Pull Out for Eileen Kelly
First things first, what does "Pull Out" mean in the context of technology and sex? Is there some rhetorical significance there?
In the context of sex, “pull out” refers to the contraceptive method many young people use as a replacement for condoms or birth control. In my research experience, mis/undereducation on safer sex practices is the cause of this dangerous alternative that too many from my generation turn to. Therefore, I saw “Pull Out” as a fitting title for a publication aiming to educate millennials on how to be more aware and as a result, hopefully lead safer sex lives. In the context of technology, “pulling out” is a reference to unplugging - from our devices, our phones and computers that constantly demand our attention. When you read a zine, hold a tangible object in your hands, you’re forced to set down your phone for a moment and truly engage with what’s in front of you.
This is your first print project, what prompted you to make that jump?
In this “age of the Internet”, the majority of our lives exist online. Print publications feel increasingly forgotten; there’s an element of mysticism in creating an object that functions outside of our tech-obsessed world. My career is a product of the Internet and social media, so of course I recognize it’s benefits, but I felt inclined to make something separate - a piece I could keep on a bookshelf, for example. It’s 64 pages, so it was definitely a bit ambitious for a first go...but I think it turned out great, and I’m really excited to share it with the world.
So "Pull Out" explores the dynamic of sex and technology. How the evolution of this specific dynamic relate to the larger ways we are re-learning our interactions (platonically, professionally, culturally)? Do they mirror each other? Feed off each other?
I think completely so. Technology influences how we interpret information; in the past, we were forced to interact mainly via phone calls or in person encounters, leaving less room for misinterpretation. With smartphones, we're constantly plugged in and have access to limitless people/communication; the majority of these conversations happen in written form, which forces us to read the “emotions” behind texts, emails, social media comments, et cetera. The human element can be completely lost. We don’t hear their voice, see their mannerisms, understand the emotion underneath the words. So whether romantic or professional, there’s always an ambiguity in our online interactions because of this emotional distance, yet there’s an immediacy granted to us because of technology and a constant ability to “connect” that’s lacking crucial information.
You've curated an impressive set of young talented contributors: Natalie Yang, ONDINE VIÑAO!!, Chella Man, Luke Gilford et al. What was that process like?
Thank you! It was surprisingly organic. I reached out to people I knew (both online and in real life) and asked if they were interested in contributing a piece - it was really a group effort. I think what’s special about this project is that everyone involved was able to run with the prompt in a very personal way. I wanted to see what sex and social media meant to them, to the people living this cultural shift. Everyone has a story to tell, and I am privileged to have this platform, so it was exciting to piece together all these different views/opinions and share them with the greater audience. This project took a while to finish, so big shout out to everyone involved for their patience.
Not that answering anything is the point of art, but after creating and then digesting what have you translated from this piece of work. Where has it left you in the question of sex and technology?
I’m constantly thinking about what’s next…what will social media look like in 5 years? What will our phones look like in 10 years? Who could’ve predicted that we’d be unlocking our phones by holding our face to the screen or have self-driving cars? Things are moving at a rapid pace; I’m excited and nervous to see the effects they have on the way we communicate and relate to one another. I think the porn industry is about to have some major shifts and that’s something I’ll be watching out for. And how many of us are going to tell our kids “mom and dad met on Tinder!”
Tell us about the launch party! What do you have planned?
There’s no better way to celebrate than to dance! I wanted to take the opportunity to gather all the contributors together with my friends and family. This has been such a group effort and I wanted to take a moment to thank and party with all those involved.
Could there be a "Pull Out" Part Two?
Maybe one day! But I’m definitely not rushing into creating another one anytime soon.