In ‘Looksmaxx’, I draw inspiration from the controversial practice of ‘looksmaxxing’, an online subculture devoted to sculpting the human body for perceived perfection, often involving complex pseudo-scientific approaches, including facial chiseling. The goal of the practice is to make the body as malleable as possible.
The quest for bodily ‘perfection’ aligns closely with the onset of modernism. With the rise of capitalism and mass media, the masses were seen as weakened by the industrial revolution. In response, bodybuilding emerged as a sport initially seen as a rigorous science, aiming to attain a male physique akin to the ancient gods. Gyms were branded as ‘institutes of physical science’, and photographs were treated as ‘studies’. In the 1980s, along with the acceleration of neoliberal capitalism, bodybuilding as well was pushed to its extremes, turning it into the ‘freaky’ spectacle as we know it today. Within this era, performance enhancing drugs became rampant and pushed muscle growth beyond their limits.
Today’s image culture is completely reorganized with emergent AI image-generators. Photography no longer has a clear link to the material world, even surpassing the paradigm shift brought along with digital image technology. Without this link, the spectacle of the body is able to transcend previously unthinkable limits, growing entirely new possibilites of bodily experience. My project is an exploration, placing the tradition of bodybuilding into this new era, creating bodies that strive to obliterate all possible limitations.