Florian Cramer and Stewart Home
Crash conference paper, Feb. 11, 2005
Program code is like pornography. It has linear logic, but no
meaning. There is an accumulation of things already known. The
focus is always on the same explicit facts. Repetition and boredom
(Adapted from a Neoist slogan)
Art is sanctioned pornography.
1 We demand a
Capitalist "progress" destroys the imagination
through a frenzy of the visible. What we see we no longer need to
imagine. A a famous zero from the popsicle academy was once moved to
write that every time a man had an erection it was a triumph of the
imagination. Power to the imagination, and to sex - for they are one
and the same thing. Pornographers of the world close your eyes. You
have nothing to lose but your bodily fluids! It is time to
decondition ourselves by going beyond the known world.
The shamans of old ingested psychedelic mushrooms, and today we
are further armed with a battery of chemically synthesised drugs
including ecstasy and LSD. These psychedelics are psychic elevators
that can power us through the seven levels of human consciousness.
The first four levels of consciousness can be reached in ordinary
everyday life. Level Five requires either chemical assistance or long
hours of arduous interaction with your computer, and when you hit
this level sexual activity is vastly enhanced. Once you go above
Level Five consciousness you don't necessarily need coitus.
Indeed, at Level Six you are telepathic and sexually combined with
your fellow hackers, and this integration is even greater at Level
Seven (aka total fucking zero and one pornography).
Drugs and code are the ancient and modern tools with which we
can investigate our own minds while turning our bodies into one vast
erogenous zone. Our message to purveyours of representational porn is
HANDS OFF (OUR) EJACULATIONS (both male and female). WE WANT TO CUM
IN ALL THE COLOURS OF ALL THE FLAGS OF ALL THE CONSULATES. As an
initiated shaman Jean Cocteau was able to come through the sheer
power of his imagination, he could do this without using his hands to
manipulate his genitals. Let's keep our hands free to imput date
on our computer terminals and use the convulsive power of codes to
bring us to orgasm.
2 Pornography as
The effectiveness of art is generally hard to judge.
Pornography as one of the arts creates ecstatic perception,
triggering arousal only through symbolic codes. Cybersex is by no
means new, porn is its oldest device. Computation and programming
have likewise been known in pornography for centuries. In the 120
Days of Sodom, Sade imagines a ceaseless execution of coded game
rules. There is no single point of originality, but only combinations
computed out of a set of sex partners and their organs. Porn as
speculative programming has been long neglected. Along the lines of
.walk by socialfiction.org, we demand
psychogeographical computers built from pornographic imagination and
shamanic sex acts.
Carl van Bolen, author of The History of Eroticism
(1966) and Eduard Fuchs, author of The History of Erotic
Art, coin a programming language of Greek-Latin terms for those
combinations. But only with modern day commercial pornography do
those exhaustive computations became real. A mainstream porn video
shop like Erotic Video Service in Berlin with its 24,000
tapes and DVDs for rent [http://www.evs-video.de] could
be called a pornographic Library of Babel, based on a brute force
algorithm of sheer masses of data. The poets of the French Oulipo
group, the "workshop of potential literature," which from
the 1960s onwards explored algorithmics and formal restraints in
writing, announced a chapter for pornography, Oupornpo, but this
seems to have remained a dirty old man's joke. Contemporary
writer Simon Strong makes up for it in his forthcoming novel
66mindfuck99 for which he created "a list of criteria
defining legal and extra-legal sex acts," arranging them with
help of a spreadsheet to what he calls "an optimal set of erotic
Does the potential of pornography exhaust itself in the simple
mechanics of sexual combinations? Surely not, although we want to
show that it is too easy to sweepingly denounce this approach.
Through its minimal variations in endless repetition, it is clear
that pornography has become purely parodic, in other words, that each
pornographic coupling, scene, image becomes the parody of another, or
the same in a deceptive form. Ever since pornography started to
circulate, an effort at total identification has been made, because
each pornographic detail ties one operation to another. All
pornography would be visibly connected if one could discover at a
single glance and in its totality the tracings of Ariadne's
thread leading pornographic codes into their own labyrinth. But their
coupling is no less irritating than the copulation of bodies. And
when I scream I AM PORNOGRAPHIC, an integral erection results,
because the mere verb "to be" is the vehicle of sexual
3 Pornography in
Stewart Home's fiction
I included large chunks of repetitive pornography in novels
such as Blow Job and Cunt because few publishers
would consider putting out books of fiction that were less than sixty
thousand words long. By including essentially the same pornographic
scene on every other page I only.needed to write about thirty
thousand words. Bergson claimed that repetition was the basis of all
humour and I certainly found using it as a device to expand my books
to a length that was acceptable to the publishing industry
side-splittingly funny. I was also convinced that if anyone was
sexually aroused by my pornographic material (some of which was
lifted directly from out-of-copyright sources) then that was a
tremendous achievement. It's a demonstration of shamanic power to
be able to laugh and have an orgasm at the same time. The imagery I
used in my early novels was shamanic too, it was conceived as a
revelation of the true nature and scope of the unconscious, a sudden
shift away from the standpoint of the atomised individual to the
point of view of the entire cosmic movement: a `timeless psychedelic
moment' in which the universe is experienced in the act of waking
up and becoming aware of itself. One could find the beginnings of the
cosmic metaphors I used in pulp fiction, where characters having sex
might be described as no longer in control of their bodies because
`the DNA had taken over'. I sought to extent such imagery until
it was on a par with the visions of the shamans of old. In order to
do this I would write about DNA codes being scrambled and unscrambled
across the muscular structure structure of my bulk, about the sexual
act leading me to imagine myself as the first amphibian to emerge
from the sea and feel the warmth of the sun on my back, about
genetically encoded memoires of the first star exploding and about
being out on the mudflats of pre-history...
4 The eroticism
I.I.I.I am. My identity. Mine. I exchange it with another and
step outside where the sun is shining. Another person walks up to me
and gives me some words. I respond by giving her some pleasure I have
If you use words often enough they become interchangeable.
Infinity, limitation, enthusiasm, depression, imagination,
concretion. Give me back pleasure. I need to get more words with it.
Chasing your mind's tail, the back of your image unfolds into
warm breeze. Throaty sound and smell of petal marshland. Five minute
stare into eyes of another being. Breaking the silence, I say "I
wanna go down on you." Stepping back and removing pleasure,
giving words. Is this porn?
Pornography. The mind is pornographic. I shape the word
"cunt" in it, only to prove to myself that there is
obscenity. Cities, streets, romantic dreams of the perfect dirty
image flickering like a single frame of film. Slow down the
projection and blink while you watch it.
5 Pornography in
Pornography in dreams
Pornography in books
Pornography in cars
Pornography in advertising
And everywhere repression
Repressed living as the expression of everyday life
Free your mind and your ass will follow
Pick it up, let it move, make it happen
Go with the code
Arm yourself with drugs, magic and computing
Fuck with fucking and drift into abstraction
Zeros and ones turn me on
6 Pornography in
Computing has been sexual ever since John von Neumann, the
creator of modern-day computer architecture, conceived of
self-replicating automata. Nowadays, they translate into computer
viruses and the rhetoric of preventing infection uses the same
concepts and terminology as rhetoric about preventing sexually
transmitted diseases. Computer users know that the electronic message
"I love you" is just as true as its non-electronic
equivalent, meaning in reality "I want to fuck with you."
If codes can fuck your computer, where's the porn that
Porn, of course, flows through computers in abundance, and
software has been adapted to it. The Linux-based image and video
display program "pornview" is, according to its manual,
optimized "for unattended presentation of images for hands-free
DVD videos can have multiple camera angles, a technical feature
created to cater to the porn industry and its customers. The image
rendering component of the free Mozilla browser originally was called
"libpr0n," "pr0n" being hacker code speak for
"porn." Another GNU/Linux program, "driftnet"
taps into a local computer network and displays all images that
co-workers are currently browsing. The developers of the program
recommend that "if you are possessed of Victorian sensibilities,
and share an unswitched network with others who are not, you should
probably not use it."
But in these examples, the pornography remains outside the
software itself. Obscenity on program code level exists, too, but
doesn't necessarily render the running software obscene or
pornographic. The Linux kernel, for example, contains the word
"fuck" 56 times in its sourcecode:
arch/sparc/kernel/process.c: /* fuck me plenty
arch/sparc/kernel/head.S: /* XXX Fucking
arch/sparc/kernel/sunos_ioctl.c: /* Binary compatibility is good
American knowhow fuckin' up. */
arch/sparc/kernel/ptrace.c:/* Fuck me gently with
a chainsaw... */
arch/ppc/syslib/ppc405_pci.c: * the kernel try to remap our BAR #1
and fuck up bus
arch/sparc64/kernel/binfmt_aout32.c: /* Fuck me
arch/sparc64/kernel/traps.c: /* Why the fuck did
they have to change this? */
arch/sparc64/mm/init.c: /* Fucking losing PROM has
more mappings in the TLB, but
arch/i386/kernel/cpu/cpufreq/powernow-k7.c: * Some Athlon laptops
have really fucked PST tables.
arch/i386/kernel/cpu/mtrr/generic.c:/* Some BIOS's are
fucked and don't set all MTRRs the same!
arch/mips/kernel/irixioctl.c: * irixioctl.c: A
arch/mips/kernel/irixelf.c:#if 0 /* XXX No fucking
But Linux hardly fucks anything in operation. Another example
of non-operational code-level pornography is the ASCII pr0n genre,
pornographic images drawn as typograms:
/' `\/ `.
. .' : `. `.
\\.' , `.` `.
`. ,___/|\. `. :
. \, .'./ ' '\ , '
.\ . \_.~ _; ; \/'.
`\ ..._`. : /.. ../
/' _._ \. ~ .' `\:
/'.'@ ` .---. `.
.' : ' @ `.\. \
/ ./`.._./ ~ . :\ `. __
.' / ( \....' `. .' /' `.
/'''\ .' `. / \ : ;' .' ..:
.' ; `\; : : : : .' : ; :
: `\. `\. ; : \.' " ' ;
`. `. \ / s . / `. .'
` . `. `\ `. ; /' ;___ ;
`. `. `. ` ; ;:__..'
`. `. `. :` ': _.' .' ; :
`. `. .\x./-`--...../' ; :
`. ..-:..-' ( :
`---'`. `; :
`. `,.. : :
`. `. `.___;
Originally a hack to bring visual pornography into the world of
alphanumerical computer terminals, they became ironic retro chic in
1990s net art, above all in "Deep ASCII," a typographic
rendering of the movie "Deep Throat."1
"Prograsm," which the hacker "Jargon File"
defines as the "euphoria experienced upon the completion of a
program or other computer-related project," is another example
of ecstasy outside the running program. However, a concept of
prograsm that involves the code and the process has existed since the
Middle Ages in ecstatic Kabbalah. The oldest known kabbalistic book
Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Creation) contains mathematical
combinatorics, and Kabbalists like Abraham Abulafia practiced
computational readings of the Torah as a sexually ecstatic technique.
In an 18th century autobiography, Salomon Maimon tells us how he
"the name Jehova represents [...] the person of the Godhead
generis masculini, while the word Koh means [...] the person of the
Godhead generis feminini, and the word Amar denotes sexual union.
The words 'Koh amar Jehovah,' 'Thus saith the
Lord,' I therefore explained as follows: [...] an actual union
of these divine spouses took place from which the whole world might
expect a blessing."
In other words, the Kabbalah imagines God as able to fuck
himself by the virtue of his male and female attributes, in the
medium of the words put down in the Torah. The Torah becomes
pornographic writing, a code whose execution generates divine
Duchamp's The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors,
Even can be read as another auto-erotic obscene and pornographic
mechanism, secularized however as modern art. Still more secularized
are the corresponding technologies that exist in computing today,
such as the "Brainfuck" programming language and program
code recursion, code executing itself in strange loops, a key
structure among others in the programming language LISP. While this
code is, by its nature, a pure formalism, its coupling is no less
irritating than the copulation of bodies. When I scream I AM THE
PROGRAM, an integral erection results, because the verb to be is the
vehicle of obscene frenzy, bastardizing the formalism of the software
and my informal being to a dirty code.
Reroute via gender strippage [simple cognitive shift
allocation], strip to the violence inducer core and wipe with a
pseudo stroke. Instruction: Regenderate the Mis][s][User.
7 Towards an Open
*0.48! Figure *0.5! Figure
Sample image from
Richard Kern: SuicideGirls is a mystery to me because I thought
only women ran the site.
DRE: Does that make a difference?
Richard Kern: I had heard from various models from there that
my type was not liked there because I was a guy exploiting women
and SuicideGirls is a feminist site. No matter what anyone says its
still naked girls and still guys checking them out. There are girls
checking in also but a lot of guys too. It's the same thing no
matter how you cut it.2
No doubt, indie porn is the pornography of this decade, if not
of the whole century. Beyond that, it appears to be the first
significant new cultural movement of the millennium. It has replaced
net.art as the aesthetic avant-garde of the Internet. Websites like
combine the punk styling of their models with visual punk aesthetics
and do-it-yourself punk attitude.3 The site http://www.indienudes.com
lists more related sites and resources.4 It thus seems as if
there is finally a non-industrial and erotically imaginative
pornography for hetero- and bisexuals, after the avant-garde of
lesbian and gay pornography had reached the same level already in the
early 1990s, with magazines like "On Our Backs" and porn
video labels like Cazzo Productions.
In reality, indie porn is just like indie pop. It pretends to
be different from the industry, but works with the same business
model. Just as punk and indie pop saved the music industry in the
1980s and 1990s, indie porn will save the porn industry of today. It
is the research and development arm of the porn industry. An industry
that otherwise would go bankrupt because everyone freely shares its
products on the Internet.5
Most indie porn sites are based on software and editorial
formats created in independent net cultures, most of all, weblogs.
Central to the aesthetics of indie porn is a concept of the
authentic. Not only are the models unmodified by surgery - except for
tattoos and piercings - and Photoshop. They are also accessible in
chats, personal blogs and homepages, a key feature of most indie porn
sites. They thus produce a simulacrum of the "real" that is
no different from the popular genre of industrial pseudo amateur
pornography. The rough look and production values of indie porn not
only simulates authenticity, it also is a means of cutting production
costs and outsourcing labor when, for example on the site http://www.ishotmyself.com,
the models become their own photographers.
Glamour and synthetic cyber pornography as well as hentai anime
are more radical than indie porn because they show sexual alienation
openly and make no attempt at clouding the fact that authentic
moments can't be found in them. Just like mainstream pop star
Michael Jackson is ultimately more subversive than The Manic Street
Preachers, commercial pornography is superior to indie porn because
it offers less for the imagination to work with. By offering more
variation in the imagery, indie porn preempts and thereby erodes
imagination. A digital pornography that would strive for true honesty
and imagination should reduce rather than increase its visual
imagination. In the end, it should present itself as nothing but
code, teaching us to get off on mere zeros and ones, thus overcoming
the false dichotomy of the artificial and the authentic.
Against commercial indie porn we demand a truly independent,
open source pornography. Pornography should be made by all, a
radically populist pornography of collectively produced, purely
formal codes. This pornography will reconcile rationality and
instinct and overcome alienation because the codes will have to be
reconstituted into sexual imaginations by the right side of brain.
Software, reconceived as a dirty code crossbred of formalism and
subjectivity, will be the paradigm of this pornography, a code that
sets processes into motion.6
An open source porn
Turning her image into
code increases its shamanistic pornographic quality
1by the ASCII Art Ensemble around Vuc
Cosic and Luka Frelih.
2Richard Kern interviewed by Daniel
Robert Epstein, http://suicidegirls.com/words/Richard+Kern/
3http:///www.nerve.com is a
highbrow forerunner of these sites, creating
"sophisticated" porn for an intellectual audience.
4The sites http://www.ishotmyself.com
straightforwardly translate avant-garde art concepts into porn
business models; the former features models who take pictures of
themselves, the latter plagiarizes Andy Warhol's "Blow
Job" movie by merely showing faces of persons who have an
5Richard Kern says about mainstream porn
magazines in the same interview: "I shoot for them only
occasionally now because that business isnt what it used to be. [...]
A lot of the point mags are going out of business. They dropped the
pay tremendously and its all because of the internet. I used to go
out once a month to LA and shoot for one week. Id make a ton of money
then come back to New York and do whatever I wanted."
6A rare example of such dirty porn code
are the writings of Australian codework artist mez.