What is pornography? A mere sociological phenomenon or an aesthetic category? And above all, how has pornographic representation changed over the last few years with the evolution of the media? With a broad approach encompassing various spheres of contemporary reality, from photography, the visual arts and web performances to television and cinema, Bruno Di Marino examines the many facets of the presentation of obscenity. From Courbet’s Origine du Monde, Duchamp’s objects, Man Ray’s Four Seasons and performances of an erotic and political nature, this in-depth historical and art-critical investigation takes us behind the scenes of porn with the photographs of Sultan and Greenfield-Sanders, and on to the big screen with the successful alliance of experimental and X-rated cinema in the “hot” films of masters like Gioli and Warhol, pornographic found footage and the new frontiers of video art and video clips. The key turning point comes with transition from the private sphere to the Internet with the infinite universe of YouPorn and the proliferation of increasingly daring forms of interchange between the real and immaterial worlds.
The last two decades have seen a spectacularization and normalization of pornography that has definitively violated its taboo also – and indeed above all – for the female public, giving rise to a uncontrolled increase in amateur production and hence a crisis for professional hardcore. Having become a fragmentary and boundless hypermedia archive of forms, codes, languages and images, pornography is now a world midway between fiction and reality that even threatens to transform essential aspects of everyday life into a sort of mise-en-scène.