desires through the last decade.

Further exploring the relationship between digital imagery and sexual fantasy, visitors to “Universe of Desire” are invited to engage with a series of video and interactive experiences. Highlights include a digital mirror created by Kevin Bleich and Gabriela Gutiérrez which literally deconstructs patrons into pixels, and projects avatars of their "digital selves" onto the walls of the gallery, while an interactive video collage from Johnny Woods lures visitors into a virtual romp of sexual artifacts designed to stimulate, provoke and delight audiences.

Additional artwork and artifacts from Science, Culture, Art and Technology include the work of sexdiariesproject.com's Arianne Cohen, a larger-than-life Facebook conversation between Rep. Anthony Weiner and Blackjack Dealer Lisa Weiss, and a giant patchwork quilt of facial expressions by Laura McMillian and Kristin Reger, ripped from BeautifulAgony.com, a user-generated site that invites contributors to upload images of their faces in the midst of orgasm.

Additional artwork and contributions have been provided by Dirty Pillowz, Jesse Edwards, Hiroshi Kumagai, Tony Moriello, Janos Stone, PornHub and Wasteland.

Director of Exhibitions: Mark Snyder
Creative Direction: Emilie Baltz
Chief Advisors: Ogi Ogas, PhD and Sai Gaddam, PhD
Co-Curated by: Sarah Forbes and Mark Snyder

About The Museum of Sex
The Mission of the Museum of Sex is to preserve and present the history, evolution and cultural significance of human sexuality. In its exhibitions, programs and publications, the Museum of Sex is committed to opening discourse and exchange and to bringing to the public the best in current scholarship. The Museum’s permanent collection of over 15,000 artifacts is comprised of works of art, photography, clothing and costumes, technological inventions historical ephemera and an extensive multimedia library. In a city that never sleeps, the Museum of Sex is constantly evolving and has no plans to slow down. http://www.museumofsex.com

For more information contact:
Jim O’Shea
212-689-6337 ext. 125


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Jim O'Shea
Museum of Sex
212-689-6337 125
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