Images 001


PS IMG index

PS—001, 002: (details of) Pleasure-systems archive, 2017, colorprint, 1 x 3 meters.

PS—003: Pleasure-systems archive, 2017, colorprint, 1 x 3 meters.

Chapter (5)
~ Pleasure-systems Archive


[Playboy] has long ago fulfilled what it set out to do, namely, to construct a collective sexual imaginary capable of implement- ing [...] a new set of effects, bodily habits, and desires that prepared the shift from a disciplinary society, with its repressive norms and bodily regulations, towards a pharmacopornographic regime characterized by immaterial labour, postdomestic space, the psychotropic and chemical regulation of subjectivity, prosthetic extension of the sexual body, electronic sexual surveillance, and consumption of intimacy. (Pornotopia 219)

Right-wing, moderate, and liberal left-wing dogma typically all concur (at least in practice) with the belief that rape fantasies, masculine-to-feminine domination, and sexualizing vulnerable populations, are biologically hardwired in human beings, in subtle or overt ways.
It might be interesting if people began to consider that each one of those beliefs could be exclusively nurture-based. And pornography is one of the main visual systems that builds and maintains the sociopolitical dynamics which keeps those beliefs in place. Using mainstream tube sites as a main point of reference, it’s possible to find millions of data points which demonstrate how the online pornographic complex produces (not reflects) sexual desire.

In an informal conversation after his public talk at Het Nieuwe Instituut, the Spanish philosopher Paul B. Preciado talked about how universities all over had been slowly cutting out “sex studies” from gender studies programs, because sex is such a pandoras box. That chaos is exacerbated by nearly infinite access to a striking plethora of sexual content online.

But there’s a methodology embedded in that pandoras box of sexual desire. Amongst the chaos and unknown, there are structured strains of political influence, such that individual desire becomes a syrupy and insipid collision of private arousal, mashed together with narratives of systematic oppression. Complex and challenging to parse out those influences.

This visual archive is a subjective statement of an arousal pattern; a visualization of one unique (sexual) digital fingerprint, cultivated out of 20-something years of erotic media consumption.
But it’s really not straight-forward, for me at least. Since these really nasty narratives of oppression are so deeply interwoven with private narratives and primitive impulses, it’s quite complex, and hard to grasp the notion of “what is mine here?” and “what about these inclinations actually originate in me?”

Early smut films, the embryonic origins of the modern-day pornography complex, set a tone that has carried through into contemporary erotic consumption.

The wealth and infrastructure of the United States is based on slavery; it’s how a group of poor pilgrims created a thriving nation, particularly in the US South. Southern states fought in the Civil War for their right to keep black bodies as property, and there are southern cities who still, to this day, fly the confederate flag of secessionists.
So we have PornHub, showing mainstream and amateur pornography typically produced, filmed, directed by white men. And these videos are made or presented largely for an audience of white men. And we have these Southern US states, still majority white, where black murder, discrimination, and incarceration is at a constant level of heinous. And in 2016 in the US South, Pornhub users most viewed category was “Ebony.”

Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi...where whites still fight to uphold the legalized murder and discrimination of black bodies, are the states where white people most enjoy the sexual objectification of those same black bodies.

Mainstream films and pornographic themes are entrenched with the exploitation of those who are socially devalued. In 2016, North Carolina passed a law requiring transgender individuals to utilize the bathroom of the gender that they were assigned at birth. According to the Chicago Tribune, the porn site xHamster found that in March of 2016, in North Carolina alone, there were 400,000 search hits for the term “transsexual”.
It is consistently sad and ironic that regions with the most legalized discrimination of certain minority groups often seem to consume the most pornography depicting that group.
For someone who possesses conditions of social and economic privilege, it’s important to be intentional about understanding and dismantling fetishization.