It’s the usual story, married for years, the passion has gone and everything seems mundane and routine. After years of going through the motions, your desire for that spark of excitement gets the better of you. You’ve often heard of websites specializing in discreet, no-strings-attached extramarital affairs but never tried one, so you log on and after few exchanges you’re interacting a liking the sound of Dee, a charming young artist. Finally you agreed on meeting – tonight.
And so it begins.
So there you are, willing, able and waiting at the agreed rendez-vous, a café.
Both scared and excited you order a coffee and casually scan the room, waiting and attempting to look like the leading man in some Hollywood flick – cool, calm and more hopeful than anxious your eyes are trained on the café entrance. You’ve arrived early in order to see assess your prize long before she sees you and having only encountered her virtually online, you’re almost assured of what you’ll get.
Twenty-minutes on, you drink the last sip of warm coffee, and casually glance at your watch – she’s already more than fashionably late – women are never on time. As 20 minutes turn to half-an-hour and you’ve have drained your cup, you figure that she’s lost despite the fact that she chose the place.
The doubt creeps in as you debate the merrits of another cup of coffee. Maybe she sent sent a message? So you check your ‘other’ phone just in case. Nothing.
You’re getting slighly annoyed. You scan the café, the faces around you continue to change and with the exception of the staff, fixtures and fittings you are the only constant. You try to call but it goes to voicemail. You reluctantly leave a message: “Hi Dee, this is John, I’m waiting as agreed in the café, call me back.…. please”.
One hour later you are still waiting. You debate a second phone call but opt for a text message instead. Words can’t describe how you really feel but a scathing jumble of words delivered in 200-odd characters will have to do. They are only slightly representative of the pent-up frustration, red-faced anger and air of humiliation that sweeps over you. Your last and parting shot is the second voicemail message is curt and brief: “You could have had the decency to cancel but I hope you’re having fun, whoever you’re with.”
As you storm out you think ,if only she could see you now…
She can. Observation is the name of the game in the social science-based art project undertaken by our artist Debra Singh. It has formed the basis of much of research and creative output both digitally using the iPad and traditionally on canvas. Being there, in the café, to observe this desperate scene of not-so innocent fun and betrayal, and sketch the emotional process this show us the “subtle shifts and cracks, often overlooked, in the demise of intimacy in relationships between couples”. An established artist in her own right her work has included the online-dating inspired piece Chatroom.