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This episode about my experiences of intimacy is sponosred by Please go to to try online counseling and learn more about intimacy in your own life. If you're not satisfied with your counselor you can switch easily (SUPER easily) to a new counselor or therapist, and if you're still not into the experience as a whole, BetterHelp can refund the cost.

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EXPERIENCING INTIMACY was filmed with permission from the Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin. Please visit their website: to learn more about the exhibit and the artists whose work I briefly mention.

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At the Science Gallery at Trinity College, Dublin in Ireland, students and staff work for months to create an interactive exhibit entirely focused on intimacy.  My experience of this exhibit began with a rack of spools with big red stickers reading 'please touch'.  The piece's description invited visitors to think about physical contact.  Do I want to get close?  Do I need space?  Whom do I want to touch me and is this semi-public area where I want to be touched?  

Sticker on.  Let's get intimate.  Further down the hall were charts showing algorithms decipher common yet complex intimate moments like greeting a person who comes into your home or apologizing to someone you're harmed.  Another interactive piece supplied the cards and pens to share a missed connection or classified ad.  I am seeking for good conversations over specialty coffee.  Must be able to talk about US politics and listen to me bang on about when I played inter-county hurling.  I am seeking for exploring Ireland and Europe until April, preferably natives with knowledge of real Irish places, friend, and some good craic, that's c-r-a-i-c, craic, which refers to fun, entertainment, and enjoyable conversation.

Perfect for a hello machine like this working one at the intimacy exhibit.  These phones are situated across the globe for people to pick up the receiver and have a spontaneous but maybe intimate conversation with a stranger.  There have been over 20,000 conversations to date.  Do you hear the cat?  This lounging feline robot is called a companion cat.  Joy For All designed it as a wellness product specifically for aging adults.  They simply pet or scratch this low maintenance fur-ball that looks and feels like a cat and it will reciprocate with affectionate cat-like behaviors.  So cute and so clever.

Similarly, these cell phone extensions called kissengers simulate a touch connection.  Slide your phone into one of them and your partners into the other to make out at any distance.  The centers in the "lip-like interace" transmit what you're doing to the other person and vice versa.  

Ahh, technology.  PPLKPR, or people keeper, is especially fascinating to me.  It's an app that uses the heart rate (?~2:01) metric to determine how people make you feel and if you should keep them in your life.  By using a smartwatch, it tracks your physical and emotional responses to whomever you come in contact with.  The keepers it schedules time with in your calendar and then the non-keepers, they extract from your calendar.  

Can you tell what's being displayed here?  Each of these unique sculptures is a 3-D printed kiss.  Magnetic field sensors and patches track the movements of the tongue during a kiss and convert them into tangible art.  I love it so much!  It makes me wonder what my kisses look like and how similar or different they are depending on who I'm kissing and why.

I walked into an enclosed part of the gallery next.  The room was dark and quiet except for a film projected onto the front wall of Ulay and Marina stretching a bow between their bodies with a steel arrow pointed at Marina's heart.  As I stood there listening to small microphones on their clothing pick up changes in their heartbeats and breathing, I was curious.  How did Ulay and Marina negotiate this incredibly artistic BDSM performane?  Does intimacy include an element of risk?  

On the way upstairs to the rest of the exhibit, there was a double layered self-portrait of an artist, one layer made from biodegradable paper that could fade over time and change the appearance of the piece, just like intimacy changes us.  Upstairs, I was enticed by lively music to curl up in a beanbag chair and watch short films curated to evoke intense emotion.  I'll show you some of the footage alongside my reaction to it. 

(video plays music)

Behind me were virtual reality spaces, one where I could experience my mind in someone else's body.  We weren't able to do it, but I can show you some footage of how it works.  One person is fitted with a first-person chest camera that sends video to the headset of another person.  They synchronize their movements so that the person wearing the headset is physically moving their own body but seeing the arms and legs of someone else.  This is further intensified with assistants, who can create a tactile experience.  Who would you pair up with for this?

Another VR experiment placed me in a room with a computer generated woman.  There was a whole backstory about how she was house sitting and I'd just show up.  A survey on the TV asked if I perceived the woman in the room as standing too close, too far, just right, and how I felt personal space changed with the level of intimacy in our relationship.  All I could focus on was whether or not she was safe.  

I talked with one of the exhibit monitors afterward to see if VR was being used to detect behaviors that flagged victimization and/or perpetration.

Next up, a memory box, equipped with nostalgia a widow might want to recreate special moments with a deceased loved one.  A hollow glass dildo able to hold 21 grams of their ashes, an acoustic amplifier to play sentimental music or voice recordings, a container for cologne or perfume, a locket with a key, compartment for keepsakes, and a poison cigarette if the widow wants to "be eternally reunited".  

After Nadim's brother died, he created this installation of photos from the electronic devices he inherited.  Scrolling through them as a visitor definitely felt intimate, even invasive, and I thought to myself, what will happen to all of my data and devices when I die?  

Another table was decorated to look like a currency exchange booth, except instead of dollars for Euros or Euros for pounds, the currency was human relations.  Love, hate, erotic, friend, superficial, fellowship ZoLLaRs.  Trading the good, bad, and fake relationships and putting into question the value of intimacy.

The rest of the exhibit consisted of science questionnaires like this one.  How would you choose a robot flatmate or another one on the aesthetic appeal of city buildings.  How am I feeling?  And then there was a gallery of photographs titled "Hugs".  The artist had taken stills from Islamist propaganda videos of fighters in Iraq and Syria saying goodbye before their suicide attacks.  Heavy.

I chose something lighter to end my time.  At the back of the intimacy exhibit was a workshop space, "For Play".  These ornate pillows, tables, chairs, games, and quizzes.  I buried myself in one for textile intimacy, then got dressed with my partner in a two headed cape, one of many huddlewear options.  It was very intimate to see and hear each other but have our bodies cloaked for mystery and vulnerability.  

When we were finished, my partner and I asked each other a question from the experimental generation of interpersonal closeness.  Answering the questions is believed to create incredible intimacy between people.  Almost always they'll feel better about each other and want to see one another again.

Uh-huh.  Yes indeed.  I experienced a lot of intimacy at the exhibit and I learned what contributes to the experience of intimacy for others.  Touch, pets, hugs, kisses, talking, listening, risk, vulnerability, self, change, something to lose, something to gain, and curiosity.  Stay curious.

This episode of Sexplanations is sponsored by, a really convenient and accessible way to get counseling for your intimacy challenges and goals.  Want more intimacy in your relationship?  Log on to  Looking for ways to express intimacy in addition to or instead of sex?  They have counselors who work specifically with partners.  Fear of intimacy?  Please check out their site.  You don't have to sign up.  Or you can.  Do a trial of the service and then cancel it if it doesn't feel right.  I at least want you to know this resource is available to you and they take good care of this show you like.  The link to is in the description as well as a post I wrote about my decision to partner with them.  Please give it a read.  Let BetterHelp be the service people need and work toward the intimacy you want.