Date of Award

Spring 5-10-2023

Author's School

Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts

Author's Department

Graduate School of Art

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Illustration & Visual Culture

Degree Type



In this essay I carry out case studies of and Tinder to unpack the cultural principles underlying the apps that shape our interpersonal relationships today. I demonstrate that these apps are grounded in a fantasy of frictionless-ness, or the desire to shield the self from discomfort caused by external factors, and argue that this is a fraught cultural ideal. My analysis reveals that a fantasy of frictionless-ness gives birth to a cultural landscape of rampant subjectivity and tepid morality, which hampers our ability to form deep and meaningful connections with each other. Recognising the flaws of such a fantasy, I propose that we ground our personal and political pursuits in a desire for collective and holistic progress instead.



Program Chair

John Hendrix