HOME ABOUT INTERVIEWS REVIEWS FEATURES BLOG ARCHIVAL BIBLIOGRAPHY CONTACT TWITTER BOOKSHOP

+ THORACIC DROP: < Deposit > news appropriate to this site.

+ AUTOGEDDON: Subscribe to Ballardian & receive automatic email updates

'The fusion of science and pornography' (WARNING! Exceptionally unsafe for work)

Author: • Jul 1st, 2008 •

Category: Ballardosphere, biology, boredom, inner space, medical procedure, photography, psychiatry, sexual politics, visual art

Ballardian: Wim Delvoye

ABOVE: From the ‘Kiss’ series, by Wim Delvoye.

[In The Atrocity Exhibition] Traven explores what most people would regard as pretty frightening pornographic imagery; he explores with the kind of eye of a forensic pathologist. He treats sexual desire as if it was something stretched out on an autopsy table; he takes a woman’s body and dismantles it – not literally, but almost literally – and constructs a kit which is literally that. I mean inside of a suitcase, as you show in the film, there is a set of the key elements that we respond to when we become sexually aroused – a pair of latex breasts, nipples, detachable pubic hair…

J.G. Ballard, interviewed by Jonathan Weiss in 2006, commentary track on The Atrocity Exhibition (2000; film directed by Weiss).

Peter C. emailed to tell me of his discovery of the work of Belgian artist Wim Delvoye, whose ‘Kiss’ series of x-ray photographs involved Delvoye asking friends to ‘paint themselves with small amounts of barium (that liquid used in x-rays for digestion and such like) and then be “photographed” having sex in medical clinics. The resulting images are… striking’ (according to Joseph Brett).

Peter says:

I feel a bit weird submitting this, and you might not find it relevant at all, but I just discovered this “X-Ray Porn” and it, for whatever reason, reminded me of Ballard! It’s rather striking how unpleasant it is!

Actually, it’s very relevant, given Ballard’s medical background and his observation in the introduction to Crash that we live in a time in which ‘Thermo-nuclear weapons systems and soft-drink commercials coexist in an overlit realm ruled by advertising and pseudo-events, science and pornography.’

Elsewhere, he elaborates, suggesting that we are:

moving ever closer to that junction where science and pornography will eventually meet and fuse. Conceivably, the day will come when science itself is the greatest producer of pornography. The weird perversions of human behaviour triggered by psychologists testing the effects of pain, isolation, anger, etc. will play the same role that the bare breasts of Polynesian islanders performed in the 1940s wildlife documentary films.

JGB, quoted in Linda S. Kaufman, Bad Girls and Sick Boys: Fantasies in Contemporary Art and Culture, 1995.

Of Ballard’s books, it’s The Atrocity Exhibition that most clearly makes the case for this fusion, something the RE/Search edition of Atrocity brilliantly enhanced with its anatomical art from Phoebe Gloeckner, art that very much anticipates the spirit of Delvoye’s ‘Kiss’. See for yourself: I’ve interspersed some of Gloeckner’s illustrations with a few of Delvoye’s x-rays, along with the usual allotment of Ballard quotes (although I think the one heading this post says it all, really).


Ballardian: Phoebe Gloeckner

ABOVE: Illustration by Phoebe Gloeckner from The Atrocity Exhibition (RE/Search edition, 1990).

BELOW: From the ‘Kiss’ series, by Wim Delvoye.

Ballardian: Wim Delvoye

A preoccupation with forensic detail characterises [Ballard's] writing: one thinks of the numerous accounts of sex in his extraordinary autobiographical novel The Kindness of Women. “I placed my hands on her hips and began to kiss the small freckles on her abdomen and the spiral scar whose pearly silver curved around the small of her back and ended below her appendix. This marked her kidney operation 10 years earlier, the Anderson-Hinds resection of the renal pelvis.”

Mick Brown, ‘From Here to Dystopia’, Telegraph Magazine, 2 September 2006.

Ballardian: Phoebe Gloeckner

ABOVE: Illustration by Phoebe Gloeckner from The Atrocity Exhibition (RE/Search edition, 1990).

BELOW: From the ‘Kiss’ series, by Wim Delvoye.

Ballardian: Wim Delvoye

Traven sees pornography as a kind of hyper-analytic response to sexuality. Normally, traditional sexual activity involves a sort of warm bath where physical activity and a world of mental affections blur into each other, and give rise of course to a huge number of problems. Traven takes the view ‘What is actually going on?’ — his own body and the body of his wife and of his on-off girlfriend, Karen Novotny, he sees their sexual identity as a mystery that needs to be decoded and dismantled. He sees pornography, which is emotionally neutral — pornography is sex with the emotions deleted — pornography is a useful technique for exploring what exactly is going on when two people copulate, when a penis enters a vagina, when a hand embraces a breast, when fingers explore clefts (which are obviously geometric structures which powerfully cue innate responses laid down in the central nervous system a hundred thousand years ago). Pornography is a way of dismantling all the excrescences that have grown around this sexual activity at its most basic, and finding the actual sort of operating elements.

J.G. Ballard, interviewed by Jonathan Weiss in 2006, commentary track on The Atrocity Exhibition (2000; film directed by Weiss).

Ballardian: Phoebe Gloeckner

ABOVE: Illustration by Phoebe Gloeckner from The Atrocity Exhibition (RE/Search edition, 1990).

BELOW: From the ‘Kiss’ series, by Wim Delvoye.

Ballardian: Wim Delvoye

Science is moving into an area where its obsessions begin to isolate completely its subject under the lens of its microscope, away from its links with the rest of nature. This is always the risk with science as a whole. The pornographic imagination detaches certain parts of the human anatomy from the human being and becomes obsessively focussed on the breast or the genitalia, or what have you. That sort of obsession with what I call quantified functions is what lies at the core of science; there is a shedding of all responsibility by the scientist who is just looking at a particular subject with a tendency to ignore the contingent links.

JGB, quoted in Jeremy Lewis, ‘An Interview with J.G. Ballard’, Mississippi Review, Volume 20 Numbers 1&2, 1991.

PS: Good old Wim, when not tattooing pigs, even turned the ‘Kiss’ series into a stained-glass window

Ballardian: Wim Delvoye

Wim Delvoye
Euterpe, 2002
steel, x-ray photographs, glass, lead
78 3/4 x 31.5 inches
200 x 80 cm
SW 02299

Author:
Find all posts by

Older: «
Newer:
»

31 Responses »

  1. Those x-rays are awesome and much more worthy of Atrocity Ex than those Phoebe Gloeckner illustrations, which personally I never liked.

  2. I agree — the x-rays are really wild! Can’t stop staring at them, myself. I like Gloeckner’s work, too, though…

  3. I’ve seen similar images before that were faked, but these actually do look like they’re real – I’m a radiographer, so I’d hope to be able to tell the difference pretty easily. As another radiographer already commented on the wordpress article you linked to, you wouldn’t find many people willing to stick their genitals in front of an x-ray beam unless it were for a pretty sound medical reason, not to mention the dose to thyroids, breasts and the lenses of their eyes, which are also pretty sensitive to radiation. Most of all I’m pretty shocked that they found a radiographer willing to take the images … must’ve gone private I suppose. You wouldn’t get that on the NHS, that’s for sure. Credit to the guy involved too – don’t think I could get wood when standing naked, smeared with barium in an x-ray room in front of a (presumably smirking) “artist”.

    Oh, and just because I’ve got the knowledge to be pedantic on the subject, I’d just point out that barium’s not actually a liquid, it’s chalky barium sulphate powder that you mix with water to form a suspension, sort of like calamine lotion or some antacid things. Comes in strawberry flavour too.

    Not sure about the “artistic merit” of the images myself, but they do tie in with some aspects of the Atrocity Exhibition … I suppose … vaguely … good excuse to post some mucky pictures anyway.

  4. Thanks for the radiographer’s perspective! Very interesting. I agree: not a very erotic situation for the models.

    However, I’d argue that it’s more than a ‘vague’ connection with Atrocity, but a very definite one. Don’t you think those quotes bring the connection into sharper focus?

  5. two words: hans bellmer

  6. Bellmer worked with dolls. Where’s the connection?

  7. “Sex Times Technology = The Future”

    J.G. Ballad

  8. Besides his dolls, much of Bellmer’s drawn artwork dealt with translucence; incredibly detailed x-ray visions of what’s going on with (& within) the genitals during the often disturbing sorts of sexual situations he was expert at depicting. Genital folds merge perfectly with internal organs during the sex act, etc… You can try to image-Google some of it but not much is available, I guess since it’s beyond explicit. Books are your best bet & there are some amazing ones out there on him. Or better yet, galleries (I’ve yet to see an original Bellmer myself but hope to one day).

  9. Ok, that’s very interesting. I didn’t know that. Thanks Rick!

  10. [...] series, SexRays, takes pornography to a level of science many, including the author of this article, find disturbing. Is it the sex, is it the clinical, autopsy-like connection? Gilding, however, [...]

  11. [...] “The fusion of science and pornography” (totally NSFW x-ray artporn from Wim Delvoye) [...]

  12. I was reading about deth of ballard, and make a interview at poet Alan Mills was reading something book of this autor, and the interview I imagine a writer in the place with ours. one day after publishing, Ballard die. Is incredible.

  13. [...] (source, attention: this link is NSFW; more about Wim Delvoye here and here) [...]

  14. [...] “Normally, traditional sexual activity involves a sort of warm bath where physical activity and a world of mental affections blur into each other, and give rise of course to a huge number of problems. (…) He sees pornography, which is emotionally neutral — pornography is sex with the emotions deleted — pornography is a useful technique for exploring what exactly is going on when two people copulate, when a penis enters a vagina, when a hand embraces a breast, when fingers explore clefts (which are obviously geometric structures which powerfully cue innate responses laid down in the central nervous system a hundred thousand years ago). Pornography is a way of dismantling all the excrescences that have grown around this sexual activity at its most basic, and finding the actual sort of operating elements.” -J.G. Ballard, interviewed by Jonathan Weiss in 2006, commentary track on The Atrocity Exhibition via Ballardian [...]

  15. [...] (via) [...]

  16. [...] Amazing merger of art, science and pornography. [...]

  17. [...] Un autre regard… février 09, 2010  //  Posted by: Xerxes  //  Category: Couple, Insolite Ballardian » ‘The fusion of science and pornography’ (WARNING! Exceptionally unsafe for…. [...]

  18. After YEARS iof work, I FINALLY got two of my Balardian-trachnoviolence videos compared to pornography…. what a compliment! Here’s the vids – which earned me a fine RED WARNING from the idiots at YouTube – after bringing them 4+ MILLION hits! so I just moved them. New free vidhost VIMEO.com is looking like it’s gonn eat SueTube’s Lunch! In Internet Time…
    Produced 2009…

    CRASHCRASH (let it load… be patient…)

    http://www.livevideo.com/media/playvideo_fs.aspx?fs=1&cid=B3F76BD56D8645BCAF5ED558BC2EBBC9

    TICKING TICKING TIME BOMB! (PATIENCE! )

    http://www.livevideo.com/media/playvideo_fs.aspx?fs=1&cid=379E4BAFEBB84C86B727C2E5591AFA21

  19. [...] Ballardian: In The Atrocity Exhibition] Traven explores what most people would regard as pretty frightening pornographic imagery; he explores with the kind of eye of a forensic pathologist. He treats sexual desire as if it was something stretched out on an autopsy table; he takes a woman’s body and dismantles it – not literally, but almost literally – and constructs a kit which is literally that. I mean inside of a suitcase, as you show in the film, there is a set of the key elements that we respond to when we become sexually aroused – a pair of latex breasts, nipples, detachable pubic hair… [...]

  20. [...] En Ballardian, nos sugieren otro tipo de imágenes que también analizan la sexualidad profundamente. Se trata del proyecto X-Ray Love (2001), del artista Wim Delvoye que invitó a sus amigos a pintarse con montañas de bario (el líquido que se usa para los rayos-x) y a dejarse fotografiar mientras hacían el amor con sus parejas en una clínica. Las imágenes resultantes son… sorprendentes. #gallery-2 { margin: auto; } #gallery-2 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 33%; } #gallery-2 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-2 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } [...]

  21. You guy are missing the point of this experiment:

    Sucking d**k gives you caries!!!

  22. many bridges dental fillings. How old are they? According to these dental work could be grandparents!. Or did not like their massive teeth and decided to fix it?

  23. [...] HAZ CLICK PARA VER LAS FOTOS [...]

  24. [...] cómo no, el sexo siempre interesa. Estos días atrás ha tenido bastante relevancia en la red una serie de imágenes que no son otra cosa que radiografías de sexo explícito: besos con lengua, genitales, sexo oral, [...]

  25. [...] never a bad time to check out The Diary of a Teenage Girl author Phoebe Gloeckner’s extravagantly NSFW illustrations for Ballard’s The Atrocity Exhibition — well, unless you’re at work, in which case it’s a very bad time to do so. [...]

  26. Xray inside sex in this link

    http://porn-photoshop.blogspot.com.br/2012/08/see-inside-sex-xray-by-sky-liberdade.html

    Sky.

  27. [...] de ciencia y pornografía [NSFW] Sort Share http://www.ballardian.com       3 months [...]

  28. [...] X-ray pics by Wim Delvoye. You can learn more about them here. [...]

  29. JG Ballard wasn’t the only one to think along these lines, and Win Delvoye’s a wee bit late on the scene, such as it is. Stanislaw Lem wrote a preview to a non-existent book of such photographs back in the eighties, unless it was actually written in the nineties and translated in the eighties. It’s in Imaginary Magnitude
    http://books.google.co.nz/books/about/Imaginary_magnitude.html?id=SaUFAAAAMAAJ&redir_esc=y
    “These wickedly authentic introductions to twenty-first-century books preface tomes on teaching English to bacteria, using animated X-rays to create “pornograms,” and analyzing computer-generated literature through the science of “bitistics.” … “

  30. Sorry, corrigendum. I meant “written in the seventies and translated in the eighties”. Can’t have these SF writers warping time, can we? It’ll upset all the notables on the Steering Committee for the Campaign For Real Time.

  31. […] http://www.ballardian.com […]

Leave a Reply