Hyunsuh Kim, Ruth Brickland

Media of "Seafoam"

What forms will our aphrodisiacs take?

“The medium is the message” (McLuhan). Such aphorism cannot be truer than for our aphrodisiac. Whether one gently applies lotion onto the body of oneself or their lover(s) as if to caress, or sips a cup of hot tea as part of the whole ritual, deliberately slowing down and thus increasing the anticipation of it all, or simply gulps down a pill before entering the bed, the form in which an aphrodisiac takes greatly affects the arousal level and the mood that it entails. This is part of Mediamatic's "Seafoam" project, in which we make a series of attempts to queer the traditional aphrodisiac.

The most popular aphrodisiacs today are pills or capsules, such as Viagra, or the seahorse pill that Shearer describes. In The Capsular Civilization: On the City in the Age of Fear, de Cauter describes the contemporary metropolitan life that consists of endless movement from capsule to capsule in our everyday routine, from home, to car, to office, to car, and back home. Despite the city being the hotspot of uncountable intersecting lives, people are isolated in their individual capsules. The prominence of online interaction has further accelerated the process of capsularization, in which we fall deeper into our respective rabbit holes of the social media— to argue that we are separated from one another’s island even at a mental level, amounts to saying that we live in different worlds. Furthermore, de Cauter finds the parallel between the hardening of capsules, increasing emphasis on security, and with it the communication of fear against those who may attempt to enter our capsules. In his poem, Shearer himself describes the aphrodisiac capsules as “hearses” as he takes advantage of an auditory tangent from “seahorses”, reminding one of the coldness of death within containment. Even as consuming what would promote love, we reenact the capsular logic of cleanly separating the consumer from the consumed. It is extremely challenging to try to describe love, but a starting point might be to contrast it from concepts of hygiene, containment and fear to the extent that all three are exclusive, isolate individuals and prevent the mingling of and blurring into one another.

We thus imagine our aphrodisiac to take a rather fluid and soft form that readily mixes into the “sea” of the lover, such as liquid that one can imbibe, incense to inhale or lip balm to rub on and taste. Not only the spatial form of the aphrodisiac, but also its temporal form should be considered— is the aphrodisiac meant to bring instant arousal? Or does it call for the appreciation towards the process of taking it, as much as love itself (or the two may not be differentiable after all)? As much as the capsularization of our society is characterized by acceleration (as de Cauter puts it, the very need for a capsule arises from the torrent of stimuli that the city bombards the individuals with, that individuals need to shield themselves from the acceleration), we would like to reclaim the opposite process of deceleration. Love in its most patient and timestaking form. Time can permeate itself through all the processes of the aphrodisiac, from its making to consumption. Regarding the latter (the former is more thoroughly discussed in our other blog post about the processes that such aphrodisiac should involve), it becomes particularly interesting for us to think about ways to elongate the consumption of our aphrodisiac as much as possible, while maintaining the mood for love. Our aphrodisiac shall be an offering of time.


Body fluids in jars -


Henk Wildschut - source

Find more about the crew members of "Seafoam" in Participants of "Seafoam": What ingredients will our aphrodisiac involve? and about how they can get involved in Journeys of “Seafoam”: What processes should our aphrodisiacs go through?

Discover and relish our recipes:


Cauter, Lieven de. “The Capsule and the Network.” The Capsular Civilization: On the City in the Age of Fear, by Lieven de Cauter, NAi Publishers, 2004, pp. 77–89.

McLuhan, Marshall. Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, McGraw Hill, 1964.