Disgustingly delicious images in the new Nichons Nous
Nichons Nous Dans l’Internet, which translates to ‘abreast of the internet’, is a French magazine exploring the intersection between art and the web. Pieces in issue ten respond to Tinder and trypophobia (the cover is a juicy, horribly raised collection of tiny holes) and there’s a wonderful feature about a bubblegum pink massage chair that has the ability to speak to you. Throughout, there seems to be preoccupation with AI and memes that fascinate us despite, or perhaps because, they are objectively revolting. Small holes are awful, yes, but we somehow cannot stop googling them.
Gwendolyne Rottger, co-art director at Nichons Nous Dans L’Internet, talked us through four disgustingly delicious spreads in the issue.
“Partly inspired by the ultra-sexualised images of women ostensibly busy in the kitchen from the 50s, Yushi Li — who is interviewed here by Stella Ammar — contacted 300 Tinder matches to ask whether she could photograph them nude, while they ate or cooked. Apparently only one guy asked for sex afterwards. The second series, ‘Your Reservation is Confirmed’, she booked men from a modelling agency who she believed were her ‘perfect guys’, and put herself in the picture. It’s so strange to see a woman fully clothed while a man is naked. Although we see half-naked women with normal guys all the time.”
“We touch machines, our phones, all day long but how often do they touch us back? The examples that spring to mind are painful: torture machines, or electric chairs. But a massage chair mechanically touches you and it’s pleasurable. The Full Body Smart Automatic Manipulator pictured has a fleshy body and augmented voice; it asks the user questions about how he or she would like to be touched but then it unexpectedly deviates from those instructions. So this project is about creating a weird relationship with a machine. It’s about how intimate we can get with a machine.”
“For this work, by the artist Coralie Vogelaar, actress Marina Miller Dessau trained all 43 muscles in her face independently, so that she could express every emotion imaginable. An algorithm took all that information and used it to make new faces, which it then analysed to decide what proportion of a given emotion was being expressed at any one time. That’s where the title of the work, “49% happy”, comes from: the machine decided, this person is 49% happy. We see AI as such a threat, culturally, but I love this project because it explores the limit of this intelligence. You can teach the computer to analyse emotion… but these percentages are what it comes out with?”
“This is actually a picture of a mushroom! The photographer Cecilia Poupon deliberately pushed the colour towards a bloodier, more anatomical hue. Other images in the series were pushed towards colours associated with technology, such as blue and purple. It’s an exploration of the concept of network: in nature, you also have networks, so it’s a reflection on digital forms of connection.
We were worried about trypophobia. But the fact that the very awareness of trypophobia has spread enormously precisely because of the internet felt like a very good reason to put it on the cover! It is risky — especially as we put a selective varnish on it to create real holes you can touch if you run your finger across the page. But in the end, the internet is messy. It’s not the structured, ordered thing that Facebook and Google simulate. It’s a place for weirdness to exist. So this cover felt right.”