Arse Electronika Probes The New Pron World: Arts and Technology + Bonus Features for a 21st Century Smorgasbord of Pleasures Impaled By A Newly Roused Market


We’re still looking for the quote, but we think it was Roland Topor who once said his worst nightmare would be to have his stomach turned inside-out.

dessins topor

But then there’s Pron, that simulated red-lit back-alley bardo of perpetually unfinished business where technology and porn commingle and conceive. And when the marketplace reaches into your sexuality as far as those elongating product-lusting fingers can go, it might very well be that orgasmic fluids come to resemble a new gastric juice served up more horror and fantasy-fresh than anything Topor might have dreamed.


Well at least there’s an art group with a sense of humor about Pron. The Viennese collective Monochrom are back in San Francisco to probe the sex industry’s latest trends with a weekend- long conference on porn and technological innovation, called Arse Electronika. Check Laughing Squid for the details. The fact that it hasn’t provoked any response is a bit reminiscent of the last SF Dorkbot we attended where the conference was first publicly announced. Very few SF “gadget art” scensters are in on the prank that this is riffing off one of Europe’s most touted festivals for arts and technology, Ars Electronica, and anyway, they all sorta swallowed whole this ridiculous (and sad) presentation by a local sex toy “hacker”, which was about as subversive as … another porn start-up, which it was!

But Monochrom’s text on the subject suggests intriguing possible directions, and a handful of sociological heavy-hitters are on the speakers list like Mark Dery on Saturday, who may be able to adequately stir up the techno-commodities fetish taken to its logical frankenstein-meets-triple-X extremes. And then there’s more than a few sexpert types thrown into the mix who will tend to play a bit of a role as industry ( and self- ) lubricators like so many new age writers did for all those pseudo-ethno-religious prosthetics boutiques for the spiritual amputees of Mall-ville, USA. And it will be very unlikely that the setting provided by’s Porn Palace will produce any wild mental mud-wrestling between these two sides… but we will be fantasizing.

Sweet Movie

Where’s Dusan Makavejev when you need him?! Is there any artist/director around today who could get a Time magazine writer so terrorized by a fully-armed sexual politics work of art as to call their film “a disease”? Another reviewer attempting to disparage his 1974 Sweet Movie described it as a missing link between Pasolini’s Salo and John Water’s Pink Flamingos, which seemed to unconconciously at least grasp its potent relevance. What we need now is someone to deconstruct the bridge perhaps from the Wachowskis’ Matrix to Silicon Valley-style tele-dildonics paving the way for military play-station erotica and data-mined consumer circle-jerks.

We were about to describe the full assault of one of Dusan’s most volatile films, but just go watch it and have your world laid truly and obscenely bare like no Un-art porn will ever do, because that would be revealing a key to the rage at having seen your desires so manipulated and exploited.

Makavejev's Sweet Movie

And finally this juxtaposition, an excerpt of an interview with the graphic novel giant Alan Moore upon release of his experiment and collaboration with Melinda Gebbie in erotic/porn comics. Lost Girls was 16 years in the making, and from his thoughts on the subject appears to have much much more to do with art than commerce, and is a million miles from the technological mindfuck.

lost girls

Alan Moore: One of the reasons we started this was because we were sick of the approach to sex in the culture. It seemed to us unhealthy, unproductive, and unbeautiful. In countries like the U.S. and Great Britain, we exist in a wholly sexualized culture, where everything from cars to snack food are sold with a slathering of sex to make them more commercially appealing. But if you’re using sex to sell sneakers, then you’re not just selling sneakers, you’re selling sex as well, and you’re contributing to the sexual temperature of society. You’re going to get people who, unsurprisingly, become overheated in that kind of sexual environment, and if they attempt to assuage their desires by resorting to the widely available medium of pornography, they’re going to have their moment of gratification, and then they’re going to have a much longer period of self-loathing, disgust, shame and embarrassment. It’s almost like a kind of a reverse Skinner-box experiment, where once the rat has pushed the lever and successfully received the food, then he gets the electric shock.

See the full interview here.

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