George Morl

Disposition of Digital Youth

Disposition of Digital Youth 


Acrylic, protein powder, flavourings, polyvinyl, ink, glitter, collage varnish, vinyl

172 x 116 cm (displayed on cermaic tiles)


︎ Summary

Disposition of Digital Youth is a painting chronicling online dating platforms for queer communities, exploring the plight of young men in seeking affection amongst the pressures of body-images, loneliness, isolation and risk of violence in society as gentrification has forced the closure of safe spaces for LGBTQ+ communities.

This painting forms an ongoing series exploring male body-images and intimacies influenced and experienced across digital media. Such image is informed by online dating accounts specifically intended for queer men and the proliferation of images of torsos and muscles, seeing how a users curation of one’s profile directly influenced the way the platform could facilitate ‘positive affirmations’ or the psychological term ‘positive social feedback’, based upon appearances of body-images; the more an image conforms to social ideals of beauty, for example cropping of arm muscles, or presence of abdomen muscles, the greater the increase in connections. In this instance the subjection of images or how they are selectively projected to others conveys feelings of worth, which the artist believe has transcended from a lack of education in which existence and visibility of queer conversations are validated:

‘Due to lack of queer conversations in education and resulting alienation... some adolescent men access platforms and material online to seek out validation in wider society. The issue is that poor self-esteem and fear of rejection from the past manifests as a risk of developing addictions later on in order to confront extreme feelings associated with depression, anxiety, loneliness, and isolation. And with smartphones media is now accessible instantly and publicly. Increasing use of digital technologies utilised for dating platforms has enabled queer individuals to find companions but at the same time has also led to projecting unattainable images of torsos and has exposed some to dangers of violence. In our journey to achieve equality in law we have undoubtly ignored the provision of stability’

A factor explored in relation to this work is how the body is projected and transmitted across media. The central figure is unidentifiable, anonymous and fluid, like a phantom body existing on an online profile informed by internet physicalities and quality. In this painting specifically, the artist utilises popularly consumed body enhancing supplements to compose altered human forms such as protein powders, flavourings, and compounds. The surrounding surface is adorned in collages of historical images and artworks of affection from religious mother figures, paintings of beggar boys to Victorian costume iconography contrasting representations of vulnerability in art.

Rather than fixed to a wall, the painting is displayed on floor ceramic tiles resting against the wall emulating medical facilities or rather gravestones for unknown soldiers. In other instances, the painting has been juxtaposed in purposefully constructed shrines under extreme low light levels complimenting the metal and religious content. Displayed previously in conversation with artworks by Bartolomew Esteban Murillo and Joshua Reynolds, whose copper painted depictions of beggar boys in streets offer representations of vulnerability in art. Essentially, throughout history the fragility and experience of youth has remained the same, though the modes within which the risks to young people exist have changed and more alarmingly become more intense.

︎ Further Reading

George Morl, Disposition of Digital Youth, Southend Museums Wordpress, 20 July 2018

George Morl, Disposition of Digital Youth, Edvardo Shadalow Instagram, 10 March 2019

Platform Artist Focus, Contemporary Visual Art Network, 30 April 2019

︎ Exhibitions

Precious Boys, Southend Museums, 14 July - 08 September 2018

︎ Assosiated Awards

Darren Henley Scholarship, 2016