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Performance art...or love story?
April 30, 2008 8:10 PM   Subscribe

Amber Hawk Swanson was lonely. So, like lonely singles everywhere, she contracted RealDoll.com, "Home of the World's Finest Love Doll," to provide her with some companionship. But she had one special request - that the doll be made to look exactly like her. Nine months later, Amber Doll was born, and the two were married the next day in a Las Vegas ceremony. Amber documents the wedding, and explores the relationship between fantasy and reality, in her film To Have, To Hold, and To Violate, Amber and Doll (5-minute compilation.). (most links nsfw)

Some interviews with Amber:

Current TV (video)
Sex TV Part One and Part Two (also video)
Vocalo.org (audio)
posted by granted (52 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Subtle.
posted by middleclasstool at 8:20 PM on April 30, 2008


Go fuck yourself.
posted by ColdChef at 8:22 PM on April 30, 2008 [12 favorites]


I think I liked the Real Doll made from Kelly Carlson a lot better.
posted by Justinian at 8:24 PM on April 30, 2008


Narcissism 2.0
posted by nola at 8:24 PM on April 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


My real doll doppleganger gets more action than I do.
posted by Dr-Baa at 8:25 PM on April 30, 2008


Okay, she's pretty funny, but that's still a damn pretentious art school project.
posted by yhbc at 8:25 PM on April 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


The 1st and 3rd photographs, especially, in "fantasy and reality" are interesting to me, with the juxtaposition of real person and fake person, because it basically looks like a combination of how a regular person looks in a regular photograph and how a team of a professional model, make-up artists, professional photographers, photoshoppers, etc. try to make us think a real person looks.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:28 PM on April 30, 2008


This reminds me of a current events riff some comedian (can't remember who) did awhile back: "Real Dolls ain't cheap. They're like the old school blow-up dolls, but for the well-to-do perv."
posted by amyms at 8:31 PM on April 30, 2008


This is so much more delightful than the artificial insemination/abortion project.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 9:11 PM on April 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm with yhbc and add to that FAIL!
posted by liza at 9:22 PM on April 30, 2008


I'd hit it.

Not the girl. It.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:28 PM on April 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Anyone wish to compare/contrast to Lars and the Real Girl?
I haven't seen it... but it looks fairly similar.
(except with the whole narcissism thing thrown in)
posted by Tbola at 9:29 PM on April 30, 2008


Oh, and looking at the clip of the wedding reception, with all the people playing along with the art project, trying to be clever... I got an icy fucking spike of anxiety just imagining what it would be like to be trapped in a room with them.

Suddenly, holidays at the in-laws doesn't seem as bad.
posted by Tbola at 9:33 PM on April 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


Wow, video of pseudo-lesbian narcissistic woman/doll-doppelgänger faux marriage is exactly as boring as video of plain old boring ordinary marriages. Not so many takers for the roller skating, huh?

I have to admit though, the sort of manic alacrity with which men sought to molest that doll is, ugh, I don't know, but I don't think it says anything very flattering about the male psyche.

This vaguely reminds me of that dude from nerve who made a mold of his own junk and had some dom do him with it as a strap-on (NSFW, duh). So does she actually fuck the doll?
posted by nanojath at 9:40 PM on April 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Amber Hawk Swanson was lonely. So, like lonely singles everywhere, she was faced with the option of either doing something to climb out of her hole, or digging in deeper.

"It was at that point that I came up with my new art project" said Amber. "I decided to call it 'I Wonder How Far It Is To China, Anyway?'"
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:08 PM on April 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


Didn't we do this already? Or was it bb ,,, 10 or 11 months ago? More?
posted by porpoise at 10:19 PM on April 30, 2008


Oh, and looking at the clip of the wedding reception, with all the people playing along with the art project, trying to be clever...

"You just don't get it man - it's like, the *real* f---toy is the *audience*..." *takes drag on filterless French cigarette*
posted by kid ichorous at 10:25 PM on April 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


what a sparkling collection of glittering assholes!
posted by CitizenD at 10:39 PM on April 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


This was kind of amusing, but at the same time kinda schlocky. I much preferred the documentary that was posted here a while ago about actual real doll owners. The words "lonely" and "relationship" pop up in the articles about this project, but really all I'm seeing is attention seeking, narcissism, and sexualization; it's all very superficial and jokey really, it lacks the pathos that the documentary captured. I mean, contrast how lewdly the doll is treated here in comparison to the people who owned one for real. I agree with TheOnlyCoolTim that the comparison shots are fascinating, but as a whole I think this project says more about the artist and her treatment of the subject mater than it does about sex dolls themselves. I mean, come on, recreating famous movie rape scenes with your doppelgänger real doll is kind of tacky.
posted by CheshireCat at 10:44 PM on April 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I liked that a lot more than I thought I would. Apparently, my opinion of the project is in the minority here, but opinions on art (particularly of a non-traditional sort) are bound to be varied. If she had done the exact same project, but created the doll out of Lego (or Legos, if you prefer), I'm sure that the Metafilter crowd would have nothing but praise for it.

Speaking of which, I once sculpted a Real Doll out of Lego for my own use. As with most things in my life, what I initially imagined would be sexy and exciting turned out to be painful and humiliating. Lesson learned.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 10:47 PM on April 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


Ya know, we all have to ask ourselves that question that none of us really want to answer: if I could clone myself...would I fuck myself? And finally, after much soul searching I found the answer: yes. But, I wouldn't photograph it. jeez!
posted by The Light Fantastic at 10:56 PM on April 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


Didn't we do this already? Or was it bb ,,, 10 or 11 months ago? More?

There were two photography posts, not long after each other & not more than sex - heh, freudian typo - six months ago, where the subjects were photoshopped into romantic/sexy situations & positions with themselves.

Unfortunately, the photography tag is heavily used here. Anybody else want to try searching?
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:05 PM on April 30, 2008


Me-Harmony.com? google-fu fail, cannot find video
posted by hypersloth at 11:25 PM on April 30, 2008


The only way this project would be even remotely interesting would involve the artist preserving the doll and dragging it out once a year for a joint photograph. Dorian Grey in action and would be at least slightly poignant.
posted by pandaharma at 11:35 PM on April 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


Anyone wish to compare/contrast to Lars and the Real Girl?

Lars and the Real Girl was great. A sad, tender, moving exploration of mental illness and the nature of family.

This, in contrast, is yet another weak-assed performance artist in search of a gimmick.

I have to admit though, the sort of manic alacrity with which men sought to molest that doll is, ugh, I don't know, but I don't think it says anything very flattering about the male psyche.

The doll is a sex object. Surely it's not unreasonable to treat a sex object as a sex object?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:42 PM on April 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Stupid.

But funny.

But stupid.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 11:46 PM on April 30, 2008


The doll is a sex object. Surely it's not unreasonable to treat a sex object as a sex object?

Dolls can apparently be seen as individuals in their own right, not only as sexual playthings for guys. I know it sounds strange, but that's what I've heard from some freethinkin' cat who lives round near my pad.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:50 PM on April 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


What a moran. Accurately replicating even the smallest trace of an human being - created in God's image and endowed with complex rationality - is simply impossible for sinful fools such as we.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 5:09 AM on May 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Lars and the Real Girl was great. A sad, tender, moving exploration of mental illness and the nature of family.
I agree. I thought it was a wonderful touching movie.

This, in contrast, is yet another weak-assed performance artist in search of a gimmick.
Again I'm in agreement.

The doll is a sex object. Surely it's not unreasonable to treat a sex object as a sex object?
Here we differ Peter. Can we not take as one of the messages from Lars and the Real Girl is that a Real Doll can transcend it's designed purpose and become more than a mere sex object when taken out of context. Perhaps my views on the behaviour of some of the male guests at the 'wedding' have been coloured by having only just seen Lars and the Real Girl a week or so ago, but I think the molesting of the Amber doll is a little inappropriate. But then given the nature of some of the other photos perhaps Amber Hawk Swanson was encouraging said behaviour.
posted by electricinca at 6:41 AM on May 1, 2008


On the plus side, at least she can't get the doll pregnant over and over and smear the miscarriages on canvas.
posted by briank at 6:48 AM on May 1, 2008


In a few years she can turn it into a lamp or something. Maybe a coffee table. Put the doll on all fours and stick a piece of plate glass on top.
posted by jquinby at 7:20 AM on May 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I very much enjoyed Lars and the Real Girl. None of the acting was overdone, it highlighted some of the family issues without smashing you over the head with them, and it was even funny sometimes.

The art project smashes you over the head with things.
posted by craven_morhead at 8:20 AM on May 1, 2008


The art project smashes you over the head with things.

I think I just got an idea for my gallery exhibit; Blunt Force Trauma: where the patrons are the project.

I'm going to need some waivers.

And some plastic sheeting.
posted by quin at 8:37 AM on May 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


the quidnunc kid writes "What a moran. Accurately replicating even the smallest trace of an human being - created in God's image and endowed with complex rationality - is simply impossible for sinful fools such as we."

Does that apply to paintings, photographs, sculpture?
posted by krinklyfig at 8:58 AM on May 1, 2008


Perchance the quidnunc kid was being facetious?
posted by asok at 9:16 AM on May 1, 2008


In a few years she can turn it into a lamp or something.

That's not a lamp. That's a major award!
posted by Elsa at 9:47 AM on May 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Does that apply to paintings, photographs, sculpture?

Or MeFi comments?
posted by the quidnunc kid at 9:53 AM on May 1, 2008


the quidnunc kid makes the whole art project sexier by pointing out the religious edge. sadly, it isn't perfect...if the sculptor of the realdoll broke in to the woman's house, then fucked her realdoll and didn't clean up, it would be an inversion of the jesus mythos, where the female figure, rather than experience immaculate conception, is filled with the creators very physical ejaculate but is barren and lifeless.
posted by fuq at 9:56 AM on May 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


You just know the island of Narcissus is going to sue.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:33 AM on May 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


A lamp or something.
posted by craven_morhead at 10:36 AM on May 1, 2008


Am I the only one who's most fascinated by the fact that the doll doesn't actually look anything like her? It's a bad comic book artist's wet dream idealized version, not actually a representation of her, physically.

I can't help seeing this as more of an exploration of people's own self-image and body image than anything else. Does she think she actually looks like that?
posted by Aversion Therapy at 11:25 AM on May 1, 2008


I didn't want to be rude or anything but, yeah, the doll's body is obviously modeled after someone weighing like fifty pounds less than the artist. I suspect that Real Doll will make custom faces but it would be prohibitively expensive to have a custom body made, so they just stuck her head on a pre-existing Real Doll body.
posted by Justinian at 11:43 AM on May 1, 2008


From the Chicago Reader article:

Last July 4, after several weeks of negotiation, Swanson put $6,000 down on a doll that would be four inches shorter than her, with a waist six inches smaller, but have a face identical to her own. (A full body replica would’ve doubled the cost.)
posted by granted at 11:44 AM on May 1, 2008


This threads cries out for the batshitinsane tag.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 1:21 PM on May 1, 2008


I like her name. It's like she's a porn-star-super-hero from Jurassic Park with TV dinner powers.
posted by xod at 2:24 PM on May 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


How Green Was My Uncanny Valley.
posted by rdone at 3:40 PM on May 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: smashes you over the head with things.

As for attraction, we commonly gravitate to those who resemble our own characteristics.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 5:19 PM on May 1, 2008


Can we not take as one of the messages from Lars and the Real Girl is that a Real Doll can transcend it's designed purpose and become more than a mere sex object when taken out of context.

We can if we're insane, like Lars was. Otherwise, not so much, IMO. While I'm happy to concede that men are low, low creatures, with extraordinarily base urges, the doll really doesn't care whether we indulge them or not.

And if the doll doesn't object, why would anyone else?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:21 PM on May 1, 2008


While I'm happy to concede that men are low, low creatures, with extraordinarily base urges

As a masculist, I demand you retract that. You'd never tolerate anybody saying similar things about women, and nor would many other users here.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:58 PM on May 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Can we not take as one of the messages from Lars and the Real Girl is that a Real Doll can transcend it's designed purpose and become more than a mere sex object when taken out of context.

Sure, take it out of context and make it into a coffe table, as suggested above). But in context it is a sex object! That is what it is, and that's what it's made for. Really, I wasn't surprised one damn bit to see that thing fondled, because that's what it is for!
posted by P.o.B. at 6:09 PM on May 1, 2008


There were two photography posts, not long after each other & not more than sex - heh, freudian typo - six months ago, where the subjects were photoshopped into romantic/sexy situations & positions with themselves.

Unfortunately, the photography tag is heavily used here. Anybody else want to try searching?


I've managed to find this post; the original links are not in great shape, now, but this one will take you to the works.

I feel like there was another by a photography, using only herself as the model for a series of pictures, but I'm not finding it.
posted by cortex at 6:36 PM on May 1, 2008


Ms. Swanson treats objects like women, man!

if I could clone myself...would I fuck myself?

Not a chance. I'm so out of my league.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:04 AM on May 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


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