In olden times we inquired into digital bodies and bit physique, today we prefer real performance to virtual one where the body becomes flesh at last (using a now memorable Cronenberg-like expression. I think many of you remember his movie “Videodrome”.)
The late 80’s beginning of the 90’s “indie” imaginary that accompanied the most part of those years punk has now become “porn” bringing the “do it yourself” idea in contact with your skin and underneath your clothes (which are no more virtual clothes). Today pornography is becoming more and more “indie porn” and its main characters are no longer stars but very normal people that self manage their sexuality creating a new independent pornography. Maybe genuineness is the new secret of success. What’s more by means of P2P channels, blogs and share circuits of videos, pics and independent movies exchange it is a very rapid success. The porn becomes playful and ironical; it deconstructs and creates new codes.
Indie porn seems to impart new sap to net culture, which was exhausted of years of debates on digital body and cyberspace. On the other hand our mailboxes speak without beating about the bush too: more than 50% of the messages we receive everyday testify that sex is an important part of our life and netporn is a phenomenon we can’t close the eyes to. A two days event focused on netporn criticism called The Art and Politics of Netporn was organized in Amsterdam.
This event was organized by the Institute of Network Cultures , cured by Geert Lovink, Katrien Jacobs and Matteo Pasquinelli supported by Interactive media, Hogeschool van Amsterdam (www.interactievemedia.hva.nl), Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (www.hum.uva.nl/asca/), Cut-Up magazine (www.cut-up.com) and de Condomerie, Amsterdam (www.condomerie.com). It presented different points of view in the online pornography debate. They discussed about the rising Netporn society and about connections between porn and censorship, aesthetics surveillance and digital media aesthetics. There were numerous theorists and artists such as Mark Dery, Mikita Brottman and Susanna Paasonen .
To better understand it we interviewed Matteo Pasquinelli on this event and his text Warporn! Warpunk! Autonomous Videopoesis in Wartime. Written in 2004 it presents an interesting analysis of the connections among war, media, technology, body and desire in a political society that is becoming still more pornographic in its global being. The use of porn images as an instrument of collective fascination, the use of radical images as self-defence weapons and new performing territories.
Tatiana Bazzichelli: The pornography topic is becoming very important to reflect on world political events and their media representation. Referring to your text “Warporn! Warpunk!” and “The Art and Politics of Netporn” event, how does politics become pornography and vice-versa?
Matteo Pasquinell: It depends on what you think pornography means. I think it’s better to explain some terms even if it’s not useful to give a univocal definition as pornography is formed by a multitude of forces (it’s enough to read the first pages of Pornocopia by Laurence O’ Toole to see how every definition seems to have unintentional funny implications). Anyway today we often docket as “pornographic” the media events that represent a sudden and violent connection between our animal instincts and the collective imaginary. They don’t have to be forcedly sexual images, think of death, violence and war pornography. On the other hand in the Western Countries which are not personally involved in the war the commercial imaginary has to imitate underground porn attitude and images to recover its appeal. Briefly we can say show business and net societies are more and more involving hypertrophic representations of the human being’s desire and animal instinct. It’s a molecular and intimate becoming of media biosphere (you know someone could say “biopolitics”). It doesn’t have forcedly to be a negative process: it’s just a social evolution. “Politics of Netporn” means: how can we live together with this process?
Tatiana Bazzichelli: The rising Indie Porn phenomenon, which is connected to your Warpunk discussion, seems to open new perspective to activism forms, Mainly on the overcoming of self-censorship that permeates a lot of movement environments. The future is in the erotic awakening?
Matteo Pasquinell: Compared to the political movements of the ’60s and ’70s It’s a little bit strange the fact the so-called “Seattle’s people” gave almost no room to body and desire subjects (preferring a para-catholic interest for the Third World) and they have never been involved in any sexual imaginary (with few pink and queer exceptions). At the same time net culture generation and digital media assault have represented a new lustful economy that has invested a considerable quantity of desire in machines. Today the body imaginary seems to be explored and experimented by advertising only. We must admit a certain body atrophy, but something is happening on the net: the world of blogs is forcing a public and collective debate on sexual and pornography fields also. After Indie Porn phenomenon, which was mainly video-oriented, we are looking at a new blog galaxy that uses porn images in a complete playful and self ironical way. They are creating a new grammar and technology reinventing the pornographic game rules and overcoming its limits.
Tatiana Bazzichelli: How can netport open new horizons to the most independent artistic experimentation?
Matteo Pasquinell: The ironic paraphrase of a Castells’ book title “The rise of the netporn society”, which was one of the Amsterdam ‘s conference topics gave almost no room to art. It’s a phenomenon with great social dimensions and art is forced to be behind time. The net has given visibility to practices and experimentations which don’t need art galleries social economy to be recognized anymore. Katrien Jacobs wrote a book which has just been published by Maska LIBI_DOC: Journeys in the Performarce Of Sex Art about the relationship between sex and technology. It’s an interesting book because it refuses both the academic and art critic languages preferring an autobiographical approach. On the contrary of some academicians talking as they were anthropologists or entomologists parachuted in a jungle, Katrien’s experience comes into play
Tatiana Bazzichelli: What has it come out from Amsterdam ‘s event? Will there be new “The Art and Politics of Netporn”?
Matteo Pasquinell: Netporn Conference was a success, thanks to the peculiar open and tolerant Amsterdam ‘s atmosphere. There we have been stored endorphins and pheromones for months. We would like to organize the next netporn event in a city similar to Amsterdam but we don’t have an actual project yet.
A little tip for readers . The 16 December at 7.00 p.m. in the Newthinking space in Berlin , Tucholskystr 48 during “x-Sites – Sex in Internet” soft porn software art theorists and artists are asked to take part in a reflection on independent online pornography forms. No mention about the connections between Indie Porn and free software. Among the partakers there will be the New Thinking collective a development centre for free software and Linux diffusion, the media theorist Florian Cramer and the pop star Dahlia Schweitzer.