New Sentimentality
A Collection of Channels is a series highlighting channels we’re paying attention to on Are.na.
In a 1964 piece in Esquire, David Newman and Robert Benton laid the grounds for what they called a New Sentimentality. In its essence, this phenomenon was an individualization of sentimentality, one that abandoned “common sense” values of patriotism, religion, Mom, The Girl, and instead became about stylish self-indulgence, cynicism, and aloof, cold perfection. “Your primary objective,” they wrote, “is to make your life fit your style.”
In 2012, filmmaker Cécile B. Evans proposed a “2nd Wave of New Sentimentality” as both an extension of Newman and Benton’s principles and a reckless mutation. This evolution, as Evans describes, created a world in which irony is conflated with sincerity, virtuality is the same as reality, and outpourings of emotion on the Internet allow feelings to be commodified by corporations. This collection of channels tracks the weird and wild worlds of shifting emotional landscapes: affective politics, modern loneliness and disingenuity, new modes of relationality, and digitally mediated (or uncannily performed) sentimentality.

Zoe Bachman’s “Intimacy Simulation” elaborates on questions like, Can physical closeness be replicated technologically? Does the internet generate intimacy, or something else entirely?

Édouard U.’s “New Loneliness, New Alienation” compiles research on people reaching into hyperconnected surveillance societies for new, fulfilling, and utopic forms of labor and/as companionship.

Adrian Delafontaine’s “Affective Interfaces” is based on a seminar held at the IT University of Copenhagen this past November. The seminar was part of a larger scholarly project of the same name, an ongoing cross-disciplinary effort to explore “affective modulations effectuated by electronic, digital, and architectural interfaces on a cultural, aesthetic, and political level.”

Casey Gollan’s “Calm Technology” features writing on ubiquitous computing, and the accompanying visual channel “Calm Technologies” takes on a looser, more playful interpretation of the topic—from street signs to “breathing” graphics.

Rachel Rosenfelt’s “Affect Theory and Cybernetics (Staging)” offers an excellent primer for literature on affect, cybernetics, and politics from the likes of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Lauren Berlant, and Silvan Tomkins.

Whether for critical artistic practice or practical implementation, my own “Therapy Bots” documents the possibilities of and concerns surrounding empathetic avatars, robotic therapy animals, and emotionally intelligent AI.

The collaborative channel “Fake Emotions” features campy, cartoony, cinematic, plastic, made-up, hackneyed images in which feelings are fabricated and diagramed for purposes of advertising, meme-ifying, and dramatizing.
Shea Fitzpatrick is an artist who works as a user interface designer. Shea lives, makes, and learns with others in Brooklyn.
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