On the Scene: What’s Love event goes high tech

otaylor@thestate.com February 10, 2012 

WHERE IS THE LOVE?: The Halo Benders, in their song Magic Carpet Rider,” repeat this phrase: “Love is in everywhere.” Love sounds so delightful.

Love will be everywhere Tuesday, Valentine’s Day. In packed restaurants, flower shops, grocery stores and at 701 Whaley. “What’s Love: Input/Output,” the sixth annual artistic examination of desire, romance and sex — and the misery that sometimes accompanies the aforementioned love-related nouns.

“Input/Output” explores the themes in the technologically enhanced society where people walk around with cellphones glued to their hands. (Who among you spent more time bemoaning Tom Brady’s performance on Twitter from your handset than actually watching the Super Bowl?)

The artistic discourse will enjoy a range: From drunk texts to ex-lovers to bootycall texts to secret lovers to sexting with or without photos. You’ll be able to enter the land of sexting with photos, a place no longer only inhabited by elected officials and people famous for being famous.

“We’ll be providing some material for sexting,” said What’s Love co-founder Lee Ann Kornegay.

About 20 visual artists will participate in the show. There will also be performances by UNBOUND Dance Company and NiA Company, a Dr. Sketchy’s drawing salon and music by Chris Wenner and DJ Goldfinger.

The “What’s Love” theme is technology based, but some of the artists are giving an M.I.A. gesture to technology. Chris and Tanya Orr’s installation will feature a walk-in booth, Kornegay said.

“It’s more of a sensual experience of tasting and touching,” she said. “I’m kind of excited about that, personally.”

Last year’s theme — “Behind Closed Doors” — leaned toward the intimate. Because of social media — Twitter, Facebook and I’ll go ahead and include the online dating sites — a lot of our personal life and love life are out in the open, whether intended or not.

What if there’s a breakup? Then there’s all that untagging and deleting to be done. For some, the result of a breakup is a technology enhanced addition to their lexicon: Facebook Stalking.

Speaking of Facebook, Billy Guess posted an image of two Scotch tape handheld dispensers placed to look like a number associated with a bedroom position. Under the image, the words “Sex Tape.” (It was an image he found on the internet, not something he will have in the show.)

“Billy always comes up with something humorous and sexy and clever,” Kornegay said about Guess. “He always comes up with something interesting.”

The O Room, an upstairs salon hosted by Jasper magazine, will include performances by Shane Silman, short films by Santiago Echeverry and others, as well as poetry and spoken word.

There’s also going to be a peephole (some tried to give it the name of another, more lascivious “hole”) — in the floor.

Artists will be given cash awards in categories such as best installation and best new artist. There will also be awards for sexiest IT Girl and Guy.

You can send roses or offer a box of chocolates and, technically speaking, you’d be fulfilling your Valentine’s Day obligations if you subscribe to convention. Of course whatever you do will be fine because, according to The Halo Benders, love is in everywhere.

“What’s Love,” intended for mature audiences who can appreciate double entendres, will be held at 701 Whaley St. $15 in advance, $20 at the door; www.701whaley.com/special-events.html

SWEATING IT OUT: The Keith Sweat-headlined concert last Friday night at the Colonial Life Arena started late, something that is, unfortunately, commonplace for urban concerts. Mint Condition, scheduled to open the show, didn’t perform at all. Three band members took the stage to tell the crowd that Stokley, the lead singer, would be unable to perform.

Funny, because when the band opened for Prince at the arena in March, there were several technical issues during the performance, if performance is even a fair assessment. I was looking forward to the band’s return, but I again left the arena disappointed. A publicist for Shanachie Records, the band’s label, did not respond to a request for comment.

Ledisi performed a fiery set, which include goading the first two rows for not standing during her performance. That led her to trek through the floor seats, bringing her powerful voice even closer to the audience.

Johnny Gill was supposed to have his own set, but instead he sang a few songs while Sweat took a break. (In 2008, he let Silk perform during his intermission.) Gill and Sweat combined to sing Levert.Sweat.Gill songs – music from the group they formed with the now-deceased Gerald LeVert. LSG songs “Door #1” and “My Body” were highlights of the evening.

Going into the show, I expected to be let down and I was. But Sweat’s inspired, hit-laden performance had me singing long after the house lights were turned out.

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