Investigating the life of things across space and time

The two of you together

Agreeableness. Altruism. Exclusivity. Intellect. Romance.

Drawings by Sarah Gillett

Should I trust an algorithm over my gut?

In 2018 I entered the world of online dating. Quickly I began to see a pattern emerging across my matches; primarily, there were a lot of men stroking big cats. 

I started screen-grabbing profiles of men with exotic animals: hugging dolphins, cuddling pandas, holding alligators’ mouths open, but most were of men touching tigers.

At first the photographs were merely absurd to me but the more I looked into this phenomenon the darker the implications of these photoshoots became. Many of the tigers are drugged; there have been complaints from animal rights organisations about animal exploitation and cruelty. This practice also decreases awareness of just how endangered these animals are in the wild worldwide (there are estimated to be under 3,000 tigers in the wild; but 5,000 – 7,000 owned privately in the USA alone). In 2017 Tinder asked its users to stop posting “tiger selfies” in recognition of these issues.

It didn’t matter what I did. I changed my preferences on age, interests, values, lifestyle but still they appeared. I changed my own profile to remove any mention of wildlife, travel or adventure. No luck. I chatted with the bots on my unhappiness with the matches. ‘Keep trying,’ the bots replied cheerily. ‘Many people have found love on our platform. Try widening your preferences.’ 

Ultimately these pictures projected at best a careless lack of respect for the lives of these beautiful animals. At worst, I made analogies with predatory human behaviour and date rape. The only way to get pussy without violence? Drug them. Choose any point on the scale and the images were a turn off.

This series of drawings depicts some of my matches (and a few wildcards) alongside categories pulled together from a number of different dating platforms. All names and data has been changed.

I think you might like...

A walk in the woods: a blue-legged figure with a dark cloth over their head and body stands against a brick wall with plants growing round it

A walk in the woods (2016)

This conversation between Sarah Gillett and the writer Amy Lay-Pettifer digs deeper into the artist’s relationship with Paolo Uccello’s painting The Hunt in the Forest (1470) and her wider art practice.

Read more »
Flint nodules: photograph of a striated flint pebble with grey, orhange and cream streaks, against a black background

Flint (2017-ongoing)

Flint nodules are trace fossils; positive casts of negative spaces once filled with organic life. In this series of photographs taken in my lap on beaches in Great Britain flint pebbles become asteroids hurtling through space.

Read more »
Plot: White gloved hand holding an open box

Plot

The crowd watches as she walks forward and unthreads a pale rose. Its thornless stem, shaven into meek concave depressions, fits her fingers.

Read more »