What: Arse Electronika 2007, a conference about pornography in the Digital Age.
Speakers: the usual roundup of sexperts, theory jocks, gadget fetishists, smoke-shoveling cyberpundits, and hairy-palmed hangers-on.
When: I’m delivering a keynote lecture on Saturday, October 5, at 11 A.M. PST. Conference schedule here.
Where: Kink.com Porn Palace, 415 Jessie St. San Francisco, CA 94103.
What I’m Talking About: “Humanimal” Porn in the Age of Xenotransplants and Genetic Chimera.” Executive Summary: “Humanimal” porn is calculated to blister the mind of even the most been-there, done-that pornsurfer. Armed with image-manipulation software, morph auteurs are conjuring up images worthy of a medieval bestiary or a postmodern Decameron. The result is Dr. Moreau’s idea of Web porn: Hyperreal cheesecake in which nude babes with cow ears, tails, and udders suckle each other and naked werewomen flaunt donkey ears straight out of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Is this an absurdist attempt to push the envelope of fetishism to the point where not even devotees of this obscure desire can take it seriously? Or an earnest attempt to feed the fantasies of a vanishingly obscure market niche that would have flown under radar cover in the lost world before do-it-yourself Web porn? Or is it something more profound—a campy, tongue-in-cheek exorcism of our cultural anxieties about genetic hybrids and human-animal transplants in the age of pigs with human hemoglobin and babies with baboon hearts?
Caveat: That’s what I’m contracted to speak about, in any event. As always, there’s a better than even chance I may just go off on some hairy-eyed rant about one of my current obsessions, such as: pathological masculinity in America, the country that brought you warporn, gorenography (a.k.a. “torture porn” in the Saw and Hostel vein), The Passion of the Christ (considered as Foucauldian fever dream), Ted Haggard, Larry Craig, and 300, that dyspeptic mix of homophobia and homophilia whose target demographic seems to be the sweet spot between Michael Savage and Tom of Finland.
Consider yourselves forewarned. And come up and tug on my sleeve if you make it to this thing.