Rise of the f*cking machines: Arse Elektronika bumps uglies with Web 2.0
Teledildonics to fill emptiness of modern geek-based life forms?
NSFW "To learn how to make computers more human, we have to f*ck them." - Stefan Lutschinger, Arse Elektronika
How could El Reg fail to cover a conference with presentations like Paging Dr. Moreau: "Humanimal" Porn in the Age of Xenotransplants and Genetic Chimera on the agenda - a conference set in a San Francisco dungeon porn palace, no less?
We couldn't. Although that particular presentation morphed into a more general presentation on pornutopia as a post-modern construct, we nonetheless decided to step into the breach to slake your insatiable thirst for all things tech, be they computers, dildos, or any combination thereof.
Arse Elektronika - not to be confused, of course, with either Ars Electronica, the European arts and technology festival, nor Ars Technica, the respected technology publication - is a new conference that devotes itself to the study of the interplay between pornography and technology.
The premise is indisputable. The erotic instinct, in all of its manifestations, has been a driving force in technology and the arts at least since the days of prehistoric European figurines.
Ancient Mesopotamian dildo ceramics, brothel frescoes from Herculaneum, the popularization of Japanese wood block prints - the breadth and scope of mankind's assorted sexual talismans, scattered as they are across the landscape of human history, belie any narrow explanation of their significance.
The flipside of such ubiquity is the commonality of the material. Porn on the internet today, naughty Roman frescoes back in 79 AD - really, what's the difference?
Partying with Moaning Lisa, the Electronic Orifice Orchestra and F*ckzilla
Strawberry Shortc*nt and Mr Farts get down.
The conference kicked off with an unexpectedly sober party, webcast via jerry-rigged high definition feed.
Regrettably booze-free due to the lack of an alcohol permit, the event began with a demo of Moaning Lisa, a reconfigured mannequin equipped with sensors in the eyes and the erogoneous zones with the idea that men could get a feel for the mystery of just what it is that women want.
Maybe she should have been programmed by a woman. She intermittently squeezed out a few grunts and groans, and her hand eventually fell off - more Venus de Milo than Greek Girl.
The Electronic Orifice Orchestra took the stage next, showing off a performance the web abstract promoted in a tone that could best be described as retro-sideshow chic.
Witness as extravagantly dressed performers use live biofeedback from muscular interior walls of their bodies to create a multi-media interactive show. See body orifices do amazing things that you never imagined possible!
Volunteerism can be rewarding.
Biofeedback, indeed. Wired up and ready to go, Strawberry Shortc*nt and Mr Farts made sweet music together, gyrating on stage.
Truthfully, it wasn't really music or particularly sweet, but it was a live example of biosensors being put to use in service of that postmodern obsession: mating man with machine. That theme - kind of like watching the plot of the novel V unfold in front of one's eyes - would prove to be a principal thrust of the conference.
Of course, what we were all waiting for was the climax of the evening - the f*cking machines. As in, machines that f*ck. None of this attach-biosensors-to-vagina-and-let-machine rip experimentation. This is cold hard robotic penetration.
Face to - er - face with F*ckzilla.
F*ckzilla resembles nothing so much as the body of a praying mantis attached to tank-style treads. His left arm is a converted chainsaw, now equipped with rubbery pink tongues rather than a chain. The right arm ends in a massive red dildo - one so big that the woman who volunteered from the audience requested something smaller.
One of those involved with the production returned from the basement with a Sawzall - aka, F*ckzall - modified to accommodate a smaller blue dildo, which was then used for the penetration, while the spinning tongues provided clitoral support.
Due to federal pornography regulations, which would have required everyone in the room to provide identification on record, the actual frenzied climactic act of robo-coitus was performed in silhouette, behind a white sheet.
A brief history of the dildo
Old school vibrator, photo courtesy of Fox Magrathea of Metaforge.com
The good people of Good Vibrations were on hand to give us all a welcome history of the sex toy. At least as far back as ancient Mesopotamia, and culminating today with the latest in vibrator tech, the Talking Head mp3 vibrator - which offers Juan the Latin Lover and Bergen the German Mountain Man as audible assistants for the ladies - the humble phallus seems to have maintained position as the prototype of choice, although the Good Vibrations museum has a collection of vibes from makers such as Wahl and Hamilton Beach that bear uncanny resemblances to home appliances.
American households apparently had more vibrators than toasters in 1917, as the steam-powered vibes prescribed by doctors for female hysteria in the 19th century gave way to the 110 volt beauties of the electrical age.
Sex and democracy - the early adopters
John Coopersmith gave us a history of how porn has pushed the technological envelope. From the first Polaroid - the Swinger - to the video recorder and the development of the internet, human lust has led the way. Now that anybody can be a porn producer or star the trick is to find the audience. The high barrier to entry of the pre-internet porn industry had the benefit of facilitating distribution to a wider audience, which has left the internet as a fetish-driven niche market.
The idea that the internet has unleashed human depravity, as social conservatives claim, seems specious: for example, the humanimal fetish, in which human and animal body parts are combined, is too reminiscent of Greek or Egyptian mythology to be a uniquely disturbing, contemporary conceit. There's more farce there than fetish.
Teledildonics is the field of remote controlled sex machines. It is also our new favorite word here at Vulture Central.
Kyle Machulis, who created the first sex toy interface for Second Life and runs slashdong.com, a site devoted to open source development in the field of teledildonics, gave a presentation covering the various ways in which modes of communication such as the internet or cell phones can be utilized as sex toys. Machulis, a robotics engineer, brought the world twitterdildonics at the SXSW festival this year by converting the ASCII characters of twitter microblogs into vibrator commands.
The basic idea of remotely controlling the sexual pleasure of another is simple enough, inasmuch as the organs involved on either end are what we've always had, but the field has also given rise to a novel form of fetishism, in which software programs replace the dom in a BDSM context.
This type of code-based auto-domination - erotocodism, we'll call it - in which the participant submits to the commands of the software without the riding crops, gimp masks and assorted other paraphernalia associated with BDSM, is of course only a precursor to the day when F*ckzilla himself gives the orders.
When he does, rest assured El Reg will be there to cover it.®
Burke Hansen, attorney at large, heads a San Francisco law office