“This show is about what it means to feel comforted and uncomfortable at the same time. The paintings, sculpture, and writings speak to my own feelings of painlessness and emptiness by focusing on hyperbolic forms of beauty and the uncanny, the familiar and unfamiliar, and the relationship between kitsch and the sublime.
There is an idea in behavioral psychology... supernormal stimuli. It is an exaggerated version of a stimulus, one eliciting a stronger response than our natural evolutionary response.
Golden Retrievers and Golden Labradors are signifiers of a supernormal stimuli, but there are countless other examples in the world that point to this strange phenomenon... images and materials that are heightened forms of themselves, ridiculous parodies and over the top caricatures.
Are Golden Retrievers and Golden Labradors signifers of anything in particular? Yes: homogeneity, the status quo, predictability of behavior, normalcy, exaggerated forms of cuteness, and an ease of training. Gold.”
The Netflix show 13 Reasons Why:
“Teen suicides spiked with the release of The Netflix show 13 Reasons Why… and on the set of this fictional show (that glamorizes suicide or at the very least visually saturates us with mental illness), therapy dogs were brought in for the actors to play with, on set, every day.
Golden Retriever puppies falling clumsily over the laps of Dylan Minnette, Katherine Langford, and Alisha Boe.
I am not making a moral decree that people or actors shouldn’t have the comforts of a therapy dog, this dog being a breed of dog that has been bred so intensely that they have a 60% chance of getting cancer.
Therapy dogs represent a version of hyperreality, where the specific breed of dog is so far removed from the original “dog” that it no longer represents the version of a dog we think we might know. But even this logic of “the version of a dog we think we might know” can be added to the canon of hyperreality. The idea of a dog that we picture in our head is probably a combination of cartoon, internet based memes, and experience or memory.
What then is a dog?
I am all for artificiality. Give me gemütlichkeit all of the time. I am on board with the guiding force of the id, the pleasure principle.
I just want to know why I choose the exaggerated versions of things instead of the “real” all the time. I have no self control.
I want to live in a world where hunter-gatherers and their hunting companions think they look cute.
I don’t even really like dogs that much, I’m more of a cat person.
I have nothing against the breeds of Golden Retrievers and Golden Labradors, but I am interested in the aspects of signs and signifiers that tell me things about the world.
I think the idea of attaching therapeutic responses to a dog is interesting.
Therapy dogs look at you like you are special, like you just pulled someone out of a burning building. You are their hero, for no reason other than your existence, in this weird, fucked up world we live in.
And what’s so wrong with a pure, unadulterated shot of dopamine and oxytocin?
What’s so bad about a reprieve from grief and depression coming from the affection of a Golden Retriever?”