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SENSORSHIP



A performance that invites participants to touch a nude male body in order to view a projected image, Sensorship confronts an amalgam of societal fears associated with censorship throughout history of nudity and its association with queerness/otherness. It confronts the social fear of the human body as a “monstrosity.” In other words, the body is the interface in which to view fragmented queer images that are subtextually deemed as monstrous, through history.

By exploring the dichotomy between the physical and electronic, the performance is meant to intimidate the participant by simply inviting them to touch the model. Thus, deciding not to interact with the body is participating in the narrative. The participants will confront the heteronormative, male-dominated gaze of media by having the restricted in the open; out of a “monstrous vessel.” 

The performance was documented in a vacant warehouse next to the artist’s day job. The meaning of the setting is autobiographical. As a queer person, Troy McIver explores self-censorship in a predominantly cis-gender straight work environment. This is a common dynamic amongst queer folk in the blue-collar workforce. What is acceptable for cis-straight men in day-to-day discourse, in not the same for their queer counterparts; and is a result of the representations (or lack) of queerness and otherness through the centuries.









SENSORSHIP, 2020
Documentation: HD video
Performance: live-model (Badin, Ben), Arduino,
sensors/buttons, low-resolution video projection, sound.  



This video is a screen-recording of the program, which was created in Processing for Sensorship. The performance invited participants to touch sensors placed on a nude male body, in order to view projected footage from a video arrey, at random. This fragmented media was curated to confront an amalgam of societal fears associated with censorship throughout history of nudity and its association with queerness/otherness.

NOTE: The footage is not edited. It is merely a documentation of the program as one interacts with the sensors.




BACKGROUND


Originally conceived as a sculpture piece, a 3d scan was taken of a nude male model (Badin, Ben). With the help of fabricator and fellow artist, Levon Kostandyan, we CNC routed the majority of the layers need to make the sculpture... and then COVID-19 happened, and we lost access to the equipment needed to finish the work.  This ultimately leads to a transformation that was performance-based by nature.

By utilizing the body itself and not just a representation of the nude form, the piece grows in confrontation; making a statement bold. By exploring the dynamic between the physical and electronic, the performance intimidates the participant by simply inviting them to touch it. Thus, deciding not to interact with the body is participating in the narrative.

Like the setting of the documentation, the overall thesis is autobiographical by nature. I am not the first person to comment on the history of queerness in media and the connotations of it related to the male body. However, this history is a part of my own history, and the media fragments curated in the video arrey, are an intimate look into the processing of it, from a queer perspective. This double standard that I practice, by self-censoring my voice is apart of a larger narrative of queerness and representation of male sexuality, associated with gender expectations and nudity. 



3D Scan layers in RHINO


Two Layers of foam based sculpture 


3D print mini mock-up from 3D scan


Ardino & sensors





CONTENT 


Since my original concept was to create an interactive nude sculpture, my research period started with me reading anything I could find on the history of the nude sculpture. The timeline between Greco-Roman sculpture and the rise of Christianity, specifically. The 1563 decree of banning “all lasciviousness” in religious imagery, fascinated me. Nude sculptures across Italy, though predominantly in Rome, soon donned carefully placed fig leaves (that is if the genitals weren’t emasculated with a hammer and chisel). Thus, the study of the nude became associated with the history of censorship in media, overall.

From a queer perspective, I am sensitive to the fact that representation (and lack thereof) promotes the “informed opinions” of those deemed as “others.” The moralism of the dark ages took a toll on representations of queerness throughout the centuries. Overtly positive representations of homosexuality didn’t seem to hit a sustained note in the mainstream, until the 20th century. Though the reappearance of queerness and homoeroticism in art and media (from Herbert List to Kenneth Anger)  didn’t happen without violence. The (often religious) repression of perspective seemed to create the narrative of the queer as monstrous. In many ways, the opposition to otherness is a descendant of the dark ages, of which we seem to have trouble getting over.  

The videos curated in the program take influence from video artist Arthur Jafa, in that fragmented pieces of media associated together could be emblematic of a history or experience not shown. I try to associate these fragmentations of art with the (often violent) history associated with it. One example is my use of clips from William Friedkin’s Cruising (1980). This essentially mainstream thriller, in which a killer stalks members of the gay fetish scene, graphically  depicted s&m gay sex on location, in real leather bars of pre-aids New York City. Needless to say, the film didn’t do well at the box office and caused outrage amongst conservative America, and many members of the gay community; feeling that its exploration of gay sex, blurred the lines between violence and sexuality. Painting a grim picture to an already unsympathetic and misguided America. Shortly after the release of the film, a gunman shot up on of the bars, depicted in the film. Friedkin refused to comment.  


Tullio Lombardo, Adam, ca. 1490–95. Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


Cruising Poster, 1980.






Credits 





Clips and Videos Used in Processing Video Arrey:




-Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

-Alien (1979)

-Cruising (1980)

-News report on Cruising Film (1980)

-Fireworks (1947)

-Vintage public domain Gay porn (c.1963)

-Scorpio Rising (1963)

-Woman in Love (1969)

-The Devils (1971)

-Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

-WCPO Report -Cincinnati Mapplethorpe Art Exhibit Shut down (1990)

-Goodfellas (1990)

-Velvet Goldmine (1998)

-Gods and Monsters (1998)

-History Channel's History of Sex (1999)

-Fig Leaf: The Biggest Cover-up in History (2011)

-Jerusalem Pride Stabbing Attack by Orthodox Raticalist (2015)

-News Report on Pulse NightClub Shooting (2016)

-Wagner Schwartz Performance of ‘La Bete’

-Sensorship mood board video (2020)





Personel 






Nude Model: Ben Badin

Participants:

-Levon Kostandyan

-Mari Ramos

-Troy McIver

-Anonymous



Music in “Sensorship (Two-Channel Video) Documentation”:

Sam Long (aka. Lapis Elle)