ANIMAL’s feature Artist’s Notebook asks artists to show us their original “idea sketch” next to a finished piece. This week, artist Faith Holland talks about a movie scene inspiring her video performances Light Petting and Heavy Petting in which she touches the internet.

The idea for Heavy Petting was conceived about a year ago when my husband and I watched Human Centipede 2 (The Full Sequence). At the time, he was working on a paper about torture porn and this was necessary viewing. Although Human Centipede (First Sequence) is worthwhile for some innovative and gross body horror, the sequel is too campy and fails to recapture the creepiness of the first film. Still, there was a brief moment of the film that instantly struck me as brilliant: the main character, obsessed with the original Human Centipede, watches the film on a computer at his job and lightly grazes the image with his fingers (and then he proceeds to masturbate with sand paper). At the time, I was thinking about sexualized representations of virtual “spaces” compared to the reality of the flat computer screen—spaces that tunnel, invite the user to enter, and ultimately suggest penetrating a vaginal space. This brief moment of ‘Pede 2 was the same thing—he wanted to penetrate through the screen, interact with the flesh behind it. I had to liberate this worthwhile idea from this terrible film.

It wasn’t until this spring, stress at its peak as my fellow MFA students and I were defending our theses, that seeing a livecam stream of a litter of kittens revived the idea and lead me to think of Light Petting. Watching the kittens was fine, a pleasantry while waiting to meet the thesis defense firing squad, but what really I wanted was to pet the kittens. Cats are an important part of my work, and the pussies of Light Petting made a perfect pairing to Heavy Petting. Thus, days after I had successfully defended my thesis, I sat down in our school’s computer lab, shot these videos, and got to pet the pussy cats (among other things). Stress relieved.

Light Petting Heavy Petting NSFW

In Heavy Petting and Light Petting, I touch and interact with the images I’m watching on a computer screen. I violate the idea of the virtual and physically interact with what I’m only supposed to view. The computer screen reacts to my touch, and I cease being a viewer/user and become a participant.

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