‘Pillow Talk – Technology for Awkward Questions’ are four devices to encourage conversations about Sex Education. We are very bad at talking about sex. Technology and sex are already incredibly connected, we rather google our most intimate private questions and concerns than talk to family and friends. Sex education is important because it is fundamentally about how we treat each other in the most vulnerable situations. We are not done learning about sex when we reach adulthood.
Consent is everything. It is also how everything starts. Every flirty gaze, every kiss, every blowjob, every one night stand and every single time we have sex, has to do with consent. People agreeing to something. Consent is the start — but it never stops, it requires people to keep listening, reading in between the lines of what is said and especially of what is not said. This device is symbolising consent: But consent doesn’t necessarily start with a condom, sometimes it doesn’t even get that far or there is no penis involved.
Sex is something very personal. Talking about it means talking about our most private stories And often we are embarrassed to do that. Even if we wish we could talk with others we don’t dare. Until something happens, a news story, a friend talking about a friend at a dinner party and suddenly the topic is out in the open. This device does exactly that. It will say things out loud so we don’t have to. But then it’s out in the world. What happens next? The statements played are real, some by friends, some by strangers. They are not supposed to be ultimate truths but encourage conversations.
Sex always has to do something with expectations. How will it be like, look like? Porn, social media, all project images of what to expect. Machines are, theoretically, neutral, they don’t judge. Something machines are very good at is comparing, analysing. But something it doesn’t understand is gender, sex and sexual preference. For this bot, a Markov chain, fed with erotic stories, porn scripts and sex columns, analyses the relationship between words and sentences and then generates new sentences. They force us to readjust our expectations of what will happen next.
The question no one whats to hear: “How was it for you?” Sex is always performance. And we are afraid of being judged of hearing something we might not want to. The only way to become better at sex, and that meaning not the performance of it but how we interact with people on the most personal level is to talk and listen and answer. And because saying the first word is hard. This is doing it for you. After sex. Maybe even during sex.