Amanda Turner Pohan’s The Signals Are Caressing Us: A Circular Formula

by Lara Saget

TurnerPohanAmanda Turner Pohan. The Signals Are Caressing Us. Digital Image. aphenomenologicaldomai. aphenomenologicaldomain, 2015. Web. 29 Jan 2015.

Amanda Turner Pohan circularly transforms the ontological into the digital and the digital into the phenomenological. Her installation The Signals Are Caressing Us, recently on view at A.I.R. Gallery, makes manifest the space where biology and technology meet. The installation itself is comprised of multiple elements. Upon entrance, the viewer immediately becomes aware of the walls themselves. 

The lower portion of the gallery walls are painted gray. On top of these gray walls sits vinyl text, applied intentionally yet in a disorienting manner throughout the space. A small rectangular gray carpet is laid out on the ground, creating a division between two striking elements—a large jar and a life-size sculpture. The large jar is filled with a milky self-dividing liquid; the opaque, off-white liquid has found its home at the bottom of the jar while the yellow portion of the potion surfaces to the top.

Red specks float curiously on the surface of the enigmatic concoction. The jar is left open to leave room for a tube, which connects to a gray box on the gray wall. The life-size sculpture lies on the ground, formally angular while implicitly figurative. The last element that the viewer must reconcile with is a strange olfactory conundrum. A muted perfume travels through the air, further interfusing the environment.

All of these components are structurally informed by Pohan’s own physiology. The shape of the white sculpture and the formula for the liquid within the jar (deemed perfume by Pohan) are derived from recorded data of the CO2 Pohan exhaled during orgasm. 

Pohan’s life-size sculpture, Orgasmic Exhalation Form #01, is a white-resin sculpture. To create this piece, Pohan uploaded her CO2 emission data to 3D-modeling software and printed it with a computer-numerical-control (CNC) router. The form itself was not rendered by hand; however, the shape is a product of human experience. 

Pohan’s perfume, Orgasmic Exhalation Device for Body Spray #11, contains a liquid compositionally derived from sensors that measured the COexhaled by Pohan during orgasm.  The perfume vaporizes hourly, diffusing through the gray box on the gray wall, filling the air, and landing. The small rectangular gray carpet is designed to collect the mist of perfume, yet again using a measurement to substantiate the experiential. Through this formula, Pohan technologically produces physical manifestations of her personal heightened experience.

Notes from the Google Doc, the vinyl text dispersed throughout the space, is the product of a shared Google doc conversation between four lovers typing simultaneously. Pohan uses physical letters to take the jumbled cyber-text out of the virtual cloud and onto the physical wall.

Through The Signals Are Caressing Us, Pohan cleverly manipulates the physical into the digital and the digital back into the physical. She constructs a circular formula—the installation perpetually returns to a desire to capture something ecstatic so that, for the viewer, the salience of experience can emerge.

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