Contiguity, by Pin (Tian) Liu, seeks to use his body as a site of intervention in the maelstrom that is modern technological development. In addition, interrogating its often purported utopic vision for the sole benefit of a singular majority; who are both the authors and target users of said innovation.
Liu’s work deals with the intersection of technology and human experiences. Combining queer theory as a form of questioning power structures and erroneous assumptions about the trajectory of technology and its assistance in retaining methods of control.
Using Grindr as a (queer) example, Liu unravels our online avatars into haptic feedback, what was once bits and bytes of data becomes a sensory experience. The 500 nearest profiles seen on Grindr via a flat interface are manifested for the wearer to interact with. Users’ bodies, once compressed within clearly defined types (average, large, muscular, etc.) are released from such pre-determined divisions into a fluid comprehension of personhood. The author reflects on the experience with Contiguity:
“It touched me in a way I have never felt before, and the Grindr users around me seem less like horny chatbots represented by their avatars. I can see more of their humanity, our humanities.”
As we plunge deeper into the virtual world controlled by surveillance capitalism, what does it mean for our freedoms? Via Contiguity, we may perhaps for a moment realize the capacity for the disruption of our consumeristic desires from our technological interactions. Grindr’s preformed body ‘types’ act as the point of entrée for such habitual actions, Contiguity seeks to break this cycle.
Each body type corresponds to an air chamber on the armature of Contiguity. These are triggered as Grindr avatars around the user are online and offline, creating unpredictable patterns of interaction with the wearer. The border of the wearer’s body is expanded through the softness and rhythms of the device, creating a sense of togetherness with other users that escapes the pre-set structures of control formed by surveillance capitalism.