© George Morl

In Search of Validation

In Search of Validation


Inkjet photographs, bullclips, pins



︎ Summary

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.

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 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 around 1980’s in paralell to representations of men in media such as advertising and cinema, are I believed informed by the trajectory of art history in which portryals of man were edited and co-ordinated in ancient sculptures or paintings of Gods to communicate ideologies and needs of society for purposes of war and beliefs. These have now manifested as a culture prioritising an ornamental appearance of men. An example of this is the increasing consumption of anabolic steroids in society. However what fuels this occurrence is the secrecy surrounding steroid consumption further exacerbated by the saturation of the hyper muscular torsos, often edited and manipulated and projected online across social media feeds.

Displayed alongside documentations of mobile phone and computer searches are screenshots of internet trend graphs and histograms, search engine results for achieving muscle mass or sizes, collections of supplement adverts, screenshots of chatrooms about steroid use, and feeds of exercise routines threads revealing motivations and anxieties of users. Ultimately together these evidence the paradigms of losing or seeking identity under the saturation of the male torso in media, where 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 concrete divisions. By presenting the amalgamation of works and data as evidence, 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.

︎ Further Reading

Platform Award Alumni Stories: George Morl, CVAN, 13 May 2019

︎ Exhibitions

Precious Boys, Southend Museums, UK, 2018
UCA MA Degree Show, UCA, UK, 2018

︎ Associated Awards

Darren Henley Scholarship, 2016

© George Morl