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I touch you – you touch me III, 2010

It was the I touch you series that caused Joe Hodway to be thrown off his M.A. at Goldsmiths. According to his tutor it “crossed the line”. In actual fact, Hodway’s tutor never saw anything other than the deep purple aspects of these pieces. He refused to look at them based on the licentious stories he had heard about their content. We leave it for you to judge if this piece is transgressive enough to justify the termination of an artists’ M.A. (Hodway didn’t think so.)

For this series, Hodway devised a paint that would change colour, and eventually disappear in response to human tactile contact. As the surface colour fades, each piece reveals a hidden photographic image of either a male or a female nude spattered with brightly coloured paint. After a short period of time, the colours return to re-obscure the image.

These pieces are a challenge to the viewer. They do not simply ask “Are you comfortable with looking at erotic material?” Most people are – in the privacy of their own home, or when they can subtly peer over the top of their catalogue. Instead these pieces ask “Are you comfortable to be publicly seen engaging with erotic material?” In order to view the hidden images, one must fully commit and touch them for a period of time. They cannot be seen discreetly or passively. They must be physically groped, or pawed at – in a way that all the other visitors in the gallery will witness. This takes the viewer, or more accurately, the participant several levels beyond passive voyeurism. The viewer becomes not just the perpetrator, but the spectacle as well. This series asks us to re-examine our acquired discomfort with who we are, and our innately sexual natures, in relation to perceived societal expectations, and the potential consequences of deviating from them

Hodway had originally sought to use an existing thermochromic paint, however none of the ones available at the time met his specifications. After much experimentation, he eventually created his own.