Leslie Friedman loves Coke Zero. A lot.

For her installation "Tastier," she fabricated dozens of giant cans of Coke Zero out of cardboard and heaped them in piles on the floor of Space 1026 in Philadelphia's Chinatown. The song "Kiss You All Over," the 1978 hit by Exile, plays on a constant loop.

Gonna wrap my arms around you
Hold you close to me.
Oh, babe, I want to taste your lips
I wanna be your fantasy.

"I was thinking the lyrics, as I was listening to it, as an ode to Coke Zero," said Friedman, who, at 33, has a penchant for pop music that predates her. She also has an anachronistic love of Pop Art.

"I don't think it's cool to be an Andy Warhol fan," said Friedman, an unabashed fan. "He's the most well-known American artist. It's not hip to say that."

Past trends aside, "Tastier" comments on breaking scientific studies that show diet soda can lead to the same health problems associated with sugary soda - obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. This week, Purdue University released research that shows sugar substitutes can foster behavioral and metabolic patterns with negative health effects.

"The reason you're not drinking the sugary beverage is to avoid the weight gain, or the negative repercussions of drinking that sugary beverage. But you still have the negative repercussions," said Friedman. "That really is a whole existential question: Is it really different? The simulation and the real thing are the same."

"Tastier" equates sugar substitutes - like stevia, aspartame, and saccharin - to sex substitues. Those oversized Coke Zero cans are piled around and underneath large candy-colored panels painted with images of naked women, some dripping with pink, gooey resin. The women depicted are models Friedman hired and posed.

"I was thinking about pornography in my work, and I didn't like a lot of the porn that I was finding, because it was not created with me in mind," said Friedman. "I'm satisfying my own desires of what I want to see."

While the images she painted are not overtly pornographic, two small television monitors in the installation show a color-manipulated loop of a masturbating woman which Friedman culled from a pornographic film. The exhibition may not be appropriate for children.

Friedman's choice to use Coke Zero instead of Diet Coke (note to the soda challenged: these are two distinct brands) is somewhat esoteric, but significant. Coca-Cola Zero was introduced in 2005 as a no-calorie soda that resembled the flavor of regular Coke moreso than Diet Coke. It was also marketed to men, for whom the word "diet" is too femine. Friedman did the math: Start with something that is close to the real thing but not really, add a male perspective, and you get porn.

Friedman studied political science as an undergraduate before earning a graduate degree at Tyler School of Art, at Temple University. She says her work is informed by a didactic process, similar to a written essay with theses and evidence. By layering images of sugar substitutes with images of pornography she is driving a message about modern lifestyles divorced from authenticity.

"As we create these simulations and substitutes in our lives - substitutes for food or for intimacy - what does that mean for the human experience?" said Friedman.

The answer to Friedman's question could be complex. The bright and whimsical nature of the installation shows that she clearly likes sexual imagery, and loves Coke Zero.