Category Archives: posthuman

Remediation & genderqueer online at the Staging Illusion conference

Registration is now open for the Staging Illusion: Digital and Cultural Fantasy conference, which is organised by my colleague Russell Pearce and others in the Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies & the Centre for Material Digital Culture at Sussex Uni.

I’ll be giving a paper on the The remediation of real bodies in genderqueer online porn: politics, control and affective labour. See abstract below and the conference tumblr blog here:

Abstract :

Online environments and web 2.0 platforms today appear as sites of experimentation and as opportunities to construct brand new sexual identities. The websites of queer alternative porn production companies increasingly employ the language of ‘real’ bodies. This opens up questions about the mediation of social meanings about queer and women in these sites. What kinds of publics are forming around this mediation?

Recent studies of online queer porn production have focused on questions of user authenticity (Attwood, 2010; Mowlabocus, 2010). These are concerned with the incompatibility between embodied actuality and ideal fluid cybersubjectivity (Wakeford, 2002; O’Riordan, 2007). However apart from user control, issues of authenticity in online queer alternative porn can be fruitfully thought as forms of labour.

This paper analyses discourses of authenticity in the websites and Furry Girl, two production companies from the field of genderqueer porn, which incorporate sexual and feminist politics in some way. The first component of my argument is that, in ‘real body discourses, this kind of porn production appears un-mediated. The mediation aspects of digital culture are in this process occluded. Secondly, I suggest that through this emphasis on queer visibility and authenticity, sexuality is constructed both as a disciplinary site and a site for value extraction. In particular, as ‘real’ bodies in these cases translate into diverse, inclusive and multiple, they create new needs and desires for politically sensitive lesbian consumers in neoliberal societies.

UPDATE: My article entitled ‘Remediating queer politics in online porn: Brand(ed) new sexualities and real bodies’, will be published in the special issue ‘Revolting Bodies: Desiring Lesbians’, in the Journal of Lesbian Studies (Forthcoming).

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exploring #4 : tech/ porn

and another one from– about Pornography and Technology as presented by Tina Loretz at the 23C3 Berlin conf. in 2007. The post gives some historical info of pornographic media but this is the part I found interesting:

‘Teledildonics and Interactive Porn’

Second Life: avatars programmed to have virtual sex. Sex in Second Life happens through a combination of poses, animations, scripts, and typing. The main ingredient is known as pose balls, objects with scripts in them that trigger a user’s avatar to play certain animations or poses. For sex, poseballs are placed close together, with titles above them that say the position the user will take… Wiibrator, a Python application that interfaces the Wii’s Wiimote and the PS2’s Trancevibrator. Lorenz concluded by saying that we’ll see more and more of these gadgets that mediate virtual and real life sexual activities.

In another post the virtual sex world Red Light Social Centre is presented. This is pretty similar to Second Life, but it is all about meeting people and watching porn. It would be interesting to see how queer, if at all, this world might be.

Meanwhile, I updated the entry on Kira O’Reilly, the body / bio artist, in the Artists page (I can’t see anything particularly feminist about Kira O’Reilly’s work, but it is certainly queer, as it is work about boundaries and the body, posthumanism and respresentations of intimacy, so it is relevant here).

I also made a new entry about Jenny Willet, a bioartist, which even though not working within a UK context, is working with Kira O’Reilly, Marije Janssen of C’Lick Me and Netporn art&politics, WARBEAR of Phag Off and others at the Vivo Arts School for Transgenic Aesthetics Ltd.

Notes – ANT and topology

Notes from Law, J. (1999) ‘After ANT: Complexity, naming and topology’ in Law, J. amd Hassard, J. (eds) Actor Network Theory and after, Blackwell

Here John Law addresses the problem of ANT becoming a homogeneous ‘theory’ whose ‘productive non-coherence’ and ‘capacity to apprehend complexity'(8) has been eroded by the very incorporation of ANT. What has come to hardly matter is exactly the tension between ‘actor’ and ‘networ’, which in the process of naming was an oxymoron intentionally created. Drawing on the history of actor-network-theory, he points to two different approaches to what ANT has come to be understood as.

  1. relational materiality (or semiotics of materiality):  As such, ANT represents an anti-essentialist framework whereby entities have no inherent qualities and are produced in relations. Divisions are understood as effects and outcomes and not given in  the order of things.
  2. performativity: entities are performed by and through these relations. The question of how, the how these entities gain their fixity through performativity, is for Law what ANT came to be associated with, a managerial task as he calls it.

What ANT clearly did, and as Annemarie Mol points out, is provide an alternative non-conformable spatiality which wages war to Euclidean topology. And to make this meaningful, stress how Euclidean spatiality carries with it certain understandings and socio-technical discourses and practices.  ANT de-naturalises these notions of the topographically natural and essentialist difference. It is in networks that regions are constituted and networks become this way alternative topological systems (nation-states in Mol are made of telephone systems paperwork etc).

The problem for Law is how the notion of the network has itself become naturalised and by this he refers to the process of ANT studies to refer to the how. For him the network concept leaves the character of relations open, does not aim to fix them, to stabilise them in an interpretation, just to translate them (make equivalents).

It is unclear to me if Law means that the problem with what ANT has come to mean or to be used as is actually its virtue as a form of spatiality. Does he mean that translation is a descriptive and neutral practice? Does he detest the fact that, as an alternative form of spatiality, the network limits the possible links that can be made (and thus the possible entities that can be produced)? Because as I understand this, noting the restrictions and the limits of possible relations is not tantamount to homogenising the links. This is not even my understanding of naturalisation, but on  the contrary, of de-naturalisation.  Seeing the notion of the network as an endless possibility and unproblematically incorporating it as an alternative topology carries itself certain assumptions and has its own underpinnings of socio-technical practices. It is also confusing how object integrity is thought as a matter of retaining the links, and just that. To be frank, I don’t get why there is such an insistence about not looking at the how.

netporn/postporn and queer/ feminist activism

I want to do some work around netporn/postporn and relations to queer/ feminist activism and visual art. Should you have any suggestions about UK performers/ visual artists or netporn producers who consider their work activist (feminist / queer), please contact me (af93[at]sussex).

At the moment I am looking at the work of Katrien Jacobs‘ blog and her book ‘Netporn: DIY Web Culture and Sexual Politics’ (2007).  In her book she argues that there is an extensive porn culture online which is based on amateur practices and p2p exchange which makes non-commercial sexual communication possible, despite the corporate branding of cybersex that is taking place or the moderation of web spaces. In particular, she uses the gift paradigm to argue that the porn exchange, just like the link exchange for bloggers, signifies the existence of an exchange culture (a gift economy) which potentially undermine ‘capitalist porn industries’. Sharing of porn is seen as a socil activity which, just like gift exchange, aims at social cohesion in practices of play which are different to the ‘discipline and punish’ of the nation-state. This applies to amateur porn, realcore and queer amateur porn.

There have been two netporn criticism conferences (2005 & 2007) in Amsterdam, in collaboration with the Institute of Network Cultures, Katrien Jacobs and Matteo Pasquinelli. It was The Art and Politics of Netporn (2005) which aimed

‘to discuss the potential of art and critical research in times of heightened information surveillance, filtering and censorship. The research presentations, art projects and performances viewed netporn as a complex network, with impact and growth, like any industry or media operation. Conference presenters addressed the ‘schizo’ climate of hype and censorship, focusing on the ethics and aesthetics of digital media environments and activities such as blogging, webcamming, chatting, p2p porn, live journals, confession boards, mailing lists and zines’.

This also produced the ‘C’Lick Me: A Netporn Studies Reader’.

The second one was  C’Lick me (2007)-

‘We want to re-think the society of the netporn spectacle: the digital zeitgeist that has given us a hypersexual body. What to do with our bodies and digital machines? Pornography has found its way into every nook and cranny of the Internet, but how can we still be queer radicals or body artists, private hedonists or fervent bloggers in this climate? Do we still need to have a sanctified space like an underground or a dungeon, when we produce de-sire with our floating networked bodies? Porn went porn-chic years ago. Today net-porn goes into Myspace bedrooms and everyday “realcore”.

I want to do some work around netporn/postporn
and relations to feminist activism and visual art.

Would you have any suggestions about UK performers/ visual artists or
UK netporn as feminist activism?