Arse Elektronika San Francisco 2012

Talks and performances

Amorous Bodies in Play: Sexuality in Nordic Live Action Role-Playing Games
Jaakko Stenros

There are numerous technologies and mechanics for simulating violence in games. But what if you want to explore sex and other amorous interactions in a safe, meaningful and physical manner?

In the Nordic countries, live action role-playing has developed into a unique and powerful form of expression. Nordic larps range from entertaining flights of fancy to the exploration of the intimate, the collective and the political. The tradition combines influences from theatre and performance art with gamer cultures. For the past decade one of the things the Nordic larp scene has been working on is mechanics for exploring sexuality.

Game scholar Jaakko Stenros takes a look at sexuality in the Nordic larp scene. With numerous examples he addresses simulation mechanics, tackles emotional bleed and social alibis, and contextualized larp in relation to other forms of role-playing from traditional tabletop to virtual worlds and common bedroom role-play. Hear how it is to live in a marriage between four persons, on a distant planet with thoroughly queer genders la Ursula Le Guin. How to create a historical simulation of the AIDS epidemic in New York in the 80's, how to transcend the gender and sex of the player and the character, how to create mechanics that are safe and respectful, yet titillating and feel right -- while also looking great and fitting the overall thematic of the work. Also, stories about orcs and rape.

Artist's Lecture: 'Obsessive Technologies'
Performance: 'Fifty Shades of Black Ops'

Joseph DeLappe

A combined lecture performance.
>>The first part is an artist's lecture regarding past works engaging sex, play and interaction. These would include sculptural projects 'Masturbatory Interactant', 'The Vagina Mouse', 'Nipple Ipod' and a performance from 2011 entitled 'Chatroulette: Discipline and Punish'. Documentation of these works are available on my website
I as well want to premiere a new work of online gaming performance, tentatively entitled 'Fifty Shades of Black Ops' wherein I would read from the chapter 'Male Sexual Response' from Master's and Johnson's classic text in the online FPS game 'Medal of Honor' or in another shooter game.<<

Bikini Beach Zombie Massacre
Lindsay Grace

Bikini Beach Zombie Massacre is a mobile game to parody the overt and comically sexualized content in games. It is lightly stylized in 1960's B-movie sexploitation aesthetic and contains a combination of subliminal and overt sexual analogy. ** During play, the lone male player must manage the onslaught of bikini clad zombies. They do so by shooting white bullets from their big black gun. Players shake the device on which they are playing to reload their gun. During play, a set of 10 subliminal images of nude, 3D rendered women appear. The player is rewarded through images of 3D bikini women with motivating messages that read 'they are coming', 'unquenchable', and 'they nibble flesh.'
The game's bikini clad zombies, demonstrate few attributes of the undead. The best are bruised, the worst are bald. They spawn with a slow moan.
The artistic goal is simply to highlight the unnerving comfort American audiences have with violence over sex. If the game were about impregnation instead of destruction, it would never see the light of day. It continues the well established convention of allying sexual content with violent content demonstrated in horror film genres and embedded in some popular AAA titles.
A general public version of the game is available on iTunes and Google Play. Exhibit version contains subliminal content is available for Android devices upon request.

Dani Ploeger

A performance installation (anal electrode, EMG sensor, video projection, loudspeakers, packaging material).
An Anuform® anal electrode connected to a modified Peritone EMG sensor registers the activity of my sphincter muscle. Anuform® and Peritone are readily available medical devices for the treatment of incontinence problems. I fake the orgasm of an anonymous subject who took part in an experiment into the nature of the male orgasm in 1980. I attempt to replicate the subject's sphincter muscle contraction pattern, which was registered during masturbation and orgasm in the experiment. I repeatedly perform the same pattern. The data is projected onto a screen in the form of graphs and is used for digital sound synthesis.

Elephant in the Relationship
Michael Annetta and Joshua McVeigh-Schultz

Elephant in the Relationship is a game for 2 to 4 players in which players attempt to communicate deeply troubling relationship issues. Players take on the roles of two people in a personal relationship and turn the drama of a potentially risky (or intimate) interaction into spectacle for a group to enjoy. The game fuses Pictionary-style drawing and guessing mechanics with elements of doll-play and improvisational theater, asking players to place themselves into a difficult emotional scenario with their partner. While Elephant in the Relationship is about general relationship issues, for Arse Elektronika we have included a set of sexual 'Elephants'. The game includes a whiteboard arena, dry-erase markers, post-its, and colored playing pieces (designed to 'stand-in' for the players). Using only these tools, a player tries to get their partner to guess the unspeakable relationship issue. By inserting players directly into the representational world of the drawing space, the game encourages empathy, divergent thinking, and novel communication strategies. Once players have mastered the basic level of play, they can pair with their existing relationship partners (romantic or otherwise) and try out Elephants from their real life. For this (potentially dangerous) twist, we encourage a second stage of play where an observer tries to communicate a resolution.

Flush: Beyond Strip Poker and Games as Foreplay
Kitty Stryker

Everyone's heard of that old classic, strip Poker, usually proposed as a not-so-sneaky way to get a party moving towards the sexual. Board game geeks may know the rules to alternatives, like strip Settlers of Catan or strip Scrabble.
But why is this such an appealing plot device in media? And why is it such a popular model for game playing geeks? What's the purpose these games serve as a negotiation/foreplay tool, and how practical are they really?

Kitty Stryker will discuss these various stripping games, and take things a step further with other concepts of games-as-foreplay. In addition, she will share a deck she developed with her partner for planning sexual/kinky scenes in a playful way, and give you some basics for developing and using your own sexy deck!

Fucking polygons, fucking pixels: On procedural representations of sex
Paolo Pedercini

What is the role of sex in the functionalist worlds of videogames? How come that modeling intercourses through cybernetic systems seems only to produce hilarious, problematic and delightfully reductionist outcomes?

In this gonzo survey of playable coitus, I descend from the prudish polish of AAA games to the subappreciated subterranean genre of interactive pornography (so you don't have to) and then re-emerge to envision alternative design approaches for healthy, sex-positive, post-pornographic, radical games.

Games: A Perspective
Eleanor Saitta

(No desc yet.)

"High-Art", Lust and Consumer Technologies: Two attempts to address the fact that I want to be critical, but actually love the banal
Dani Ploeger

I suggest that in the work of body artists such as Marina Abramovic; and Ron Athey there exists a certain tension between the artists' non-normative and often critical approach to the (re)presentation of their naked bodies in the conceptualization of their work, and their apparent personal interest in the normative body-ideals their work (initially) appears to challenge. Although they present their performing bodies in a manner that is likely to be perceived as transgressive in a mainstream context (cut, penetrated, pushed to exhaustion etc.) the bodies of these artists are also "beautiful" in accordance with normative body-ideals and suggest careful maintenance through a "healthy" lifestyle involving gym exercise, diets and sometimes even plastic surgery. Interestingly, however, the work of these artists does not appear to engage with this tension, nor does it address the likelihood of their naked performing bodies being perceived as sexually desirable by both mainstream and "high-art" dedicated audiences.

In this presentation I will discuss two of my own digital performance works in which I seek to address the tension between the critical approaches to my body's representation that motivate my work, and my more intuitive fascination with normative body-ideals that plays a role in my everyday life but also in my experience and behaviour during my performances. The works use modified consumer technologies to establish playful and game-like scenarios that engage with the sexual gaze that all naked bodies in contemporary western society are arguably subjected to (cf. Cover 2003), whilst also acknowledging my narcissistic fascination with this object-gaze relationship.

Hurt Doctor
Laura, Lenny and Jack

>>Doctor. Doctor, What? Where who? llllllllllet's play -- doctor doctor doctor does this look funny to you doctor I've got a pain in my what? then don't DO that doctor doctor pleeaaaase It's not a game it's all a fucking game. You can rip up your charts now cuz ours are all different. Your game is one we FAILED. For one day and one day only we invite you to take part in the new system. See if you can play our game, DOCTORS, where we know what our bodies need and you need to put your instruments inside us in just the ways that we tell you to. In only the ways that we tell you to. And then watch us like it. Because we are real.
As children, we are often taught that doctors have the answers. Answers to our bodies and selves held within the books, translated through the act of diagnosis. We are conditioned, gradually, and sometimes seductively, to trust the doctors. To put our organs in their exclusive, confident, sanctioned hands. To never intentionally break skin, to be only cut and sutured at the hands of doctors. ** Some children did look under their own skin. Did you? Did you hide it from the doctors?
... Playing "doctor" in "Operation", we become acutely alert to the risks of fucking up; your sensitive doctor ears are punished harshly if the scalpel cum tweezers touches the edges of the body and the doctor drops that funny bone back in for the nth botched surgery. As patients, we become acutely aware of being fucked up. As our bodies integrate into medical systems we find ourselves, and our sexualities, questioning our jurisdiction over our own bodies. Can we? Should we? What if I put this in here? Do I void my warranty? The doctors fuck up and the doctors do their job and the doctors do the things that we really need them to do and amidst all of it, just maybe (with a little mess), we take bits of our own skin back from them without their knowledge. It's sexy and beautiful and bloody. Eventually we do it brazenly. Eventually you join us.<<

Warning! Performance is interactive with the audience and there will be content dealing with the violence of the medical industrial complex as well as visible blood.

Information Bandwidth and Latency Bounds for Data Flow in Teletactile Sensor and Actuator Networks
Tad Rollow and Kurt Bollacker

Human physiological factors impose quantifiable bounds on the bandwidth and latency of the resulting communication channel that exists between two people who are in direct physical contact. A system of sensors and actuators connected in a network is used as an example to estimate the maximum bandwidth and minimum latency to be expected for any specific dermal contact frictional dynamic configuration between participants. Physical parameters relevant in teletactile applications (such as temperature, pressure, surface motion, and vibration) are modeled based on the physics of physical stimuli and on the physiology of the human systems.

Mirror Emotions & Sex Games / Awkward Sex Game Demo
Pietro Righi Riva

This talk describes the way in which human emotions arise and a selection of features in games designed to provoke emotions. The limits of the medium are discussed, and in particular the weaknesses of game mechanics in sex computer games. At the end of the session a new game that embodies the concepts outlined in the talk will be presented and demoed: Awkward Sex is a game about couples that experience the contrast between instincts and the difficulty in understanding another person's body. Awkward Sex is a physics-based, ragdoll-centric simulator of everything you'd rather not experience during sex. The game investigates the relationship between interaction with technology and sex, with a focus on awkwardness.

Multi-Profile, Platform Based Socio-Sexual Performance Constituted thru Polyamorous Relationships
Adam and Rosalynn Rothstein

A number of analogies and metaphors are utilized to describe the new multifarious personalities we exhibit when performing our identities via online profiles and social media platforms. Similarly, we look for ways to understand varied patterns of sexual relationships, that do not necessarily cohere to commonly accepted societal roles and the language describing these roles. By examining polyamorous relationships in a specific community through an ethnographic lens, we can draw larger conclusions about the significance of these relationships. Relationships generally known as 'polyamorous' seem to mimic the way in which internet users maintain numerous social media profiles on different platforms that do not necessarily contradict each other, but together form differing aspects of the single person behind the the profiles. Similarly, people who identify as polyamorous, in certain communities and instances, do not describe their multiple relationships with sexual partners as contradicting or conflicting with each other. They are separate but component parts of the whole. However, this description of a networked personality doesn't not extend to the real technology behind the Internet--there is nothing of peer-to-peer, packet-based, routed transmissions to this sexual identity. The identity remains on the level of user-focused platforms, not of the technology itself. While networked expression seems useful for expressing particular aspects of the identity, it is an abstraction of the underlying desire. Sexual identity is like a platform for desire mechanics, that allows creative expression and performativity, through which different utilities can be expressed, whether gamification, reification of societal roles, commodification, or liberation.

Physics of Vibrators and Sex Machines
Dr. X Treme

Some sex machines seem horribly over powered and some seem horribly underpowered. Some seem to have a deep, shaking feeling, and some a light buzzing feeling. What are the underlying physical principles which differentiate different sex machines? How can these principles be used to improve design? How can this understanding shed greater overall light on how the world around us works? My talk addresses these questions, and introduces the X-1 Orgasmatron, my flagship product using applied physics to create a new sex machine experience.

Polyamory: The Board Game
David Fine

(No desc yet.)

Reweaving The Human State Into A Game Ecology
Khannea Suntzu

First: In the next few decades most forms of Òlabor' will be better done (in cost & quality) by machines, making most humans unemployable. This will radically reconfigure the meanings of money, political power & democracy. Some kind of “basic income' will be needed for the survival of most people.
Second: Oil is running out, gradually crippling our service economies, bloated agricultural infrastructures, international trade, ubiquitous personal mobility & consumerism. We now must scramble to make the world sustainable in the long-term without starving half the people in the process.
Third: Some birth rates are in decline, but global population is still growing. Sadly the world at large is just a single population doubling from catastrophically overpopulated.
Each of these problems will require sacrifice by segments of society that have long opposed any change in their destructive behaviors.
What to do? Can we avoid creating situations of very difficult political change, massive unrest and traumatizing economic turmoil?
Humans are value driven. They value things, sex, prestige & occasionally one another. To replace this deteriorating element of society, we must offer new values that are obviously more alluring than the old.
Such a paradigm could be derived from a unified ecology of game, virtual reality, augmented reality, playfulness, beauty, immersion, education, infotainment, personal creativity & compelling involvement, & most of all : sex. The solution must satisfy the vast majority of some ten billion humans, meet their instinctive need for sexual conquest and orgasm, their need for safety, consolation, gregariousness, material things & their hunger for beauty. It must keep them very busy, motivated, stimulated and at least offer a better opportunity for social advancement than current education and media entertainment do.
Let's make the world fun. Let's immerse the world in consensual fun. It might be a great deal better than the mess we had so far.

Sex Invaders: Eroticised Digital Tug O' War Game Controller
Adam van Sertima

I will talk briefly about the theoretical & philosophical problem of intersubjectivity conveyed through digital media. I will recount how we built the device, and how we adapted it to erotic play. I will then ask for a volunteer to play the game with me using the device, attached to one each of our respective nipples. After a few moments, I will open the floor for questions.

The erotic and embodied element of digital games has been largely limited to a few games such as Wii Dare. Using our Pushme/Pullyou controller, we have adapted our existing technology to an explicitly sensual approach to game control. ** The payoff for these questions will be a delineation of how much embodied sensation can be communicated in an erotic context via digital play. The calibration of the system challenges the limit of erotic experience and constitutes an as yet unfulfilled aspiration. By playing a game where successful play also entails erotic arousal we can explore phenomenological questions of intersubjectivity, especially those occurring in spaces of play.

Sex Toy Interface Brainstorm
Heather Kelley

With all the improvements in sex toy technology, specifically vibrators, why are we still mostly stuck with the same shitty device interfaces? Or, more to the point, what would sex toy interfaces look like if they were given as much attention as the form factor has been getting recently. Despite how ergonomic the new designs are, these vibes still mostly have the same 7 patterns, the same Òcycle through' button controls, etc.

Everyone is welcome to bring sex toys (especially vibes) that they wish to discuss as either good or bad examples of a physical device interface. No doubt some of the problems, the stagnation of interface design, are tied to logistical realities such as chip design, manufacturing and cost, but let's not worry about that for an hour. How would we like to control our sex toys, if we had the power to make our hot dreams come true?

The Digital Paramour: Sexual Scripts in Video Games
Mattie Brice

If a culture in the future looked at our current generation of videogames to describe our sexuality, what would they see? With videogames boasting itself as the interactive medium and a new method of involving people in art, there is always a question about how sex is involved. Many games involve romance and sex, and the genre of dating sims makes the focus all about obtaining a relationship and/or sex the main goal. Looking at the niche genre of dating sims and seeing how they've influenced more mainstream games like Mass Effect, Dragon Age, and Persona 3 & 4, a pattern of sexual scripts (from sociology) arise as the methods developers use to invest the player into the interaction. There is a dominant presence of sexual scripts for the hegemonic man, as well as ambiguous ones for interacting with otaku (fanatical Japanese culture enthusiasts) fantasies and queer bodies. Of the few games design with women in mind, both traditionally problematic and subversive enactments can be found, mostly showing a struggle to understand women's sexuality. Even fewer are games inclusive of queer sexualities, and their method of pulling the player and the characters from being explicitly queer and just being ambiguous. All of this leads to how to include sexual scripts more consciously in design to make games as inclusive as possible.

The Game 2.0: A hands-on experiment using games as sexual selection criteria
Ned and Maggie Mayhem

We intend to present the results of a social experiment. Each of us will devise a simple game for our potential sex partners to play. The games will not be sexual in nature, but we will design them in such a way that way that we expect gameplay somehow to indicate personal sexual compatibility. We will then put out general calls for players on internet sex and dating sites, without screening for demographics such as class, education, race, age, gender or body type. We will choose sex partners based solely on their gameplay, including both score and style of play.

We will use the results of this experiment to address several interesting questions. How does the average quality of a sexual encounter depend on how we chose our partner? Is it more effective to make a decision based on a photo and self reported demographic/identity information, or based on gameplay? Is this type of personal ad more popular on websites catering to certain genders or demographics rather than others? To what extent do different types of people respond to a personal ad if they know they will be evaluated based on a digital game rather than the standard social game of sexual evaluation? Which groups benefit (i.e. have more good sex) from this new method of choosing sex partners? Which groups lose out? How can we use this data to rethink our own individual sexual screening processes that we use in everyday life?

We play games because we enjoy overcoming physical and mental challenges in low stress environments without serious repercussions for failure. When evaluating a potential mate or sex partner, the ability to overcome these same challenges can be an important indicator of sexual desirability, so games have always been an important arena for sexual selection. Athletic games can evaluate physical prowess, quick thinking, and self confidence, and those who win (or play valiantly) at sports are often considered sexually desirable. As technological skill and abstract thought become increasingly predictive of personal and material success, it makes sense for the sexual selection process also to adapt to evaluate more mental characteristics. This can include a potential mate's performance in games that require creativity, critical thinking, and abstract thought.

The Hammer: A Test-Your-Strength Game
Kristen Stubbs

This talk will introduce The Hammer, a test-your-strength game, including a live demonstration and a brief technical presentation. The Hammer is a silicone toy consisting of a bulb, instrumented with a force sensor, and a shaft, containing a row of LEDs. The bulb is inserted (either into a vagina or an anus) -- when the person squeezes, the shaft illuminates. The harder you squeeze, the brighter it gets.

Why "The Hammer'? When you've got a light-up cock, everything looks like it needs to be nailed.

The Ultimate Game : the Search for Erotic Joy / Sex Games with Destiny : The DIY Search for Erotic Joyful Immortality
Dan Massey and Alison Gardner

Put coarsely, we fuck the god and the god fucks us. We are creating a do-it-yourself pathway to personal vitological development that restores the reality of eroticism as the basis for spiritual experience. Sex games support our constant quest for erotic joy that is training for transforming the world. And, if we choose, the energy and communion of the orgasm or erotic peak experience lifts us to become more like Love, the source of that climactic desire to do good to others, even erotic good.

Sacred sexuality has long been a misunderstood feature of human existence. The occasional humans who would not permit government force and religious fear to deny them the joys of erotic expression and enjoyment have long recognized the orgasm as an instant of direct personal contact with universal and cosmic love for the individual. The secrets these explorers shared but hid from the view of society can now be discussed openly and explicitly, free from supersition, so that anyone can understand how to become an effective agent for truth and freedom. We declare ourselves, liberated from millennia of enslavement, to be homo sapiens eroticus.

The physical erotic is the foundation for the developing human experience of love. Our earliest experiences of pleasure leading to an eruption of joy are universal gifts to humanity. When we follow these experiences of good received with good given, we learn expanded meanings of love. Left alone, and received by all humanity, such might well be the basis a perfect society.

Human institutions of religion, government, commerce, and culture derive their power from repression of erotic experience and expression, preventing their participants from drawing on this most powerful vitological force to guide their living experience. These institutions enforce this erotic blockade starting at birth by systematically and deliberately undermining erotically constructive relationships, so that they may deflect the expression of this force to their own purposes, rather than the purposes most beneficial to the individuals enslaved by these coercive systems.

Games of erotic engagement offer an escape from this, which explains their growing popularity. A game can be based on a clean, abstract model of reality, that allows for clearly explained rules and mechanisms of play without encumbering the basic idea with irrelevancies, even mythologies. Once we understand this artificial reality, we can use it as a framework for understanding its real life context by becoming the foundation of a practical DIY vitology. As such, it gives structure, force, purpose, and direction to each person who honestly and sincerely plays the game.

We will discuss measurable forces released in the joy of sexual pleasure and ecstatic climax, and how such forces can be effective in shaping personal development, increasing global harmony, and self-creating a destiny, individual, and shared with all other persons.

In becoming accustomed to following the force of this destiny, we also come to understand the potential of, and the path to, joyful immortality. This understanding transforms our entire perspective on what we now recognize as “existence.' This enlarged viewpoint orchestrates the random harmonies of each life. This is raw power unleashed, and what motivates constructive and creative change that transforms society. It is the new communion of love that truly changes (and saves) the world.

Wanking: An ontological exploration of masturbation, technology, and subjecthood
Gopinaath Kannabiran

In this talk, I attempt to explore and expand the question -- "what does it mean to masturbate?" I specifically look at technologies that are implicated in the act of masturbation. While much attention has been given to the role of pornography, technologies such as sex toys, chat forums, camming sites, etc. remain largely un/der explored. I look at specific technological examples and draw out three specific roles a subject might assume while masturbating using these technologies. My insights are based on an auto-ethnographic journal that I had maintained for a month. Journal entries were made after every time I masturbated and contain my own subjective experience of that specific episode. I take a phenomenological approach and explore the situated nature of masturbation. To do this, I draw from Heideggerian phenomenology and Habermasian critical theory along with other post modern theories such as queer theory to critically question the ontology of masturbation and explore how our subjecthood is implicated through and with the use of technology.