The media I am using for my research is Blind Date. Blind Date is a British TV dating game show that started in the eighties until the early noughties. It is hosted by an iconic female Scouse named Cilla Black, who died in 2015. She is known for her cheesy one-liners on the show and she was one of the most highly paid presenters on TV. The show introduces three heterosexual singletons of the same sex to the audience. Cilla Black asks them with exclamation, “What’s your name and where do you come from?” Each contestant describes himself or herself in a desirable way, paying particularly attention to physical assets. One contestant in the example shown is a female wearing a tight golden mini-dress. She performs a catwalk impression exposing her long slender legs to the audience (her occupation is model). They are asked three questions by someone of the opposite sex which they can only hear and not see. In the example Jamie (single male) asks provocative questions allowing the girls to follow with suggestive and cheesy responses in order to persuade Jamie to pick them for the date. Jamie is only nineteen years old and referred to by the host as a “baby”. After three questions the singleton can chose one of three to go on the date. The losing contestants are revealed to the singleton and then shown their chosen partner. They are congratulated and rewarded with a mini-break or a holiday together. Once they return from their trip the couple must return to the show to give feedback on how the date went.
My fixation with these shows stemmed from the quantity of dating shows I have been exposed to in Britain since I was a child. Once seeing a handful of shows I was intrigued to search for more and this is where the fascination began. Today’s dating shows appear more serious in terms of the contestant finding a partner compared with Blind Date’s format. A point of research is how interactions have changed between these years. Science and algorithms are now used to predict people’s compatibility. There has been a shift from the game show format to real life match making. My interest is specifically British programs such as First Dates, Dating in the Dark, Naked Attraction and Married at First Sight all programs that are currently broadcasted in the UK. What I enjoy about the British shows is the humour and how I relate to these characters. These newer programs are not game shows but reality TV. This will lead me on to my next point of research Better Living Through Reality TV by Laurie Ouellette and James Hay.
The text I am using for my research is Unbearable Weight by Susan Bordo, 1993. The book is about Feminism in relation to the female body in Western culture. The book begins with a poem by Delmore Schwartz called the Heavy Bear. So far as I have read the book contains many examples of how the female body had been stereotyped and discussed in philosophy. Key examples that have stood out for me are: How to be Feminine and how the female body is compared to plants (passive) and the male to animals (active). There is a lot about the separation of the body to the spirit and mind and how the body gets in the way. Bordo discusses things that affect everyone who has body with a tendency toward feminist discourse. Some key topics are, temptation, guilt, shame, self-love/hatred, diseases, which affect the mind and body such as anorexia and bulimia and desire. A lot of what is discussed in the book relates to primal instincts of humans. Extreme feminist activists have used starvation, paralysis and muteness as a way of drawing attention to the discourse. I am interested in the relationship between control and destruction within these issues raised.
I think many of the ideas and themes in the book are visible in my own work. I am interested in unpacking emotional baggage, which can be seen as destructive, or inhibiting to life and work. As I work a lot from a personal female perspective, I often find myself looking toward feminist discourse with anxieties and insecurities about my own body and mind. I use an inner voice to express a neuroticism or angst in relation to guilt versus pleasure and in conflicting dialogue. This text interests me as it gives lots of examples of texts from other feminist perspectives and I am able to visualise some of it into imagery or spoken word through my own art making, predominantly video works. I am using transcripts from male and female perspectives to look at patterns in speech and also writing my texts from a personal or inner voice. I often record spoken word and then transcribe it into text, so me often it’s spoken before it’s written.
The artwork that interests me is video work by Heather Phillipson and in particular related to this research a work called Commiserations. She makes extensive and dense works with layers of photographic and animated visuals, text with a dense voice over and often found music. She speaks about Nature, Death, Love, Animals, Humans, Feelings and much more. I like her overwhelming emotional confessional position in the work and this is where I see some similarities to my own work. Although visually our works are very different and I think I always approach my work very differently from her I believe we have a lot of similar themes running throughout. In particular, the use of the voice in her work is something I am very interested in and that I work with myself. She is poetic in her language and captivating in her voice. There is also repetition that enhances certain parts of the text. She uses popular music in Commiserations such as Fleetwood Mac/Phil Philips - Sea of Love, Usher - Let Me Love You, Sister Sledge - He’s the Greatest Dancer. She talks about being trapped within feelings, which I empathise with and I’m sure many people also do. I like the way people can empathise with her work. There’s relatable personal elements that open her work to wide audience and makes it so successful. There is a roughness to her video making and editing which I think also features in my own work. There’s a sense of urgency to get material out there rather than to perfect its visual qualities.