MA Final Show
University for the Creative Arts, Canterbury, UK
24 August - 31 August 2018
Group show at University for the Creative Arts displaying final MA work featuring George Morl’s collection In Search of Validation 2018 exploring male body images across digital media 


UCA, Canterbury, UK
24 August - 31 August 2018
Monday - Sunday 10:00 - 17:00
Free Admission

In search of Validation, 2018, is a series of photographic prints that explores the ‘affects’ of male body-images online across dating and smartphone apps.

Observing 'affects' within what theorist Lawrence Grossberg called ‘Mattering Maps’, presentation utilised displays formed through digitally-altered-body-images, summarised by arranging works as a continuous network within environments.

Collectively displayed, both causation and affects in relation to psychological and social factors are evidenced. The artist observed individuals through documenting activities such as steroid consumption, protein powders, gym rituals, sporting clothes, fasting as well exercises. These were recorded using scientific apparatuses such as microscope adapted smartphones and endoscopes rendered and altered through computer softwares. These are subsequently contrasted alongside digitally enhanced and manipulated photographs of bodies, combining aesthetics of the internet enabling an overall image network-navigation.  

This project was part of Morl’s MA Thesis ‘Disposition of Currency’ (2018), evaluating and investigating performativity and affect theories of digital platforms in relation to male body images and intimacies. Under Harrison Pope’s theory The Adonis Complex (2000), which discusses how changing male labour and representations of men in the media including ancient and art history has changed the ornamental appearance of men. The development of the Adonis Complex referencing the painting ‘Adonis and Venus’ by Titian shows that men are also targeted about their appearances creating destructive obsessional disturbances and rituals concerning their own bodies. This has resulted in the increasing presence of body obsessions of men and body-image disorders, including body-dysmorphic disorder, anorexia nervosa, and bulimia. An example of this is the increasing consumption of anabolic steroids. What fuels this occurrence is the secrecy surrounding steroid consumption further exacerbated by the lack of vulnerability in some men to communicate.

Displayed alongside documentations of mobile phone and computer searches, screenshots of internet trend graphs and histograms, or search engine results for achieving muscle mass or sizes, collections of supplement adverts, screenshots of chatroom and student platform feeds containing individual’s discussions about attaining better fitness improvements or body fat percentages, or even anonymous online posts requesting information about steroid safety. These all reveal the motivations and anxieties of the users.

Ultimately together these evidence the paradigms of losing or seeking identity under the saturation of the male torso in media, where re-contextualisation and juxtaposition of data, images of bodies, and sometimes interventions of historical paintings from museums of power are subverted, permitting a dialogue regarding society’s ideas of self-representation.

The display of the images as a continuous network takes reference to the brutalist architecture or New Towns such as Basildon and Milton Keynes, characterised by service towers and concrete divisions. By presenting the amalgamation of works and data evidences, the motivations of individuals are exposed. Likewise through contrasting images of intimacy and vulnerability in relation to exposure of one’s body this attempts to fundamentally disrupt the ‘affects’ of digitisation on male body-images.

Images & Text © George Morl 2018

Selected Exhibition Images