Fast Love

An Online Exhibition

SUMMER SHOWCASE 2020

"As an artist I naturally self-isolate, but it feels unsettling when society at large is doing it too. I hope this work offers the viewer a moment away from the chaos of the past few months and provides an opportunity for some creativity, humour and a reminder of how we connect with each other.

 

Fast Love is a series of works that playfully blend iconic fast food staples and intimately human objects - creating a visual parody of contemporary dating culture. I noticed distinct similarities between the ease of access, disposability, addictive and consumer-orientated nature within fast food and dating apps. These references made for compelling visual cues within the narrative I wanted to explore." 

Natalie Wong

London, July 2020

Natalie Wong, Glazed and Confused, 2020

Screenprint on Hahnemühle 308gsm paper

Unframed 20" x 20" (50.8cm x 50.8cm)

Framed 21-11/64" x 21-11/64" (53.8cm x 53.8cm)

Limited Edition of 20

“Dating apps are basically slot machines – there’s the promise that you’re going to find something good, and every once in a while you get a little positive reinforcement to keep going.”

- David Greenfield, founder of the Center for Internet Technology Addiction.

At first glance, the viewer will see a strawberry glazed doughnut with multi-coloured sprinkles.

 

On a closer study, the viewer will notice that the sprinkles are, in fact, various drugs and pills. Additionally, the circular tablets are branded with a logo of the dating app, Happn. In 'Glazed and Confused', the artwork explores themes of swiping addiction and instant gratification.

As people swipe, frequent matches and inviting messages provide a mini-hit of dopamine to the brain that keeps people coming back for more. The artwork's underlying message is that for many singles on the dating scene, the act of swiping has become an addiction because they know a match or a like is guaranteed and human brains thrive on intermittent variable rewards.

It was all in vein Framed.jpg

Natalie Wong, It Was All In Vein, 2020

Screenprint on Hahnemühle 308gsm paper

Unframed 20" x 20" (50.8cm x 50.8cm)

Framed 21-11/64" x 21-11/64" (53.8cm x 53.8cm)

Limited Edition of 20

The traditional McDonald's logo is subverted and replaced with a revised tinder logo. It feels good when you consume someone’s love and affection but after repeatedly doing this with multiple strangers, you may feel physically sick and guilty. The artwork also suggests that acquiring 'love' this way is not inherently healthy and is merely a temporary form of satisfaction.

‘It Was All in Vein’ reflects the idea that when dating on apps, people form an addiction to consuming and collecting people’s feelings and emotions. People are now seen as commodities, as opposed to individuals. It also implies that technology has internalised the idea that people are readily available for our own personal consumption and enjoyment.

White Sands

Natalie Wong, Instant Connection, 2020

Screenprint on Hahnemühle 308gsm paper

Unframed 20" x 20" (50.8cm x 50.8cm)

Framed 21-11/64" x 21-11/64" (53.8cm x 53.8cm)

Limited Edition of 20

‘Instant Connection’ plays with the packaging of the branded food staple by replacing the Nissin Ramen Boy (usually featured solo), with a female companion.

 

The chopsticks are shown to hold a pair of wedding rings and the flavour is labeled as ‘human’. The work presents the idea that dating apps sell the goal of long-term companionship that can be accessed, made and produced rapidly and with ease.

With instant ramen, the fast-food product has eliminated the need for advanced culinary skills and shortened the time required to prepare a meal. 

 

In comparison to dating, if individuals were to meet potential dates in the traditional sense, it could take hours and require a developed level of social skill. Now, dating apps have diluted these requirements. Additionally, it is inconsequential that chemistry is not developed during early conversations because apps provide efficient opportunities to meet someone else.

"The interesting question here is - are people in trouble of always searching for the ‘better’ option because it has become so inherently easy to dismiss a conversation if it goes south? Do dating apps just perpetuate swiping and never actually finding?"

Natalie Wong, More Pepperoni Please!, 2020

Screenprint on Hahnemühle 308gsm paper

Unframed 20" x 20" (50.8cm x 50.8cm)

Framed 21-11/64" x 21-11/64" (53.8cm x 53.8cm)

Limited Edition of 20

In 'More Pepperoni Please!', there is the conspicuous connection between male genitalia, condoms and pepperoni. The cut olives have tinder logo-shaped depressions at their centres and the dripping of the cheese is also mildly suggestive.

 

Dating apps have been the biggest contributors to the growth of hook-up culture in the modern age. This work makes the most explicit connection between sex and fast-food within the series. The visual references within the work imply both the gustatory satisfaction of both the sexual experience and in the consumption of food, but also that they are both pleasurable and sell the idea of ‘guilt-free indulgences'  for casual sex or fast food cravings. 

The appetite for sex has always existed, but it had controlled availability; with technology the limitations are being chipped away and we see people going into overdrive with it. The same thing is happening with an unfettered access to sex partners. People are gorging and developing a form of psychosexual obesity.

"Pizza and Sex.

Sex and Pizza. They're two wonderful things that are pretty good even when they're not that great."

- Jeremy Glass

Thirsty Framed.jpg

Artist Talk:

'Thirsty'

Natalie Wong, Thirsty, 2020

Screenprint on Hahnemühle 308gsm paper

Unframed 20" x 20" (50.8cm x 50.8cm)

Framed 21-11/64" x 21-11/64" (53.8cm x 53.8cm)

Limited Edition of 20

Thirsty' subverts the iconic McDonald's logo and slogan by replacing it with the bumble app logo and the words: 'I'm lustin' it'.

Natalie Wong, Matrimony and Sleaze, 2020

Screenprint on Hahnemühle 308gsm paper

Unframed 20" x 20" (50.8cm x 50.8cm)

Framed 21-11/64" x 21-11/64" (53.8cm x 53.8cm)

Limited Edition of 20

The words ‘Matrimony and Sleaze’ is a word-play substitute for the famous fast food name on the blue box. An eggplant emoji, a common symbol used in online chats about sex and male genitalia replaces the traditional macaroni shape on the front. 

Although an oft-cited benefit of dating apps is the access to a greater number of dating options - in reality, this benefit also has negative side-effects. With infinite match options, individuals cannot decide who to talk to and when they do decide, they may be less satisfied with their choices. There is a hidden illusion of abundance. It can be argued that apps do not deliver relationships but rather the sensation that there is a possibility of one.

Kraft Heinz is a billion dollar company and the decision to present artwork referencing one of their iconic products also implies the commodification and capital enterprise behind the dating app apparatus. Unique to this artwork, pricing is included (similar to some packaging on Kraft’s Mac and Cheese products).

On many apps, subscription add-ons provide participants with better choices, more matches and a potentially better dating experience which is charged at a premium. As a business model, the core aim of dating apps is to encourage more people to pay for their services and to keep returning to their app.

But, if a company’s goal is to convert individuals from being free users to paying subscribers, are its algorithms really designed in their best interest?

Ultimately, there is a fundamental conflict of interest between

the user and the designer of the app.

'Swipe Fresh' plays on Subway’s ‘Eat Fresh’ slogan which helped promote the idea of being a healthy alternative and aligning the brand with growing consumer interest in the transparency of ingredients.

 

Whilst there is a developed understanding for healthy eating, the artwork explores the common situation where most dating app users felt a noticeable lack of transparency from the people they met with. It is ironic that society has more transparency in the food we consume than with the people we invite to share our lives with.

Natalie Wong, Swipe Fresh, 2020

Screenprint on Hahnemühle 308gsm paper

Unframed 20" x 20" (50.8cm x 50.8cm)

Framed 21-11/64" x 21-11/64" (53.8cm x 53.8cm)

Limited Edition of 20

In ‘Swipe Fresh’, the usual condiments found in a standard sandwich are replaced by unusual items - the sliced tomatoes are replaced with condoms; the lettuce with money; the red onion slices with tinder logos and the meat with female contraceptive pill packets. The cheese and ham slices could be seen as intended or as discarded bits of clothing. This image evokes the idea that app dating is a predominantly sex-orientated facilitator that relies on individuals to spend money to consume and satisfy their needs.

I don't want to taco' bout it framed.jpg

Natalie Wong, I Don't Want To Taco 'Bout It, 2020

Screenprint on Hahnemühle 308gsm paper

Unframed 20" x 20" (50.8cm x 50.8cm)

Framed 21-11/64" x 21-11/64" (53.8cm x 53.8cm)

Limited Edition of 20

Artist Talk:

'I Don't Want to Taco 'Bout It'

Natalie Wong, Taste The Feeling, 2020

Screenprint on Hahnemühle 308gsm paper

Unframed 20" x 20" (50.8cm x 50.8cm)

Framed 21-11/64" x 21-11/64" (53.8cm x 53.8cm)

Limited Edition of 20

Similar to ‘Swipe Fresh!’, ‘Taste the Feeling!’ is a direct reference to Coca-Cola’s 2016 campaign which aimed to combat the trend of declining soft drink sales following consumers’ health concerns about sugary drinks. The slogan was based on a core message: “The simple pleasure of drinking Coca-Cola makes the moment more special.”

 

Unlike the other works in the series, this artwork intentionally omits any visual reference to any one particular dating app. This was done to highlight the idea that its critique applies to the dating app industry in general. Coca-Cola’s label is used as the focus point to demonstrate the negative side-effects many experience whilst dating online. Labels in themselves are a construct within romantic relationships as they are used to define where each person is in the relationship, their expectations and desires. 

The words in this artwork are direct statements as to the undesirable consequences both genders may experience and encourages the viewer to question whether the hours spent swiping is inherently a valuable use of time and a beneficial experience in the long term.

 

'Taste the Feeling!' poses further questions. Namely, if individuals are fatigued by apps, or have unfulfilling experiences on them — should they stop swiping if it makes them unhappy or do they keep trying it?

 

If people are discouraged when they use apps, the question is: is it technology’s fault, or is it ours? Are dating apps mentally draining because of integral issues with the apps? Or, is it because dating has always been an exhausting enterprise?

"[Dating Apps] are like Deliveroo for satisfying your sexual appetites, so much so that ever increasing numbers of us now are staying celibate while spending more time with our mates as the the most desirable thing on the menu - as far as our souls are concerned."

- Emily Hill, Evening Standard 

If there are core problems with dating apps, perhaps
it is this: apps enable our culture’s worst desires for efficiency in a space where individuals most need to resist those impulses. Dating apps have commodified love and romance like never before and have supercharged lust on a mass industrial scale.
Apps have produced ready-made packets of romantic connections that feel good at first, but
may give you long-term heart problems later.
But, like anything, always remember to read the label.

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