It takes at least two to cuddle. Something special is arising between the cuddled bodies, something none of us would be able to create alone. This energetic exchange is very difficult to grasp with words. That's why in this project I used a code that changes hugs into drawings. Each drawing is different because there are no two identical hugs. Intensity and length of each hug affect the density and length of the drawing lines.
The authors of the drawings are persons hugging each other and the code, all in equal relation, none of the parties can fully predict the effect that the embrace can bring. We all participate in an experiment that can surprise us. We can all share its effects at www.thecollectionofhugs.com.
Zofia nierodzinska was kind enought to write this wise text about The Collection of Hugs.
In contemporary art the category of affect is experiencing a real renaissance. We can observe, or rather feel, a shift - after turgid years of modernist, white cube abstraction and a cheerful, yet at times cynical, post-modern sensibility – a turn toward what is direct, connected with experiencing and creating the situation in real time, a shift towards emotions. Emotions, unlike affects, express socio-cultural conditions, while affects represent biological, direct reactions of the body to particular stimuli; however, sometimes these terms are used interchangeably. Therefore the contemporary variety of materialism, with its shift towards corporeality, would be related to affects rather than emotions, since the former can be extended to all living creatures and even matter and thereby overcome anthropocentric, cultural exclusivity. Feminist new materialism, with American physicist, feminist and queer activist, Karen Barad at the forefront, postulates a radical re-evaluation of the human position in the world. It puts the human subject on a par with other living creatures, thus making him/her an integral part of the world which is not created by him (the masculine pronoun is not a coincidence here), but co-created. Performance with the use of the code, thanks to which the ”The Collection of Hugs” is created, can be defined after Karen Barad as a record of the process of intra-actions, i.e. of a situation in which various factors have a simultaneous influence, all of them directly if differently, on the shape of a given event – here the process of hugging and its portrait in the form of an electronic illustration. In this particular case we encounter two beings, sensors and a code that converts the performative action (the proximity of two bodies) into a series of curves in the form of a drawing - a trace left in the computer software. Such traces are a record of a material and technological marriage, created as a result of adding to the intimate gesture of hugging the element calculated and directed at a specific purpose of the code. In order to be set in motion the installation assumes on the one hand the participation, in the traditionally individualized creative process, of other subjects (gesture of hugging), and on the other hand makes the technological process an inherent part of the whole situation. Accordingly, we are dealing here at the same time with a network of interactions between many elements (animate and inanimate), whose boundaries are fluid, while the result, although controlled by the algorithm, is ultimately unknown, as it depends on the varying intensity of a hug.