Intimacy, longing and the internet with Molly Soda
Last spring we published a story with a lighthearted headline: “It’s Molly Soda’s internet, we just live in it.” Since then, we’ve gained a new level of understanding and respect for Soda and her commitment to her work. This time we talked about how social media allows us to indulge in our fantasies and how to support digital artists.
What was the first online community you felt connected to?
Neopets! I was all over that website when I was a tween—it’s how I first started interacting with strangers online, how I became acquainted with the idea of “fame” or “success” digitally and how I learned HTML. I ran a guild called “Faerie Fingers” that was quite popular, in my eyes at the time, and even created an offshoot website for it.
We’ve heard people vocalize for this issue that there really isn’t and shouldn’t be a feminist aesthetic. Do you see a feminist aesthetic?
There is no feminist aesthetic. There is however, a “feminist” aesthetic popularized and propagated by mainstream media in order to sell copies or get more clicks. Feminism isn’t a trend, but it can often feel that way with how news sources choose to portray their subjects and give light to some artists while keeping others in the shadows.
How has your visual style changed or evolved since you first started?
My visual aesthetic is always evolving, obviously there are themes present in all of my work—it all makes sense together, but it would get old if I was just doing the same thing over and over again.
How has NewHive influenced your work?
It’s made the turn around on getting new work out a lot faster. NewHive has made everything so much more fluid and more intuitive for me. As a digital artist, it provides a “canvas” for me that feels natural and allows me to work through a lot of ideas without necessarily feeling so binding.
We’re super excited about your Karaoke project and loved your recent Valentine’s Day project. The last time we talked to you we discussed your views on celibacy, romance and sex.How do you see these themes in your work lately?
I’m always searching for intimacy and my work reflects that longing—something that we all tap into a little bit when we go online or use our devices. There’s a piece of a poem in my karaoke project that says, “I’m constantly thinking of ways to be closer to you, but all I have is my phone.”
We are also talking to Signe Pierce in this issue and love that she tweeted this recently: “We need a term for the modern phenomena where people fall in love with the idealized versions of others based on their social media presence.” What is that like for you?
Social media allows us to indulge in our fantasies to new degrees. Having a crush on someone, to me, has always been a form of projection. You’re projecting these thoughts onto a person who perhaps shares some of the qualities you want in a partner, but you’re never getting the full story. The internet just intensifies this. I recognize that as “honest” as I am online, I’m still creating an image of myself that I want the world to see. We all are. It’s good to check in with yourself and make sure that we’re aware of it before we fall too hard.
I just recently did a piece titled Mutual Projection for Breezeway Gallery at Indiana University, in which I printed out a 900+ page text conversation between me and my romantic interest I had only met once at a bar. We carried on our budding “relationship” via text for a month and a half before seeing each other again in person, and boy did that really give me some insight into my own ability to really idealize and project onto someone I essentially barely knew.
Are there any ideas that you have recently encountered that you would like to explore more in the future?
I keep thinking about the internet as a bunch of tiny cities—how communities are formed and how people create spaces for themselves online that they perhaps can’t create in real life. There’s still a lot of fleshing out I need to do, but I’ve been very interested in translating these online cityscapes into a bigger body of work.
How can more people or organizations support artists like you?
Buy art. Commission artists. Pay them an appropriate amount and in a timely manner. Just because something isn’t physical does not mean it doesn’t have value.