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Thread topics range from "overcoming social shyness" to "lay reports." She'd fallen down a rabbit hole researching the PUA community, and it wasn't the first time. It didn't start with the intention of it becoming a project," Laiwint tells CBC Arts. I really thought that what I was going to encounter was just guys trading tips and strategies. ' Things like that." There are textbook techniques for manipulating the power dynamics in a relationship.I think I was coming from a place of wanting to understand what had happened to me in a relationship." When Laiwint was 25, she dated a self-proclaimed PUA. "But I didn't really understand that this was a formalized community." So she Googled. You've probably encountered this glossary term: "Negging is a big one — that's like a compliment and an insult wrapped into one," she says. Take this one: "Being kind of an alpha male is a big thing — so greeting somebody and being kind of aggressive, or giving a kiss right off the bat," she says.The deception was that my name was Jay and not Jenny," she says.The question of why Jay was posting in the first place, however, is complicated — far more complicated than any of his relationship advice.Laiwint is a 33-year-old visual artist, one who typically works in photography and video, but last spring she found herself in the middle of something much closer to a social experiment — an experience that would become The Pick Up Artist, her current exhibition at the Art Gallery of Mississauga.The focus of The Pick Up Artist is Laiwint's diary from when Jay was an active member of a PUA forum.Ultimately, she has no qualms about what she wrote as Jay.
And that grey area she'd experienced — the shaky uncertainty of what's true and what's false in a relationship — became a source of creative fascination."It's very generic self-improvement stuff about harnessing your being and becoming the empowered self," she says, thinking about their rhetoric. It's something that you read a lot on the forums, she says."There's this emphasis on becoming a genuine, sincere self.She uses some of his conversations in a large collage that appears in the space, as well.And accompanying those written excerpts are a few audio and video pieces — commentary that provides some context on how the actions and attitudes of these online communities spill over into real life.