Florian Cramer on Sat, 30 Apr 2005 14:19:37 +0200 (CEST)

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Pornographic Coding

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 rule.
     (Adapted from a Neoist slogan)

     Art is sanctioned pornography.
     (Neoist slogan)

1  We demand a shamanic pornography

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 
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 popular computing

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 
episodes." 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 frenzy.

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 of boredom

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 with me. 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 dreams

     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

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 depicts them? 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 viewing." 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 Cypress... */
     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 plenty... */
     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 fucking mess...
     arch/mips/kernel/irixelf.c:#if 0 /* XXX No fucking way dude...*/

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 learnt that

     "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 physical arousal. 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 Source Pornography

Figure 1: From suicidegirls.com
Figure 2: Sample image from nofauxxx.com
Figure 3: Dahlia Schweitzer, Lovergirl photo series

     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 http://
www.suicidegirls.com, http://www.cleansheets.com, http://
wwww.thatstrangegirl.com and http://www.fatalbeauty.com 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
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}



{1} by the ASCII Art Ensemble around Vuc Cosic and Luka Frelih.
{2} Richard Kern interviewed by Daniel Robert Epstein, http://
{3} http:///www.nerve.com is a highbrow forerunner of these sites,
creating "sophisticated" porn for an intellectual audience.
{4} The sites http://www.ishotmyself.com and http://www.beautifulagony.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 orgasm.
{5} Richard 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."
{6} A rare example of such dirty porn code are the writings of Australian
codework artist mez.

This text can be freely used under the terms of the GNU General Public


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