Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Proposal bw

Question: The phenomenon I want to investigate is amateur porn pictures on the internet, specifically the website lameatnames.com. As a quick background, the website is a random collection of amateur pictures found on the internet by the two founders, who met on the internet before ever meeting in real life. The descryption of the website reads as follows: "most of the time [the pictures] are not really sexy. they're fun cause they show people's life and what erotic means to them."On another page, the two founders describe what they are doing as filtering or archiving, specifically looking for the "beautiful." The site does not seek to make any money and it does not accept submissions. They link to only one other collection and one other blog, which is also their own. lastly, the image library is organized into categories that are alphabetically listed. Some categories are straightforward for example Christmas Elves) others are more poetic (Little Death). They also have a literature category.
After this lengthy explanation, let me explain why this has attracted my attention.

For me this brings up a host of questions: Why does this site exist and who is it for? What does it archive and for whom? Is this something new or is a productive rephrasing of something already there? Are there issues of ownership and intention that have to be discussed? What is at stake in taking private photos of people in sexual photos found on public internet sites and then organizing and showing them in a new way and in a new environment?

Literature used:
Tsing: Gaps as "conceptual spaces and real spaces into which powerful demarcations do not travel well" (p. 175). This is obviously interesting when looking at the wild 'frontier" of the internet, which is limitless and oftentimes escapes straightforward labeling.
Foucault: Secrets and Power. "Relations of power are not in a position of exteriority with respect to other types of relationships (…), but are immanent in the latter; they are immediate effects of the divisions, inequalities, and disequilibriums which occur in the latter, and conversely they are the internal conditions of these differentiations; relations of power are not in the superstructural positions, with merely a role of prohibition or accompaniment; they have a directly productive role; where they come into play."
Lee and LePuma about performance. This is interesting, since these pictures in a new order are not reproducing something, but by adding a new context actually creating something it.
Keenan on the visual and affect.
Granovetter on weak ties since the site is not connected with the rest of the internet. Can't really be found through other sites; however has a twitter feed and facebook site)
Potentially something about viruses, since the vocabulary about sexuality is filled with words that are also used to describe sickness.
More to hopefully emerge from the discussion.

Thesis: The site lameatnames.com manages to exhibit an unmapped space between public and private sexuality in reality and on the internet, and in the associated discourse. While its pictures are inherently private and through their aesthetic linked with the everyday life of "normal" people, they have all been found using the internet and are being redisplayed through it and thus available to all. The way that power works in real life, i.e. repressing non-heteronormative expressions of sexuality, does not transfer to the internet, where these pictures are now being reassembled and grouped together. In this grouping, they also create new meanings, since here sexuality and taboos are renegotiated and in this negotiation also created.

1 comment:

bw said...

Also brings up issues of voyeurism, the viewer and the gaze...