<- Internet Studio

Lemme Be Your Brown Sugar Baby by Arin Hayes

My project is an exploration of why people join the site Seeking Arrangement to develop a “sugar relationship” with other people when they can just find a significant other, friend, mentor, or whatever in real life, and not have to tie them into giving money. The project is also an exploration of self and projected self on a site that really blurs the lines between taboo boundaries, and my own personal lines of comfortability. But that becomes more complicated because of my perceived identity, aka my race; and because I am constantly going between the “true” me and the sugar baby version of myself. I am constantly having to really decide if I want to play a more dominant and/or subservient role. Of course it depends on person, but that is what this project is about: constant calibration and evolution of the presented self.

Logistically, I am recording all my interactions that take place on the site via screen capture and Photo Booth on my computer. I want to document the process in a hopefully organic way that is interesting. However, that aspect is a performance as well. It is a performance of my “true” self. Interestingly enough, “Boomerang” by Richard Serra featuring Nancy Holt, also performed by Marisa Olson really resonates with me in this sense. In the piece, Holt’s words are fed to her via headphones with a one second delay. Throughout the piece, her words become and and more disassociated from their actual purpose until she describes them as “things.” Just as their piece creates distance from the words, and their owner, this piece is creating distance between my “true” self and my sugar baby presented work. It’s a constant conversation with myself. It is also parallel to Petra Cortright’s famous piece, “vvebcam” where she is interacting with her webcam. However, I am not able to see myself as I am doing it so that there is as little vanity and artifice as possible. However, there are other kind of interactions with the screen in terms of text to explain the feelings of my “true” self as the viewer watches the constant creation of my presented self.

This project has already evolved so much from it simply being about these people, to it also being about myself. It is this weird dynamic where I am trying to tap into what others see in me so that I can pander to their expectations of me. While all of us do this to a certain extent, I’d like to think that I am “myself” as much as possible. And that is what made this process so difficult for me initially. But I have since let that go. Part of that has been realizing that it is not really me, but in a way it is since it is still a version of me. I have let those blocks go and I am genuinely interested in my growth. Another interesting component that that is very interesting is the aspect of these people becoming “real” to me. At what point will I develop some type of feelings for the people I interact with, and when they will register as actual people as opposed to just two dimensional profiles and a project.