David Haines

David Haines’ work encompasses painting, drawing and video based on images drawn from the internet. He explores digital habits, behaviours and identities in online communities and on dating platforms. Hid anthropocentric practice focuses on the body and mediated images of the self, queer self-performativity, sexuality and desire. Self Portrait with Cutout and Dating App. Profiles (2018) is a drawing of the artist’s likeness juxt aposed with several screen images of him on tablets. The work, painstakingly executed in fine pencil, suggests different registers of the self and of the real, the physical act of drawing contrasting with the virtual, flat, reflective world of the screen. In a series of paintings, images appropriated from a cam sex site depict bare-chested young men in the solitude of their domestic environs, engaging with their mobile phones, oblivious of the viewer and their surrounds. The claustrophobic feeling of the small rooms they inhabit contrasts sharply with the supposed boundless world of the internet and the escapist wallpaper images that decorate the banal domestic settings. The introverted serene isolation of these paintings is in direct contrast to the hysteric frenzy of the video Dereviled (2013), made from smartphone footage depicting gays and lesbians being “cured of their disease” at American evangelical church services, a disturbing look into the attempted purging of homosexuality. Finally, the video Two Way Mirror (2016/17) explores online queer performativity by journeying through the bedrooms of online ‘chat boys’. As we voyeuristically gaze at a succession of bare torsos, a voiceover narrates parts of lectures given by the philosopher and theologian Alan Watts in the 1960s on the desire and yet impossibility of treating the ego as a physicality. Haines’ work pointedly infers the totalising effect that digital technologies have on the mirroring of the self: how they record us, construct us, present us and even shape our behaviour.

David Haines