In England, the tabloid newspaper ‘The Sun’ maintains a 45-year daily institution of showing soft-core pornographic images of topless women on ‘Page 3’ – often right next to images of death, disaster and horror – a recipe which might account for its status as England’s most popular newspaper. This popularity makes ‘The Sun’, (and therefore media mogul Rupert Murdoch himself,) heavyweights in the English political area, both with the electorate and the political classes themselves, and undoubtedly these tens of thousands of breasts featured over the years have been vital building blocks in the consolidation of this media empire.
The online campaign @NoMorePage3 which has called for an end to this institution has so far been rejected by the newspaper, which prefers to see those manifold breasts as being part of the corporate makeup of the publication, monetised by the top global news stories they are served-up with. Convenient for that expedient feeling of mastery that keeps male ‘readers’ hooked and hungry for more, as well as delivering divisive, offensive and utterly ludicrous gender norms to the rest of the English population, ‘Page 3’ is a sort of acceptable sadism for both home and workplace. And yet, this seemingly banal institution which is fixated upon breasts is only the tip of the English misogyny iceberg.
At The Unstitute, we are taking the institutionalised, semi-fascist female body of ‘Page 3’ as the scene of a crime: these breasts, despite how they appear, do not belong to the bodies to which they are attached. They belong to and are disenfranchised by the culture which enriches itself on them, to each subsequent desiring-machine that plugs into them. This body is but a sequence of codes, a social construct in so many ways, a corporate entity or monetising agent in others. Part-fiction, part-biology, post-female, cybernetic, online, disenfranchised, tortured and/or dismembered bodies: each new variant or sequence of varieties acts as a multiplier of the plurality of bodies which we call ‘female’. The Unstitute invites you to come and chew on some of the most exciting discourses on female bodies today...
'Structure, a Violent Fuck' is based on a short text composed from lines of code and sexual spam. The inspiration was a reflection by J.G. Ballard: “Science is the ultimate pornography, analytic activity whose main aim is to isolate objects or events from their contexts in time and space” (The Atrocity Exhibition).
Pornographic images are always out of context, fragmented, as lines of code that isolated don't mean anything but properly connected run a programme or an order. In the case of pornography, the result of that programme or order is always the same: “ejaculate”.
The irony of pornography is that mostly it's just block structure.
Pacifier-pacify (v.) late 15c., "appease, allay the anger of (someone)," from Middle French pacifier "make peace," from Latin pacificare "to make peace; pacify," from pacificus (see pacific). Of countries or regions, "to bring to a condition of calm," c.1500, from the start with suggestions of submission and terrorization. Related: Pacified; pacifying.
Pacifier considers the process of sexualisation in consumer culture using sweets, sex toys and nail art practice dummies. Sexualised commodities transform the consumer from a living breathing sexual body into an erotic spectacle – a surface appeal without substance. Decorative and sexual characteristics efface the other aspects of the body. The commodity-body is fragmented into erotic signs and transforms those who covet it into passive, distracted erotic consumers. The objects in Pacifier are inanimate and bodily; abstractions and simulations at the same time. They are inhuman and yet contaminated by flesh.
The vignettes can be read in terms of classical portraiture or, more disturbingly, as the beheaded trophies of a hunter, implying that the subjects suggested by these still life portraits are victims and decorations as well as sex toys.
‘Warmth is ebbing from things. The objects of daily use gently but insistently repel us. Day to day, in overcoming the sum of secret resistances…that they put in our way, we have an immense labour to perform. We must compensate for their coldness with our warmth if they are not to freeze us to death, and handle their spines with infinite dexterity, if we are not to perish from bleeding…And in the degeneration of things, with which, emulating human decay, they punish humanity, the country itself conspires. It gnaws at us like the things.’(Benjamin, 1997/1928 : 75)
Marx suggested that modes of production within capitalism offered us the promise of the naturalization of humanity and the humanization of nature but result instead in the mechanization of both (Marx and Engels, 2011/1844). They turn us into things that consume and are consumed. Through the consumption of commodities we improve our commodity appeal. Bodies produce display-value; we work at them so they work for us.
Perhaps it is not a coincidence that Binet wrote the article Fetishism in Love, an early account of sexual fetishism, in 1887 when commodity culture offered the promise of material wealth for all – equality through objects. In Binet’s account, female bodily adornments featured prominently as fetishes (quoted in Matlock, 1993). At this time the industrialization of clothing industries had led to an increasing standardization of dress. Garments were mass-produced, and so were the bodies of the people who wore them. Benjamin was particularly interested in fashion because he saw it as the medium that lured sex ever deeper into the inorganic world and the living body into the ‘realm of dead things.’(quoted in Buck-Morss, 1991: 99/100) The cold touch of the commodity literally pressed against the skin and the body succumbed to the ‘biological rigor mortis of eternal youth (quoted in Buck-Morss, 1991: 99/100)’. Psychoanalysis might also consider a devotion to constantly changing fashion to be an unconscious denial of death – or loss of any kind – because items of clothes can be bought, exchanged, worn and discarded. It could suggest that acts can be undone, so damage does not take place and nothing is truly lost. If death, or entropy could be supplanted onto clothing, Benjamin thought that fertility and sexuality were also displaced onto the commodities. The ‘profane glimmer’ of the commodities surface, conceals the emptiness within. The body itself becomes a window display for commodities - a collection of sign-values.
The commodity fetish dazzles and conceals, it draws attention to the surface in order to suppress knowledge. In psychoanalysis knowledge is both acknowledged and denied in the unconscious creation of a fetish. The threatening nature of the whole body is negated through fragmentation or displacement. It is unconsciously thought to be unpredictable - to master it, it must be dehumanized, deadened and turned into a thing. The sexual fetish offers a reduced, compromised form of satisfaction, but it is also its guarantee, because it ‘protects the subject from the worlds non-conformity to desire’s high expectations’ (Gemerchak, 2004: p9).
In Binet’s discussion of fetishism, there is an implied connection between perversion and the commodification of the body. He says: one might say that every adornment and ornament that woman has invented, everything she has imagined as pretty, curious, bizarre and extravagant…has been able to become the occasion of a new fetishism…who can enumerate all the madness caused…by the violent brilliancy of a painted face? (quoted in Matlock, 1993: p39) He goes on to say ‘love, instead of being excited by the whole person, is now excited only by a part. Here the part substitutes for the whole, the attribute becomes the quality.’ (quoted in Gamman and Makinen, 1994: p39).
The sexual allure of the body is displaced onto the commodities adorning the body. A concentration of meaning seems to take place, and the objects used to decorate the body are bestowed with hyperbolic sexual characteristics, transforming them into sexual fetishes. The commodity fetish provokes desire and the sexual fetish partially satisfies it. They coalesce around the body, creating a double disavowal – an unconscious determination not to know, enclosed in surrender to a world of objects. The sexual fetish is both particular and repeatable – as long as the correct type of object can be found the fetishist will be satisfied. In the world of mass production fetishism could be seen as an ideal perversion.
This form of self-fetishisation also regulates the expectations and desires of others. It pacifies and offers a compromise. It is fundamentally reductive but the consumer is also reduced in this process, becoming a passive, pre-determined form of desiring being that can be packaged and reproduced. The image is seamless – a commodity fetish which conceals a sexual fetish which in turn conceals the commodification of desire.
Dawn Woolley, 2013
Bibliography: Benjamin, W., Jephcott, E., Shorter, K., 1997. (1928) One-Way Street, and Other Writings. Verso: London and New York. Buck-Morss, S., 1991. The Dialectics of Seeing: Walter Benjamin and the Arcades Project. MIT Press: Massachusetts. Gamman, L., Makinen, M., 1994. Female Fetishism: A New Look. Lawrence & Wishart Ltd: London. Gemerchak, C.M. (Ed.), 2004. Preface, Everyday Extraordinary: Encountering Fetishism with Marx, Freud and Lacan (Figures of the Unconscious). Gemerchak, C.M. (Ed.), Leuven University Press. Pp7-12 Marx, K. and Engels, F., 2011 (1844). Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844. Wilder Publications: Virginia. Matlock, J,. 1993. ‘Masquerading Women, Pathologized Men: Cross-Dressing, Fetishism, and the Theory of Perversion, 1882-1935’ Fetishism as Cultural Discourse. Apter, E., Pletz, W. (Eds.), Cornell University Press: New York. Pp31-61
Kayleigh O'Keefe is a contemporary artist engaging with themes of body confidence, identity and alienation through performance and film. She has collaborated with artists, filmmakers and non-performers, produced and directed immersive live art events for the Pink Bear Club and distributed her performance art videos to an online audience.
Flabzilla subverts the concept of the monstrous fatty and plays with common perceptions of an ‘othered’ physique. A morbidly obese behemoth rises from the sea and uses her body mass to attack the city of London, which is built entirely from cardboard and packaging tape. Treading a fine line between grotesque and sex, weighty flesh and physical power clash with intricately crafted landmarks until all is destroyed.
the feminine role in creation is directly linked to poetics of origin, practices of carrying life, discovering the original place or the space of original production. according this, colonialism and euro-centrism are opposed to "terra incognita", land of the post-colonial freedom and the social revolution. "mater naturans" is understood as the origin and definition of creativity, memory and sign on the space. so then, art has developed practices that are capable of bringing back the heterotopy to life, death into life. regarding techno-science, technology and feminisms and the participation of women in technology, there is a part of gender art practices that ended in queer or pornoterrorism. really convulsing beauty and bodies of decay, trans-gender, cross-boundaries, and practice experience as a lively methodology. most of the artists and main figures are developers of devices, using electronic do it yourself circuit bending, open source and free culture.
medial ages is a performace influenced by theories of postmodernism, postcolonialism, relies in the aesthetics of noise, it is supported by cybernetics and the relations between art, science and technology. it is influenced by political art, activism, hacktivism, human rights and policies of heritage. it offers the possibility to transform reality into a more humanitarian, more ethical and balanced environment. the abuse of power, the tendencies of production and the own profits are provoking the awareness of damage. extinction and fragility are oppressed and restricted. open culture offers a different view from those who are the elite.
artists give solutions to constantly obliterated situations. the project born from the experience achieved in international cooperation on post-communist countries of africa where the struggle and socialist vindication for basic needs make the unheard voices becomes a social hub to facilitate the social equality. work with sound resources as speeches or sound archives allow reviewing this historical process. his intention is to make history based on strategies such as hacking, copy-art or appropriation. the fall of the soviet regime and the dismemberment of the communist bloc are also influences. meanwhile in europe during the 80's, exploits the cybernetics and the domestic technology. but southern countries still face harsh, corrosive militarized dictatorship. decolonization processes culminate in the end of the cold war. but it is not the struggle for the scope of the space, not the advancement of communication technologies neither the implantation of internet networks nor the postmodernism in the direction of flow and connectivity. medial ages is an experiential environment that attempts to reconfigure the dictatorships with photojournalism and expanded video-art. it creates a video-footage from archives, magazines, journalism and appropriated images from the press, agencies like reuters, and others free media journalist. it takes them to create a political content video-footage from social struggles, like barricades, banlieus, riots, citizens’ demonstrations. the selection of the images creates an iconoclastic figure for the population. it means that analysing shape and figure, it never displays a hero, or a figure standing alone. this corresponds to the general idea against leaders, icon or mainstream. it is because the occidental culture has been erected from the idea of the icon against the masses. here influences from gericault or delacroix. medial ages faces with the inherent problems of representing the cancerous cycle of war, striking the material consequences of the traces of the conflict on the landscape. exploitation of mines and material resources, gold, diamonds, coltan or fiber senses, are designing structures for war and territorial invigilated landscapes of control and punishment. it documents images of rebels and human rights violations shown in a traditional realism, in a way that attempts to overturn and see beneath the surface. it uses an aesthetic approach that considers problematic imagery. documentary photography engages with the unseen, hidden and intangible aspects. within a cinematographic style of long tracking shot resulting in a spectral, disembodied gaze film. the piece haunts a visceral soundscape in a diy noise composition.
medial ages is an exploration into sound. concepts and techniques are studied. it refers to definitions of sound: frequencies and spectrum. sound is one of the eco-systems that give us an experience of knowledge of the reality. the system of sound consists on a frequency of spectra. its form has been described as circular, non-linear, disorganized, self-organized, chaotic, indeterminate, random. it is defined as a complex and dynamic system. it is interactive, unpredictable and haphazard. it is immanent and immaterial, too. it follows theories of sight and sound, neuroscience studies and definitions of cybernetic noise. it follows norbert wiener and marshall mcluhan as primary authors. it is also influenced by the definition of quiasma, the point in the nervous systems where more than one nerves cross over each other. the xshaped structure formed at this point below the brain where the two nerves collide. in practice, it will be developed as an experimental sound device emulating functions of the brain and its senses, as the computer machines does. in this occasion we reproduce a biological system that reshapes the sensory functions of hearing.
medial ages is based on the theories of morphic field by alfred rupert sheldrake and falsation of science by frank popper. and, also parapsychology, morphic resonance, cell biology, telepaty -types interconnections, paranormal subjects, remote vision, precognition, pseudoscience, inconsistency in genetics and embryology, new age guru deepak chopra, alternative medicine, psychic phenomena, holistic thinking, black magic and makonde art.
during my childhood i travelled around african countries, where the movements of black liberation had taken place. after the 70’s processes of liberation and independence, there were still some war conflicts after the russian perestroika, in 1989. the support of the international communism from russia ended with the fallen of the wall. those countries, which had received support and help, were abandoned and immediately civil wars exploded there. after being a passerby citizen in mozambique, angola and south africa, i was devoted to study its history. reading the complex map of post-colonial africa make me understand how archetypical roles are fundamental to construct the ideology of power. this is a reason why i configure a different aesthetic next to understand the process of constructing power. in that sense, i erase all unique figure in the images collected, because my interest is not the iconic ideology, but the more specific context of surrounding, the environment of humans or the landscape of materiality. in these historical processes, i also do a research about the history of acquiring material in mines, land and earth.
medial ages works using historical sound archives that have been fundamental for the history. an attempt to go beyond a "reviewing process", in my opinion, is what medial ages offers as a potential "appropriation art". work with sound resources as speeches or sound archives allow me to review the historical process. working with open media implies a new way of thinking the mainstream representation. the reproduction processes of historical memory reinforce power structures. the obliterated voices, those that have been silenced by memory processes enhanced by mass media communication, could be reinserted in the collective imagination through new voices. this process facilitates the preservation of deranged, annihilated or exterminated social groups, different ethnics and quite often oppressed ideologies. to work for the rehabilitation of the libertarian thought using sound techniques, popular music or political speech, is an aesthetical and ethical resolution that confronts the unified figure of an icon of power. these strategies are trying to demolish unified mainstream culture represented by god, king or dictatorships. and that is why it uses appropriation in its style. to work with sounds and images already taken finishes with the idea of the authorship and moreover opens a process to represent the social group or the community.
there is a great satisfaction to present medial ages. on one side, there is the sound. i work with speech and discourse. i use echoes, reverbs and high frequencies, processes of manipulating sound that permit to underline very particular ideas or sounds, those that are striking thoughts about freedom or struggle, but also samples that create an idea of gaze, spectrum or deeper life. but, on the other side, there are the images. the selection of the images creates an iconoclastic figure for the population. once a lecture of the shape and figure is done, it never displays a hero or a unique figure standing alone, but a community. this corresponds to the general idea against leaders, icons or mainstream culture. it is because the occidental culture has been erected from the idea of the icon against the masses.
live audiovisual has been the most important media i have found in my career. i am based in electronic art and i cannot understand an artwork responding to the contemporary social conditions that does not include a sense of movement, change, music and image in movement. also, i am interested in collective works, working in group, rather than presenting unique solo artists. there is an important fact and is the use of diy instruments in live performances.
pregarding references, i have a background in history, sociology and anthropology. my art is based in political activism, those movements from the 60s and 70s. artists that were involved in the de-colonialism process. art from south-america or central-america: guerrilla action group, group material and those more contemporary such as the activism of pussy riot. giving a response to economic and social transformation, artists’ collectives re-activate local processes with apolitical manifestations to improve their conditions. at the same time, tendencies in underground music and anti-establishment culture arises altogether with actions against vietnam war in the united states of america the history of oppressed culture encounters a social expression in blues, folk and rock and roll music. the industry production in the southern coast replaces the logical discourse of new christians, because the new deal and the wealth after 2nd world war. blues music and rock roll fuses into new tendencies such noise rock, psychobilly and the uses of first synthesizers. the history of electronic music and techno introduces new sound, rhythms and music modulations that contribute to the understandings of factors such as anti-mainstream industry and power of ideology. bands and music from the 70s like silver apples, velvet underground, neu!, can, and the experimentation with electronic music and techno culture are main influence in my work.
finally, medial ages proposed an ethical-aestetical that belong to ontologies of sound. artistic creation develops practices and projects ressembling ritual. ritual is as a source of knowledge; protects and defends sustainable development; is linked to preservation and conservation, it responds to heritage policies adding a new condition that implies magic and relativism. either practices of heritage and ontology appear in ritual where sound has a central order. the ontological dimension of sound as a media will be used as an auditory anthropological phenomena, sound as a media is used as well in environmental practices, artistic expression and community practices. supernatural phenomena and mysteries of origins will be presented in practices that use sound as a media, in addition to creations with expressions of ceremony or ritual. this magical ritual of origins are usually composed with sounds and expression where sound is used as a media and contribute to the formation of cultural expressions, such primitivism, exotics, indigenous. these definitions should be understood as a positive feature but not as a racial, pejorative or inferior condition in expressions of identity of cultural phenomena. those sound phenomena relating to ritual and origins are also subjected to preservation policies. this soundscapes, where natural and artificial are differentiated, study the impact on environament. stressing the opposition to western culture’s primacy of the visual, defined by marshall mcluhan, schafer defines expression of the artistic as metaphysical and social. culture is an expression of identity, individually or socially. using sound as a media in the manifestation of cultural life is understood the identity formation in a glocal (global – local) level. so, they are universal narratives , possible expressions of cultural soundscapes, in order to preserve and build heritage. covering culture opens to ritual and performative expression of cultural identities, accepting the diverse and the difference. ontology and auditory anthropology appear as an expression of praxis in performance. preservation policies of heritage and museums will include works which sound appears as a media. these policies will be based on auditory anthropology methodology, ethnomusicology and sound studies. opposed to western visual primacy, the interpretation of sound will be defined as a response in ontological processes of knowledge. in addition, ethnography will approach to study sound as a sensorial process. sound studies are incorporating interdisciplinary medias where the symbiosis of sound with other categories such anthropological theory enriches the field of knowledge and ontological experience in cultural expressions. applied auditory anthropology to theory and conceptualism will be a field of research in preservation policies. it will also consider phenomena such inner voices, imagined music or auditory hallucinations. western think is based in visual physicality, but animism and ontologies are based in discontinuous interiority; mind, soul, monadic existence, too. animism and ontological systems are based in interiority perception. human bodies are inherent perceptual organizations forming diverse cultural behaviour. festivities and ritual have its origin on it. naturalism and animism are cultural constructions based in the physicality of the body and the soul interiority and most of them are connected through sound. one extended phenomena is voice, physical or interior. ontology is then formed by sonic structures of thought, like voice in rituals. ontologies of sound will oppose visual primacy to sound, where auditory phenomena are its focus of research. ontologies of sound will use ritual, performances, myths, hearing and not seeing expressions and auditory ethnography, to prevent from dangerous and unpleasant consequences, imminent dangers and awareness of vulnerable lo-fi soundscapes. this will contribute to a sound ontology based in trans-specific soundscapes where indigenous, shamans, medicos or doctors communicate through spirits in magic rituals in order to understand the sonic being. this process of identity formation in cultural expressions is a form of communication constructing knowledge, transmitting ontology through perception. through hearing and sound, being is revealed ontologically to form myths, narratives and modes of expression. auditory anthropology considers part of the sonic phenomena, the perception of rainforests, naturalism and atmospheric ambiences, practices following the concept of auratic (aural, aura) in walter benjamin and the ontology of sound in paracelsus, tao te ching, john cage or animist thinking.
Laura's bio: BA History of Art UB University of Barcelona, 2006. MA Curating New Media Art MECAD 2007. Curating, Communication and Criticism, Central Saint Martins, University of Arts London 2009. Has participated in study/work program at MA Media Art Histories, Vienna 2010. PhD forthcoming. Curation: Field Experimental Generative Animation London 2009. Arco Cinema Madrid 2010. Sound.art Event 2013. Has been at ISEA Conference Dortmund Germany 2010; MOTA Museum of Transitory Art New Media Art, Belgrade, Serbia 2011. Awards: MACBA as Researcher in Residence at Centre d’Estudis Barcelona. Actually runs EAM elektronische-art-and-music an independent agency of production, curation, management, publication, and record label.
Dianacopter is the Re-territorialization of a deceased princess through the magical realism of the cyborg; an examination of digital immortality through urban performance art.
Harrison - Banfield is a multidisciplinary artist currently living in Newport, South Wales. His practice involves manipulating audio-visual content appropriated from the internet, exploring a range of contemporary issues activated and filtered by social media. He has a particular interest in voyeurism, human behaviour and political economy.
Jack Rees is a new media artist and musician based in South Wales, producing work under the name Spamwangler. Working with generated images, found footage, with an interest in media saturation, re-mix culture, facial distortion and the modern office working environment, creating moving image and sound for web, also for interactive audio visual installation.
My practice aims at a form of slippery communication, a failure of symbolic meaning to move beyond abstraction in a gleeful refusal of coherence. Combining the humdrum domestic with the wildly arcane, I make objects and images which are still in the process of becoming whilst already collapsing. Forced into being, pulled together by clumsy fists, over ripe and splitting apart to reveal the open border between inside and outside. Surfaces are lovingly polished and painted, fingered and nibbled, at once seedy and grubbily childish. I want the viewers’ experience of my work to be an intimate encounter of ambiguous intent; objects are left like props for ill-advised actions, images like symbols from ill-defined rituals. Playing with the tension of the Symbolic dissolving itself, I draw on the figure of the sorceress, rippling with laughter, cruel and joyous, the mermaid tempting the sailor to death.