Given the explosion in popularity of doing-it-yourself, it’s surprising that so few hacks and mods are devoted to the greatest form of doing it ever: sex. But an exhibition that opened earlier this month at the Museum of Sex, “Sex Machines: Photographs and Interviews by Timothy Archibald,” shows that there is an active community of sex toy hobbyists. The dildonics on display are not intended as artwork. The function comes first, and any design that results is coincidental. Most — but not all — lack the ironic message that pervades so much modern artwork. As a result, these inventions resemble a kind of folk art sculpted from the Home Depot palette.
After the jump: an interview with Archibald, and a gallery of his NSFW photos.
Marlon Reynolds’ “Prototype Machine”
GIZMODO: How did you become interested in DIY sex machines?
TA: I had always been interested in independent inventors, people who were not associated with a university or a commercial enterprise. While doing the research for a photo story on that, I came across a listserv where people who were inventors of sex machines were sharing tips and talking about problems they had overcome with their inventions. And they also had photographs of their machines on that site that they shared with each other. When I saw those, it was this combination of human phallus with stuff that looks like it came out of a high school shop class. All mechanical, hard components. The project that evolved out of that was a look at the people who are making the machines. The machines are fascinating, but the people s stories are what made it cohesive, more of a human experience.
GIZMODO: Is the fetish in the making of the machine or the machine itself?
TA: These are tinkerers, people who like to mess with all things mechanical. And they have a sense of creative invention — they are proud of these things when they create them. But also they think about sex a lot and this is what resulted from that combination. It s not just a sculptural thing. They are making it for a purpose. A number of them are married, they are making it to try and introduce something to their wives. Some may be using it to attract women — or they think it might attract women. And for some of them it s a business. But they are not part of a scene, like a sexual scene. It s more that they got the idea independently that this is something they wanted to make, they wanted to have.
James and Allisa’s Second Machine” (Timothy Archibald)