title: How to Watch Pornography

image: window with mirrors
Paul Preciado: But first I think we should start to think about: what is pornography? We should look at pornography together, bring pornography to the school, decodify pornography, start to talk much more about pornography.

image: backwards man up escalator, backwards train, then stills.
image: naked bicycle rider
Hortense Spiller: The question of touch. To be at hand without mediation or interference/might be considered the gateway to the most intimate experience and exchange between subjects.

image: green night vision gay porn backroom
Karen Barad: When two hands touch there is a sensuality of the flesh, an exchange of warmth, a feeling of pressure, presence, a proximity of otherness that brings the other nearly as close as oneself.

And if the two hands belong to one person, might this not enliven an uncanny sense of the otherness of self, a literal ‘holding oneself at a distance,’ in the sensation of contact, the greeting of the stranger within.

So much happens in a touch. An infinity of others, other beings, other spaces, other times are browsed.

When two hands touch how close are they? What is the measure of closeness? Which disciplinary formations, political parties, religious and cultural traditions, infectious disease authorities, immigration officials and policy makers do not have a stake in, if not a measured answer, to this question.

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Rizvana Bradley: Spiller’s study of the flesh is framed by her precise distinction between the body and flesh.

She writes quote I would make a distinction in this case between body and flesh, and impose that distinction as the central one between captive and liberated subject positions. End quote. For Spiller, the captive body is marked by an absence from its subject position, it is a completely abject and powerless body. The flesh, however, is distinct and prior to the body. Moreover the body can be written, the flesh cannot.

image: lady fucked by bike. guy pisses himself on bike.
Rizvana Bradley: Technology as a form of mediated touch, and as a violent substitute for touch. How do we think about the operation and function of technology meant to trace material and ephemeral signfiers that betray the evidence of social annihilation? How to think about the violence of technological touch by proxy, as a way of countering the elusive and illusory state military apparatus?

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Linda Williams: And then I discovered that the real mystery of pornography is how do you represent pleasure in a visual way that will please the bodies of the viewers.

image: (night vision man standing at building, body cells, black eye)
Erin Manning: You will be organized. You will be an organism.

These are words through which the body politic of the nation state tends to operate. These are words that underpin the discourse of the secure body. Some bodies are easier to secure than others. My lesbian body, my gay body, my diseased body, my female body, my aged body, my neuro-diverse body, my black body. These bodies are more costly. But even these bodies are useful to the state. They make possible the insecurity on which the need for security is predicated. Be secure. Conform. Even your distorted body can be taken into the fold.

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Godard: I just make films. I’m interested in facts, given my age. What’s interesting about a fact is not just what’s happening but what’s not happening. And the two go together. You have to link them together. You can’t just talk about what’s happening. People talk more about what’s happening not about what’s not happening. And what’s not happening can lead to a total disaster. I can’t say much more.

Image: women masturbating
Paul Preciado: Pornography, and I don’t know if you would agree with me, is a technique of pleasure production.

It’s a very interesting political technique. It’s a visual technique, that at first was drawing, and then became photography, and then cinema and then video and then internet and so on. It’s always been at the head of technological change. It’s a visual technique that produces pleasure. It’s a masturbating technique. I think that historically what defines pornography is the way in which women – and now I’m going to use the term. I’m not saying we can’t use the notion of women, we’ve been assigned when we were born, we’re constantly being told you’re a woman you’re a man. I’m saying that as a political subject we have the right to say I don’t want to comply with that regime. It doesn’t mean that we don’t know that we’re constructed and assigned as men and women. What defines pornography, historically, is that way in which women and sexual minorities, have been excluded from pornography as subject of pleasure. Meaning women and sexual minorities have been the object of the presentation of pornography. But the only one that could actually take pleasure out of the image was the white heterosexual male and later the gay male subject. The big question with pornography is: who is taking control of that really powerful technique for producing pleasure.

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Erika Lynae: When most people think about porn, they think about the ubiquitous free porn sites: sites, like Pornhub, YouPorn, Redtube, etc. But what most people don’t realize is that most of the top free porn sites are owned by one company called MindGeek. And the ones that aren’t are for the most part just cloning MindGeek’s model. So when you do a general search for porn the top results you get aren’t going to be a fair representation of the industry. They’re going to be a homogenized selection of what a single corporation believes its target audience ie straight men, want. Imagine only getting one TV channel and thinking that say Fox News is representative of all television.

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Darrell Sanchez: Every new form of technology – there’s a new outlet for making porn more readily available. That means there’s a big household name corporation making money from it. Which is why the mobile phone companies are technically now the biggest purveyors of porn on the high street. To find out just how much money is being made I went to see mobile phone analyst Windsor Holden. Is there much in the market for this, for watching porn on your phone? Last year the market was worth something like 1.7 billion dollars.

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Clarissa Smith: On one level you’re actually seeing, you’re getting all of the action it’s authentically sex. But it’s real and it’s really happening and it’s on camera now. That’s one kind of authenticity. And then there’s the other kind which I think is very much tied up with fem porn and porn for women which is that these are real people with real emotions who are really engaging and having a great time together and it’s not scripted and it’s real. This is lovely.

image: hazy blow job then man masturbating with plant
Channon Rose: I am in a scene and I’m fingering this girl, right? I’m fingering and I’m feeling something up there and I don’t know what the fuck it is, I’m assuming it’s a sponge, but it doesn’t feel like a sponge, it just feels weird. I’m fingering, I’m fingering. And when I finger girls I do this little hook thing, once it’s in there I make my fingers like a C shape because that hits their G spot and it feels really good. And then I pull my fingers out, something slides out with my fingers, and it happened to be an old condom. I’m like bitch, what the fuck.

At this point the camera stopped rolling. They were like OK cut. They didn’t want that on camera. This was actually a more… how do I say it? There’s different types of porn. There’s really raunchy porn and there’s pretty porn. This is one of the pretty porns. More like sexy not like “Fuck you bitch do you like that shit?” It’s more like “Ooh yeah, do you like that? Does that feel good?” It was more like pretty porn. So when I pull the old condom out of this chick’s vag the pretty porn people were like no, that can’t be in here.

She didn’t even care. She was like Yeah, I’m a gross ass bitch. She knew it was nasty but she didn’t give a fuck. Zero fucks were given. That’s why I really liked her because she was really cool.

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Paul Preciado: What’s happening in the last 25 years, there is a whole movement called post pornography that’s basically about changing the subject of production of pornography, and the subject of pleasure. Women and sexual minorities are reappropriating the techniques for the production of pleasure. I think that’s going to change everything. We won’t see the same images.

image: women in bed superimpositions
sound: Last Time Ever I Saw Your Face song

Karen Barad, Rizvana Bradley
Jean Luc Godard, Mike Hoolboom
Erika Lynae, Erin Manning
Paul Preciado, Channon Rose
Darrell Sanchez, Clarissa Smith
Hortense Spiller, Linda Williams