#danceporn

Page 1

#danceporn


An off-line Tutorial: Making Art Has Never Been That Easy Imagine: you go to the studio, you are alone. You enter an almost empty space, sometimes of a size of your living room, sometimes of a size of a small church. There are always curtains in there, as if it was a peep show salon. You prefer it dark, this way it feels much more comfortable, the space gets more concentrated, dense: air dust, artificial electric light particles, warmth radiating from the heaters that you switch on as you enter and turn off as you leave, having the space warm enough only by the end of your stay. You turn on the sound system. You unpack your backpack: clothes, computer, camera. You change your clothes, as you know you will sweat. Or at least aim at sweating. You set up the camera, a single-eyed witness, merciless in its proclaimed objectivity. There is an objective directed towards the middle of your forhead and the centre of your heart. Plus the mirrors. Curtains, sound system, rubber floor and mirrors the dispositif of a dance studio. By now, the silence starts to get too loud. You switch on your computer. You browse through your iTunes library until you find something that feels right, that resonates. This is where you start from. Long ago you stopped believing in warming up and you are quite orthodox about it. So you press the REC button on your cam, you replay the music track and start to dance as soon as you enter the frame made up by the angle of the camera. You could think of composition, but it is not a must. Energy distribution and technical virtuosity are far more important. You delegate the urgency of the act to every instant, to intention and intensity. You do not worry about choreography or intended meaning making. You follow the rule: the secret to effect lies in affect. You try to feel it right. Sensing, feeling, action. You trust in the continuance of movement and time and rely on what's about to come. You rely on the minimum you need to get yourself moving. You remember: dance is connected to the rhythm, sensation, desire and

captivation. When the music finishes, you strike your last pose, you hold it still, count to 5, release and go out to press REC button again. Congratulations! You've just produced a piece of your very own artistic #danceporn!1 Disclaimer: This tutorial is based on my experiential knowledge and gives away tips only valid for production of a certain genre of #danceporn. It is not a universal #danceporn guide. Welcome to (#dance-)porn or in a place of an introduction To justify this semiotic abuse, here is an outline of formal similarities between pornography and self-recorded, unmanipulated dance videos. 1. Pornography and #danceporn involve elements of bodily practice and the translation of these into a digital recording.

1

To be really anal, I could actually call it #contemporaryart#studio#semipro#danceporn. Other possible hastags would for example be #youporn, #artistasmasturbator, #soloact, #sweatitout, #softandsensual, #bigquads, #wannabeballerina, #dancingtorihanna, #DYIart, #anti-art. For anti-art see Jerzy Ludwiński, Sztuka w epoce postartystycznej i inne teksty. (ASP Poznań, BWA Wrocław, 2011). Some texts also available in English in Jerzy Ludwiński, Notes for Future of Art, ed. Magdalena Ziółkowska (Van Abbe Museum, 2008). Ludwiński was a Polish art scholar who proposed an interesting theory of contemporary art as "anti-art", art in the era of democratization of media and the end of the avant-garde.


2. What counts is imaging, uncovering, something of revealing nature and not narration, as the scenario is known anyways. 3. The imaging is usually crude, pungent and terse, not leaving much space for metaphoricall meaning-making or visual flamboyancy, even though a tendency to overdraw is for sure present. The function of a pornographic picture is not to comment upon itself, but to display its subject. In this way, one can think of pornographic footage as transparent in its form and of studio/home dance footage as fetishizing the naked movement. 4. Not always, but most often, porn aesthetics are involved with what one might call "hobbistic aura". They do not try to veil the truth about their production conditions, but on the contrary - they take pride in them. They upgrade "the amateurish" into a full new category, a certain genre of its own. That is: something you could probably make yourself.

source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27EnCxZvSl4

5. Commonly, in pornography (most notably in so-called "reality pornography") and almost always in #danceporn, the (supposed)2 author of the video is identical to its actor/performer/body depicted. From there, you might start thinking about narcissism and subjectivation mechanisms. 6. In pornography taken as a record of a performance, it might be extremely difficult to differentiate between the real experience and its representation. In other words: you might never be sure when the sensing stops and the faking in front of the camera starts. And pornography itself does not seem to care much about this distinction. 2

One can of course never be sure what exactly were the mechanisms behind the production of that kind of footage, but it is interesting to notice the popularity of POV (point-of-view) or amateur look-alike porn.

source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNCxks4mEU0


7. In porn, the stuff of artifice and real bodies are interwoven in the process of representation of a sensation. 8. Pornography is known for operating within fluid, but well-defined categories: soft/hard core, body features (e.g. big beautiful woman, cameltoe, leg and feet), skin colour and ethnicity (e.g. ebony, bi-racial, Middle Eastern), subculture (e.g. alt porn: goth, emo, skater), age (e.g. mature, teen, Lolicon), Bondage/BDSM (e.g. Femdom, spanking, Gore), bodily functions (e.g. facial, squirt, cum-shot), role playing (e.g. doctor - nurse, burglar - victim, teacher student), etc. 3 #danceporn can recognize similar compulsion to (self-)classification. Dionysian beauty Take a porn scene or a dance video: what do you see? Lots of skin everywhere, hair, bones covered in flesh. At the centre, there is a body which strives for transcendance and usually floats somewhere in the liminal sphere, a body that wants to jump over itself by indulging in itself. Some inwards motion that results in an eruption, a sort of merging with the surrounding. There is a danger hidden in the act, something you might think of as potential destructive or nihilistic tendency. Dance and sexual act, as bodily practices, meet up in a metaphor of „ekstatikos” (from greek: εκστατικός, standing outside of its place) or „exprimere” (from latin: to ex·press, to press from the inside out). It is always in a „spilling out” direction that one thinks of porn or #danceporn. It is about liquidifying oneself, shooting out, stirring. Pouring of flesh onto the film surface, sheding 3

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_pornographic_subgenres (last accessed 2/03/2017). All of the mentioned categories have been quoted from the indicated article.

of sperm, tears, blood or sweat over the cinematic effect. It is overflowing with engagement and infused with energy. „Ecstatic” means rapturous - this, which turns away from the daily and social. This, which drowns in its own self-commitment, dies through submersion in self-indulgence and suffocates through inhalation of narcissistic joy. It is solipsism par excellence and yet, we do feel compelled to watch it. Here quite a neat paradox of (#dance-)porn: it is off shore from the mainstream production system, it is off the sphere of high visibility, regular advertisement and social acceptance, and yet it is popular. Just type in: "me dancing" into YouTube search engine. It is scam and spam: it is accessible, but unspoken of. It is erotics of the Internet. You can charge the camera and point it, shoot a video and put it on display. Now, doesn't that sound phallic? All the pleasures one might take in dealing with these videos are adjacent to elements of erotic feeling: longing for transgression, admiration of the surface, a desire for celebration of the flesh, that it is what it shows, that it is what it is without decency or remorse. That is a business of paying tribute to the erotics of voyueurism. The pervert's guide to superficiality (or: what if things are exactly what they seem) #danceporn might be a fragment of the world that says: this has happened, this is how it was. Both in porn and studio documentation what counts is the event and not so much its framing. Not interpretation, but presentation. Not editing, but imaging, where the medium for once becomes invisible, not involved in meta-display of its own values. The videos might be fragmented or have undergone a selection process, but nonetheless they are likely to be considered somewhat transparent. the pornographic pleasure from watching dance recordings is exactly that: to watch the naked dance. What you


see in those clips, is always the same thing, same action all over again. The scenery might change, but body mechanics remain intact. It is a genre parallel to diary forms - a souvenir of one's professional/hobbyist trajectory, an inventory of musical and dress code choices, an archive of bodily transformations and shifting contexts. My hard drive folder entitled "STUDIO" with sub-folders organized according to the system of YYYY-MM-DD, starting with 2011-10-26, does not contain cinematic ouevre, but dance trophies. They are fragmentary pieces of shattered reality and in this way they claim the right to authenticity. Simplicity is their virtue. To say more clearly: try to imagine porn with special effects. Ejaculation augumented in CGI, breasts multiplied on the screen by means of copy-paste, fire burning from somebody's pubic hair... Well, it is called MS Paint porn4 and it actually might be art already. It seems that for porn - in order to stay porn - all the body enhancements must happen in reality, off-screen, pre-shooting. Porn with special effects would turn into fiction and loose its power of direct communication by the way of body(image)to-body empathy. Which might as well mean just that: #danceporn is a documentary form. Porn and #danceporn lie on the outskirts of art. They are its bastard forms, unloved children with attention span disorders. They are too all-over-the-place, they are somewhat too chaotic and irresponsible to fit into the family. They are party-spoilers and naughty brats, always ready to remind us how humans take pleasure in free-flowing stream of debilitating creativity. 4

Alternatively called SFW (safe-for-work) porn. The screenshots on the opposite side come from a 2009 Diesel commercial directed by Keith Schofield.

source: https://vimeo.com/14425203


Only YOU: -tube, -porn and -can-dance Both in terms of material available to watch free of charge by anyone capable of connecting to the Internet and in terms of production means, porn footage and #danceporn are chart-busters of accessibility. In the 1994 version of "Only you" by Savage, Roberto Zanetti sings: "Then you make me see/ Love is free".5 Well, that was pre-YouTube. Now posting videos is free, too. And in a reality of democratization of media, a pro resolution camera is really not a must. Maybe it is also worth noticing that the very paradigms of high resolution supremacy embedded in the transformational era of early capitalism are starting to shift: low quality is the new cool6 and it seems like high resolution can be temporarily replaced by high intensity of pixelated confessionism. And that is also were selfie dancing meets porn industry - one senses something of a voyeristic nature: the stripping off of the intimate and personal.7 It says: "Hey, that's what people do when they lock themselves up in their homes. And you know how to do it, too!". It is pointing to the society of supposedly highly-individuated selfs, who - consciously or not - are producers (or shall I say re-producers?) of the same material all over 5

See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pj9ZWjBlFew (last accessed 2/03/2017). 6 See https://vimeo.com/187348422, (last accessed 2/03/2017). A slightly glitched, home-made look-alike video for a fashion campaign of a recently much hyped brand MISBHV. 7 When I first typed "me dancing" into Google, I got a long list of videos of exclusively very young girls in somewhat sexualized outfits, as if they would be the only social group interested in the phenomena. But knowing how search engine algorithms function, I wonder if this tells us anything at all about the viral dance-makers' community. In the end, the thing it might be indicative of, is actually the amount of audience interested in watching half-naked children shaking their hips in front of the camera.

again. Like tiny processors in a well oiled subjectivation machine, people are flipping and throwing their limbs around and produce themselves as 2D avatars. Together alone, everybody is shaking their hips to the unifying tunes provided by pop culture and post-MTV social media (SoundCloud, Youtube, Spotify, last.fm)8. Fatboy Slim is Fucking in Heaven and right here, down on Earth, we are selfiedancing to the beat. Germans have a good word for that: Herzschlag a whip of the heart. With the speed of 162bpm or likewise, we indulge in both - sex and dancing, wholeheartedly, in our free time. Work, Bitch In fact, it would not be an exaggeration to say that for some, watching/producing porn and watching/producing dance clips have become a hobby. That is something we do to kill time: an occupation, activity one might engage in, a channel for discharging the surplus of energy. The tricky part starts when, by means of capitalist (self-)commodification, we manage to transform our hobby into our work. And that is either when we realize we do have an audience or start to have professional ambitions. It is precisely at that point, that what in the beginning seemed to be a promise of a potential source of fullfillment starts to torment us. Hundreds of hours of footage that no one is capable of browsing through, endless shots of one own's face or body that through the process of accumulation started to loose any meaning, a well impregnated reminder of worse days and grand failures stored in the depths of your external hard drive, an excessive 8

See Hito Steyerl, Cut! Reproduction and Recombination in The Wretched of the Screen, ed. e-flux journal (Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2012) and Siegfried Kracauer, The Mass Ornament in The Mass Ornament. Weimar Essays, ed. Thomas Y. Levin (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995).


source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gB3VozVwbSo

source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fD0_EYTDUqE

source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aseUbFhLXYk

source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLSl5vZscDA


archaive of bodily transformations and a catalogue of possible stylistic choices composed out of tiny tiny crystals, some junk of your life encoded in zeros and ones. This time it is also a well-oiled self-policing machine. Terrifying stuff. And you start to wonder how to make your living out of it. On the other hand, taking a reverse perspective and perhaps the one more strongly rooted in pragmatic rather than moralizing aspect, I could argue that the action of video recording carries within itself a potential of liberation from the obligation to sensing. It eases the fear of not living up to the standards of having fun and ingesting the corporeal elation. It promises the very satisfying transformation from hobby/holiday/occupation to work. It might sound as a most irrelevant counterpoint to the Marxist theory of liberation from work, but on a pragmatic level - let's be honest - it is sometimes much more fun to seek for a good image rather than dwelve into the depths of one's soul in the search of archaic oceanic oneness and instead finding much disorientation or realizing that you are totally unable to sense the right kidney or the deep tissues of the pelvic floor. That is to say: it might be soothing sometimes to just glide on the surface of experience. To let the picture overtake your ability to judge the honesty and intensity of your own response. And this is where I see #danceporn at the moment: clashing back and forth in between these two mischevious perspectives, oscillating wildly in the storm of Internet's unpredictability, capriciousness of our auto-poetic ambitions, ever-transmogrifying cultural, artistic and economic scene¡ry of taboos and fashions, accelarated process of directing the attention towards performativity of the self, democratization of media, split screens, LCD screens, crushed iPhone screens, sickening amounts of undead .mp4 files on my hard

drive, "LUV just me dancing ...lol <3"-entitled digital data, a tripod weighing 1,7kg and porn ads poping up, as I try to google "weight of a typical tripod" having searched for "types of porn" beforehand. It sounds pretty bad, but what if it's not? What if, amongst all of this mess, "the genius is like a blind sea-crab, continually groping in all directions and occasionally catching something; yet it does not grope in order to catch but because its limbs need the exercise" (F. Nietzsche).9 #danceporn's biggest asset might be that it is still impossible to pin it down, that it opens up a space where value and judgement get confused. What if aiming into no specific direction and with no intention to hit, what if blind crab-like grabbing of the stuff around are the best method of moving through the continuous-present? What if in order to navigate the disorder, one needs to eventually just get lost? Where am I going, what am I doing... I am going, I am doing. In defense of the poor footage Cryptically yours, anonymously embodied, with no understanding of the purpose or hollistic aim, with attention directed towards each moment but not duration, inclined towards dance and slipping away from choreography, in an ahistoric time of shadowed, slightly embarassing mediated eroticism, in the world only describable 9

For the source of the quote see https://books.google.hu/books?id=gwZwh8FGzv8C&pg=PA89&lpg=PA89 &dq=nietzsche+genius+crab&source=bl&ots=MVuLSiLrM0&sig=h3oHc A6mhj1VXqFdjga7L_qeFWU&hl=pl&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjlkfOl0rjSAh XMCCwKHawNDawQ6AEIMTAD#v=onepage&q=nietzsche%20genius% 20crab&f=false (last accessed 2/03/2017). Original text not available in English.


through the system of ands (this and that, and that)10, we liquidcrystallize our exhibishionist inclinations into discrete packages of binary code that will seek their independance from the parents by means of living a second life on-line. Wow. It is self-involved, it can be dirty, yeees! Oh, yes, it can be superficial. It is some fetishistic, embarrassing stuff, some trivia for the geeks. But in the age of free flowing, diarrhea-like Web 2.0 and postmodern philosophical constipation, the strenght of these videos is that they are pure diamonds of commitment, they are the core expression of "yes" policy in the world of "maybe". When I dance, I can't troll. Both #danceporn and porn go with it and they go all the way. Softly, in an undercurrent of mainstream visibility, but with conviction. What is at stake, might be crossing the lines of taboo, of decency: we know what that means for pornography, but what could that possibly mean for dance? Well, for dance in an art context nowadays, it might for instance be to dance.

10

For more information on the theory of liquid modernity see Zygmunt Baumann, Liquid Modernity (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2000) or Zygmunt Baumann, Liquid Times: Living in an Age of Uncertainty (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2006).