reivindicate porn, save art.

Thanks for considering being a sponsor for my Ph.D., “Graphic approaches: an experimental theoretical analysis of pornographic creation”. On this page you will find the main academic arguments and propositions of my Ph.D., and also some of the reasons why I believe this research is fundamental for your organization – and for the world. 

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What is this Ph.D about?

 

This Ph.D. will explore the distinctions between pornography and erotica (which at this stage I theorize to be a mere class distinction), the purpose of pornography from the eye of the pornographer, the impact of online censorship (in particular, FOSTA/SESTA) both for sex workers and artists and finally, how pornography might aid in the formation of fringe and queer identities.

The word pornography comes directly from the greek porne (or prostitute) and graphein (writing), and it’s usually translated as writing about prostitutes, or, more widely, depicting sexual acts. But with definitions of sex, sexual relationships, gender, and other queer aspects of life being widened, and with a lack of a unified legal working definition for pornography (in the era of “porn giants” such as MindGeek and Pornhub, or Onlyfans and DIY pornography), writing about pornography and the aesthetics of porn and art has never been more relevant.

When something is framed as art (or when enough time has passed by for it to be deemed art), its pornographic qualities are soon ignored – The Origin of the World by Coubert comes to mind as one of the more famous examples (de Robertis, 2014). There’s enough pornographic graffiti in Pompeii (Levin-Richardson, 2019) to justify that once enough time has passed, almost anything can be considered art (even if female tourists were once forbidden to explore its excavated brothels, where pornography abounded in the walls (Tang, 1999). There is a long tradition of female nudity in the world of high classical art, and the female form has long been objectified for the sake of art. So why is it that some pornographic productions are not considered elevated enough to be art while some others are hailed as exactly that? And is this related to how censorship is applied to different kinds of content in the online world today?

This question is answered usually by philosophers and lawyers ex post facto, and doesn’t take into account how the artist may feel about their own work, their process or their goals for their work: how can scholars confidently proclaim that a piece of art has no other purpose but the arousal of the audience when the artist’s voice is never taken into account? How can one look at femdom pornography and not feel that it challenges the status quo at the same time that it arouses its intended audience? It may well be that pornography, in challenging the definition of art as an apolitical, class-free expression of humanity, gets its own status as an art form challenged in return.

Art and pornography have been intertwined for as long as humans have created either of them, but censorship laws didn’t come into play (or were not recorded) until the estate and its governing bodies had some economical power to protect (Berkowitz, 2013, pp. 136–190). Often, censorship laws have been used to quiet artistic movements, so much so that organizations such as the Index on Censorship have been launched recently (Something Curated, 2019). At times, the censorship didn’t have to do with the contents of the work, but the way in which it was being distributed and who was accessing said contents (Eaton, 2018). Although oftentimes art has escaped censorship (whilst pornography has not), since the passing of FOSTA/SESTA the informal censorship applied on the internet has seen both pornographic as well as artistic productions impacted under the harsh rule of the algorithm (Blunt & Wolf, 2020). Is there a chance for pornography to escape censorship by donning the guise of art, or is any such attempt doomed from the start?

Why is this research important?

 

A) There’s very little literature that looks at the production of pornography from the point of view of the artist/creator itself and that takes into account the intentions of the artist: if we can’t ignore this when we analyze other forms of cultural production, we need to start paying attention to it when we analyze this one.

B) Censoring pornography leaves whole communities out in the open – starting with sex workers, who are often faced with the threat of deportation and having their money confiscated by the governing bodies of different nations, and continuing with LGTBQI+ people who have faced discrimination hidden in censorship laws for the past two centuries. We need to take an honest look at how censorship operates around art depending on the producer of said art. There is a need to hold censorship systems accountable, and there is not enough literature that can be applied to this matter.

C) The production of pornography needs to be understood and analyzed using the tools we use to interpret and analyze other artistic productions – given that it is produced with the same (artistic) techniques and within the same (artistic) media, such as photography, video, and film.

D) We need to demystify pornographic creation and take a closer, deeper look at how the creators interact with their audience and environment the same way we have demystified artistic creation. In the society of information, in which we are all content creators to a degree, we need to create the literature that explores this subject matter.

E) Analysing the class dynamics that run under the separation between erotica, art, and pornography and how they affect the productions of different artworks is vital and needs to be added to the current literature. This need is not born out of Marxist aspirations on aesthetics, but out of the need to understand how we classify cultural productions according to our moral values.

Your options to pledge

 

In order to be able to fully dedicate myself to this Ph.D., I need to pay both the university fees and my own bills. I’ve been studying and working at the same time for the last eight years, and I believe that this kind of research would be much more fruitful if I didn’t have to work a 40h+ job on top of conducting doctoral research. My living expenses amount to around 22000 GBP per year, whilst the course fees amount to 4500 GBP per year. When choosing your pledge, I will let you know where your money is going. At the end of each year that you decide to pledge to my Ph.D., you will receive a detailed account of how your money was spent.

Tier 1: 1000 – 3000 GBP

Perks: One short paper (3000 words max) written for a publication of your choice – either your organization’s magazine or newsletter or your blog, etc.; acknowledgments

Tier 2: 5000 GBP

Perks: Two short papers (3000 words max) or four articles (max 1500 words). Graphic design and illustration for either one publication or one event that your organization is involved in; acknowledgments

Tier 3: 15000 GBP

Trimestral articles (max 1500 words) for your organization’s blog or website during the three years of my DPhil; one original artwork commissioned by your company (max dimensions 1m per side), shipping included; acknowledgments

If you want to pledge less than 1000 GBP, I would rather you commission some artwork from me – this will help me further my career as an artist and all funds will go towards my Ph.D.

How to pledge

 

If you’ve made the decision to become one of my sponsors, first and foremost, thank you! I couldn’t do this Ph.D. if you hadn’t made that choice. Depending on the amount of your pledge and who has pledged before you, I might ask you to pay some of that money directly to the University of Kent. Otherwise, I will ask that you send me the total sum in monthly installments unless you have another preferred way to deal with grants and sponsorships. Please, click on the button below or reply to my original email so that I can send you the instructions for the next steps.

I want to save art from censorship

 

 

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