Arse Elektronika San Francisco 2010

Talks and performances

All Along the SexTower: Sex on Stage in America, from Susie Bright's Reporters Notebook
Susie Bright

America's public fucking stages — the theatrical, commercial theaters of sex — have transformed over the years, whether in Times Square, the Combat Zone, or the Tenderloin.

Many of them were never built with "sex on stage" in mind, but whether they were intentional or makeshift, they provided indelible memories. What makes a great stage, a great space, for "wall to wall x-rated action"— from the performer's point of view, or the audience's desire? It's an interesting question when you're putting on seven sex shows a day be it in the heart of a big city, or a truckbed in the middle of a corn field.

Susie Bright shares her memories and analysis of the past 25 years she's been frequenting sexual performance spaces, and asks you to bring your scrapbooks, as well.

Between Fashion and Fetish: A close-up on the creation and perception of kinky clothing
Robert Glashüttner

Who draws the line between an outfit that is fashionable and one that is fetishistic? It has become a hard task to tell apart what belongs to the world of fashion and what is only part of some closed fetishistic community. Where pop icons such as Madonna used explicit outfits in the 1980ies to create a wicked context of sexual desire and erotic fantasies, contemporary female pop performers like Lady Gaga use former kink-only-pieces like latex stockings or ballet high heels also for flamboyant outfits where the sexual connotation is just one aspect. Although the fashion industry still mostly refrains from a too close relationship with fetishistic materials and cuts, designers of fetish pieces continue to broaden their market towards the mainstream, outside of their dedicated communities. The talk includes excerpts from interviews with three latex fashion designers from Vienna who cater for different target audiences.

Blowing Your Load: The Office Shooting Spree as Sexual Metaphor
Philip Freeman

Looked at correctly, architecture is innately, irrefutably feminine. Just as when you really think about it, the person who physically surrounds and contains the other person during sexual intercourse is in fact the dominant partner, for all its spires and obelisks architecture is ultimately about men creating hollow spaces into which they can crawl like cowards, returning to the womb rather than facing the terrors of a vast and uncaring, if not predatory, world. But that which provides safety and reassurance can become cancerous ­ familiarity breeds contempt, and all that.

The modern office building and the rituals of corporate life conducted within it, from the panopticon-like surveillance conducted by bosses who monitor employees' Internet activity and read their emails to the de-sexualization of interpersonal relationships within the office (hitting on one's co-workers is seen as "creating a hostile work environment," thus redefining sexuality as a form of hostility), all build up to create a sort of emasculating energy-field. And the familiarity of returning to the same corner of the same building day after day exacerbates that emasculation. Male resistance to this constant smothering pressure takes many forms ­ the forwarding of lewd or disturbing video clips to co-workers (I worked with a man who had a library of hundreds of these), flirtation with sexually available officemates or, in extreme cases, viewing of pornography and/or masturbating behind one's closed office door.

In his book Super-Cannes, J.G. Ballard describes an exclusive, upscale colony where corporate heads live in close proximity to one another. The pressures of their jobs are so extreme, the distortion of innate drives by the demands of business so overwhelming, that a therapist embarks on an experimental program of behavioral readjustment, getting them to release pent-up tensions in orgies of sex and violence. Viewed through a suitably Ballardian psychic filter, it seems obvious that the ultimate manifestation of long-pent-up sexual release in corporate culture is the office-park shooting spree.

The image is deeply familiar to Americans ­ an unassuming employee is fired and leaves the office, only to return with one or more guns and begin blasting holes in co-workers, literally penetrating them in a manner that mimics/"makes up for" all the more traditional forms of sexual acting-out that have been systematically excised from corporate life. While this has traditionally been the province of male workers, we have recently seen the first female office shooter, showing that this type of behavior has crossed gender lines and truly become a part of Americans' psychosexual DNA.

My talk will analyze office shooting sprees as a metaphor for too-long-denied sexual impulses, in much the way J.G. Ballard used car accidents as a metaphor in Crash.

Body Heat
Heather Kelley

Demonstration and discussion of a new sex tech inferface.

Casino, Automobile, Public Square: The Problems of Virtual Space
Mae Saslaw

This talk will discuss how the Internet is a lot like fucking in a car, plus other more common metaphors for the Internet. Using existing theories of public and private spaces and the ways in which we approach these spaces, we will consider how sex, politics, and sexual politics have evolved through the digitization of social life.

Designing Spaces for Sex: Expanding the Intimate Possibilities of the Built Environment
Ella Saitta

The design world loves to talk about "making things sexy", but somehow that rarely translates to actual sex or actual intimacy, only the consumption of desire. The modern city is not designed around human relationships, let alone intimacy, so we adapt ourselves to the city instead, figuring out how to have those relationships inside the consumptive structure of the city. As we try to fit our lives and our selves into the city, the logic of the built environment exerts social and economic force to limit us to a narrow range of acceptable intimacies, identities, and structures. What would it look like to change this? What does a city that's designed for human life, in all its varieties, look like? What does an architecture of sexuality, in both the theoretical/fantastic and practical/real modes, look like? Let's find out!

DIY Somatic Architecture and Wearable Erotic Electronics
Elle Mehrmand and Micha Cárdenas

Participants will be introduced to the basics of wearable electronics with arduino. Looking at the electronics used in virus.circus.breath, an erotic mixed reality performance, Elle Mehrmand and Micha Cárdenas will describe the wearable electronics they use in their work. Workshop attendees will learn how to make pressure sensors, buttons and circuit boards out of conductive thread and fabric, and how to interface these soft sensors to arduino to create new uses for them. Participants will be asked for a suggested donation of $10 to cover workshop costs.

"Don't Ingest": Interspecies Romance in the Mass Effect Series
Adam Flynn

In examining recent treatments of 'love in outer space,' one cannot ignore the bestselling Mass Effect series of action-RPGs. Following the tried-and-true Bioware Games formula begun with Knights of the Old Republic, Mass Effect involves travelling around the galaxy, collecting a diverse squad of humans and aliens, and confronting some dire threat. Along the way, your character can gradually build a rapport with certain squad members that blossoms into romantic tension and of course, climactic sex.

Despite the best attempts of the Fox News "Alien Sideboob" controversy to paint them as pure space deviance, the payoff sequences themselves are no racier than network television. And while you ostensibly have the freedom to choose your romantic object, the design of the game enforces a (basically) monogamous state of affairs, not to mention certain expectations about gender roles and sexual orientation (which are not necessarily observed in Bioware's other games). "Don't ask, don't tell" seems to be alive and well in the Alliance Navy of 2183, though it's apparently acceptable to engage in xenophilic relationships with aliens, some of which require consultations with the ship's doctor.

The talk will analyze the romance options in the two games from narrative, game-design, and socio-cultural perspectives.

Erotic mind control via the Internet
Charlie Anders

People have fantasized about erotic hypnosis and mind control for hundreds of years. The idea of turning someone else (or being turned) into a mind-controlled sex slave has always been a major fetish for a lot of people. But until recently, the only way to control someone's mind and reprogram them with new, perverted behaviors was to meet face to face. It's only the last few years that the Internet has transformed the world of mind-control fetish. Now there are tons of websites where you can download mp3s that will reprogram your mind and install new behaviors and triggers, doing everything from turning you into an animal to making you unable to say no to sex. There are also plenty of hypnotic flash animations and various other programs that will give you new, usually naughty, behaviors. Not only that, but there are social networks for hypnotists and subjects to meet up, and people hypnotize each other in chat rooms and on Skype. But watch out: There are some files, and some hypnotists, that aim to mess up your life. In this talk, Charliegirl will walk you through the brave new world of online erotic mind control. We'll listen to brief samples of various hypnotic mp3s, talk about the pitfalls of letting your ipod rewrite your brain, and watch some hypnotic animation files. By the end of the talk, your minds will be totally scrambled.

Global Orgasm Project
Maia Marinelli and E. Conrad

Global Orgasm Project is a multimedia performance where the world is challenged to bring a woman to orgasm. The project uses a combination of sex toys, mobile technology, social networking, and an audience of potentially millions to evoke sexual climax in the female performer. Streamed on live-video, harnessed in variety of remotely controlled sex toys, she challenges the world to witness and give her an orgasm. Ultimately, the result will be determined by the number of participants, how well participants can work together, and with what accuracy they can control the toys attached to the performers body. The interactions among participants will be  serendipitous and as much a part of the performance as her ultimate response.

Performing a long-distance global sexual act abstracts the body and technology equally, uncoupling action with the consequence of that action. This gap builds tension and desire between the person who is demanding satisfaction and the one trying to succeed in giving that satisfaction, becoming the burning fuel of the event. Here the performers body is the catalyst of a shareddesire, while the social interactions among participants is the vehicle of a sublime global experience. To succeed, the network of participants will have to coordinate inputs among themselves.

Honey Pie (Video)

It started as a personal art project.  His goal was to build a life-size mannequin.  He was working out of his garage, molding body parts and painting faces.  Years of drawing and sculpting had led him to this point.  He showed members of his family what he was making but they all thought that he was "weird."  Then he posted images of the work on his website.  The positive responses were overwhelming.  But the questions weren't what he expected.  People wanted to know what else his mannequin could do or what they could do to the mannequin.  Instead of being turned off by the questions, Matt McMullen tried to answer them.  From that day forth, his mannequin became a very expensive sex doll.  From that day forth, Matt McMullen became the owner of Real Dolls.

I went down and visited the Real Doll factory in San Diego in February, 2010.  Body parts, exoskeletons and unfinished bodies are mixed together with paint brushes and power tools.  The place looks and feels more like an artist's studio than a manufacturing plant.  The silicon dolls start at $6000 each and each doll is customized to the clients specific needs.  Because of the craftmanship behind each doll, the factory can only produce about 6-8 dolls per week.

Macro-Endosymbiotic Cha-Cha
Jason Brown

Traditional visions of posthuman sexuality involve avatars with hella tight polygon grids, form-fitting teledildonics rigs, and (oh blessed day!) wetware pleasure integration without all those pesky intersystem meat interfaces. Penny ante folderol the lot of it! Co-evolutionary transorganic interpenetration — now that's hot. Consider the humble mitocondrion. Consider the scale of inter-organism code and pleasure transmission. Consider the superorganisms in which humans are inextricably embedded. How would you know if you were the gamete of an ideological metaorganism? How would it feel?Would it feel like the imprisoning illusion of a gnostic prison world? Or would it feel likesexy time? No mere interpellation into a classical subject, oh no! You will be transformed by the signifying call into an organelle of That Which Is Greater! And you will be held for quite a bit more than questioning, let me tell you!

Making Spaces for Sex: From Rituals to Parties to Playa
Hosted by Carol Queen

Whether your first group sex experience is at a swing club, a spiritual event, or at a Burning Man camp, it can be life-altering or just good convivial erotic fun. But do you ever wonder what goes into making these spaces happen? Hosts and creators of group erotic environments will tell stories and some of the secrets of behind-the-scenes social engineering of the most frisky kinds. Moderated by Carol Queen of the Center for Sex & Culture (who also co-founded Queen of Heaven pagan sex parties and worked with the Jack-and-Jill-Offs). Featuring Kitten Calfee of Comfort and Joy, Polly Pandemonium of Kinky Salon (and its constellation of related events), Dr. Robert Lawrence of Queen of Heaven and the Masturbate-a-Thon, and Johannes Grenzfurthner, who can talk about any subject with the authority that comes from being a renegade Austrian academic! More participants are still being confirmed.

On The Importance Of Having Sex With Monsters
Annalee Newitz

Beauty has sex with the Beast, Abby has sex with Swamp Thing, the people of Innsmouth have sex with Cthulhu's spawn, Gaius Baltar has sex with a cylon who lives in his head, and of course the dragonriders of Pern have gay psychic dragon sex. While monster sex has been used for over a century to sell science fiction, there's a lot more at stake in these stories than sheer titillation. These stories are sexual fables about the world of human desire - and how to navigate it without being destroyed. In this talk, I'll highlight some examples of monster sex in fiction, show some clips, and explain why having sex with monsters always changes the world. But not necessarily in the way you'd expect.

People's Pornography: Sex and Synchronization on the Chinese Internet
Katrien Jacobs

People's pornography offers an unprecedented outlook onto the renaissance and harmonization of sexually explicit media and Internet culture in China. Chinese people have firmly embraced the era of DIY media and pornographic excess. A reclaiming of sexual bodies and home-made content is important since commercial markets and consumer tastes are dominated by overseas (read: Japanese) products. Chinese people have started to counter this peculiar kind of erotic colonization by getting their own hands dirty towards peer-to-peer economies and autonomous productions. The talk will focus on people's pornography as it causes prosperity and bliss amongst mobs of critical netizens, bloggers, and artists. Female artists such as Yu Na and Siu Ding have offered uniquely witty responses to a wealth of sexual entertainment. Celebrity bloggers such as Han Han and Ai Wei Wei have joined activists in a synchronized movement for sexual liberty and autonomy. Hooligan Swallow and Hairong Tian Tian are some of the bloggers who have postulated a defense of the organic body and its animal instincts. What are the sexual flavors and fantasies used by Chinese people in reclaiming pornographic media and revitalizing a bungled Internet culture?

Personal Portraits of Australia
Rich Gibson and Rose White

Most of us know about as much about the anatomy of our genitals as we do about the geography of Australia.

In both cases we see the landscape from a long distance, through a distorted cultural lens, and while we have a general idea that important things must be happening down there we don't have a firm hand on the details.

We will be taking large images of the normally hidden, and then rescaling and overlaying those images with geographical data to let you answer questions like 'if Texarkana is really the asshole of America, than where is America's clitoris?'

Queer Technologies and Spaces of Acceleration
Zach Blas

Queer Technologies is an organization--company, art collective, and activist group--that produces a critical product line for queer technological agency, interventions, and social formation. QT products include transCoder, a queer programming anti-language; ENgenderingGenderChangers, a "solution" to Gender Adapters' male/female binary; and Gay Bombs, a technical manual manifesto that outlines a "how to" of queer networked activism. QT products are often displayed and deployed at the Disingenuous Bar, which offers a heterotopic space for political support for “technical” problems. QT products are also shop-dropped in various consumer electronics stores, such as Best Buy, Circuit City, Radio Shack, and Target.
This talk centers around the spatial tactics and strategies that Queer Technologies uses to form a queer politics and collectivity around technology and global capital. Queer Technologies products are based on a theory of viral aesthetics, which is an aesthetics of mutation, speed, appearance, and infection. Working within this aesthetic practice, Queer Technologies focuses on how politically resistant art practices must adapt to be executable in networked environments. Queer Technologies' political practice of viral aesthetics does not call for a dialectical resistance but rather a speeding up, or what Galloway and Thacker call a hypertrophizing, of technology and capital. This talk will begin with a discussion of Queer Technologies and viral aesthetics and then consider 4 spaces Queer Technologies "virally" accelerates: 1) gallery space with the Disingenuous Bar, 2) store space with shop-dropping, 3) city space with GRID--an appropriation of Gay Related Immune Deficiency (the name previously held by HIV/AIDS) and digital grids of communication and transmission--QT's dynamic, interactive apping application that tracks the dissemination of QT products and maps the "battle plans" for Queer Technologies to more thoroughly infect networks of capital, and 4) the space of collectivity created in the assemblage of bodies, technologies, spaces, and times that Queer Technologies calls the SoftQueerBody.

Sex in Space: The Outer Space Panel
Hosted by Samuel Coniglio

Humans are sexually adventurous creatures. Whatever new place they explore, sooner or later some naughty couple will want to have sex there. Space travel is the ultimate destination. Over the last ten years, opportunities have opened for private citizens to go visit the International Space Station. One company, Bigelow Aerospace has launched two space hotel prototypes in to orbit (about 200 miles above the Earth). Virgin Galactic is offering suborbital joyrides to the edge of space (62 miles). Recent political changes is making NASA open its doors to private rocket companies. What this means that vacations in space, including sex vacations in space, will be available within 4-10 years!

This session will introduce private space ventures, living in space 101, and open up to a panel discussion of the implications of sexual encounters in a zero gravity environment.

Sex, Spaces, Feminism
Ben Dagan

For years, feminist movements have fought for a fundamental change in gender inequality. By challenging and continuously destructing the social context of the gender regime, we are always moving ahead in our critique of the current symptoms and causes of gender based suppression. As the destructive potential of critique has to be questioned and adapted to modern social conditions, we renew our critique to fit new sexual environments and spaces, especially in the western world. Embracing this environment makes us conscious of the possibilities of the sexual liberation of women.
To highlight these possibilities, we discuss the reason why we see certain technologies as a form of sexual liberation. We will also renew our critique of spaces and discuss the possibilities of hacking spaces, and through that, hack the conditions for sexual liberation.

Six Feet Under Club

In the age of data mining, a person's sex life may contain less embarrassing details than their web search history. Does it make sense that the former is a tightly guarded secret while the latter is shared with anonymous corporations daily? Even though a sexual nature is one of the few things most humans share in common, our social convention is to push all trace of it out of the public sphere. The Six Feet Under Club offers attendees a unique opportunity to experience the warping of public and private intimate space.

Throughout the conference, couples can volunteer to be buried together in a casket beneath the ground. The space they occupy will be extremely private and intimate. The coffin is a reminder of the social norm of exclusive pair bonding "till death do us part". However, this intimate scene will be corrupted by the presence of a night vision webcam which projects the scene on to an outside wall. The audience will be privy to the scene inside, but the volunteers in the coffin will be completely isolated from them. The scenario keeps the intimacy of a sexual moment intact while moving the private act into public space. It can be seen as an absurd parody of pornographic cinema or an examination of the high value placed on sexual privacy. Either way, won't you become a member of the Six Feet Under Club?

Ten Ways We Can Fix Porn

Everyone talks about how bad porn is; indeed, the fact that "porn is bad art" is just about the only thing everyone knows about it. But, then, what do we do, if we want porn, but we want good porn?

The Interlinking Structure of Porn Sites - How Dreams, Desires and Dongs interconnect on the World Wide Web
Svenja Schroeder

Internet pornography is a vast industry and rapidly grows since the invention of the world wide web in the early 90s. The possibility to consume pornographic material at home promises a certain degree of freedom and pleasure for everybody. Searching for desired porn content on the internet can be a challenging task though if you have no idea where to start. Even if you disable Google's search restrictions, it's not garantueed to find porn according to your needs and desires. Fortunately most porn sites include links to other sites with material for different tastes - but not every link lives up to its promises. There are different phenomena an online porn explorer will stumbleupon: promising thumbnail gallery posts, huge link lists, fraudulent circle jerks, only to name a few, and - of course - lots of ham an spam.

In order to explore the online universe of porn the interlinking structure of porn sites on the WWW will be crawled with a web spider. A network analysis will be run on this data to identify central sites, hubs and authorities and maybe even clusters of sites. An emphasi will be put on the comparison between commercial hetero and the more alternative queer porn sites. This talk also aims at providing a 101 for online porn (re)searchers and will discuss different promising search strategies to get off in the shortest amount of time.

Elle Mehrmand and Micha Cárdenas

We are told to stay home if we're sick, to cover our coughs and to wash our hands at every turn, from every radio and television, and the criminal penalties are severe. The hysteria is everywhere.
virus.circus is a series of performances focusing on the questions of virus politics, transspecies erotics and becoming avatar in a science fiction non-linear narrative. Our proposal for Arse Elektronika 2010 "Space Racy" is to do a live performance of one part of virus.circus. The performance will focus on taking the local performance space and turning it into a part of our science fiction narrative using projections and live performance. The specific details of the performance will depend on the actual location. If the resources are available, such as a large public projection screen, or perhaps some funding for posters, we also hope to promote the event through a transreal ad campaign, building off of the widespread H1N1 vaccination advertisements that are everywhere.
The story in our performance will consider the implications of the current virus hysteria, our feeling of living in a hypochondriac society where one is constantly instructed to "beware of the virus" and "wash your hands", where one's experience in public space is constantly interrupted by announcements of hygiene hysteria. Imagining the near future of sex, our avatars will be naked, though our physical bodies will be covered in latex. We can imagine a generation living their entire sexual lives behind latex barriers. Yet the politics of viruses are deep and disconcerting, with people's movement being restricted until they prove to be healthy. The rhetoric of viruses are already serving to further the goals of institutionalized racism when UCSD sends out H1N1 notices to students saying DO NOT TRAVEL TO MEXICO. The history of queer politics shows that the rhetoric of viruses are used to control marginalized populations.
We will use our voices, organs and bodies to create sound and an experimental, science fiction non-linear narrative across a series of performances. Continuing our exploration of the use of the body as an instrument, we will use DIY sensors on our bodies including ultrasonic range finders, biometric sensors and softpot potentiometers to modulate our voices and produce a live audio environment. The sensor data will be put into the PureData audio program, where we will be able to create live sound modulation and pitch shifting. All of this data will be sent into Second Life, activating sound and movement of our avatars, blurring the realities we are performing in. Our Second Life avatars will be projected into the live performance space at a life-size scale, implying that they are in the room with us, creating a low budget hologram with projection and scrim material.
We will break out of our networked prison.