Fair warning to any and all: This one will not be for everybody. In his film Immersion: Porn, shot for Wallpaper*, artist Robbie Cooper interviewed “active porn aficionados” and then recorded their faces as they masturbated to pornography. The end result is a number of straight and gay men and women describing how they discovered porn, their feelings about porn, why they watch porn interspersed with shots of their “O” faces. Wallpaper is quick to point out that “the film does throw up any number of questions about voyeurism and exhibitionism and makes clear the incredible nakedness of the solo sex act.”
I’ll most certainly agree with the latter half of that statement. There’s something unsettling about watching these people, completely removed from contact with another person as their faces twist and contort, seemingly comprised of half a dozen different facial expressions ranging from pain to fear, that we associate with pleasure. As for questions, I’m not so sure. It always strikes me with projects like this that the artist’s intent is so overbearing that I wind up searching for the specific question that I was meant to ask; and more often than not I cannot find it.
It seems to me that porn in and of itself raises plenty of questions without the help of any outside agents. America, as a country founded by people who banned Christmas, has plenty of incongruous and negative emotions tied up in its cultural attitudes toward sexuality. Those feelings of shame and guilt crashing up against the wall of animal impulse and desire is what makes pornography such a contentious subject. In that regard I suppose that makes the interviews like Kristin’s the most interesting in that she seems to reconcile her views of porn with actually viewing porn. Even if that means not really reconciling the two at all.