Never let it be said that I don’t support the arts. *grin*
From: Allucquere Rosanne Stone
Subject: PGP: The Public Genitals Project
For immediate release:
You are invited to join
*** PGP, The PUBLIC GENITALS PROJECT ***
For the next week, as part of the Fifth Annual Cinematexas Short Film, Video and Performance Festival (http://www.cinematexas.org), live models wearing TFT color flatscreens over their genital areas are walking around Austin, Texas. The screens display images of genitals sent to the project’s Internet server by interested contributors from around the world. The images are modified in real time according to a computer algorithm based on the number of times the words “SEX” and “VIOLENCE” appear on the web pages of CNN and MSNBC.
Contributing to the project is simple and easy. Just digitize your genitals — by digital photo, scanning an analog photo, or scanning live — and ftp the digitized photo by anonymous login to 220.127.116.11 . High resolution photos, rather than compressed jpegs, are preferred. All sexes and genders welcome.
The overall Project will be documented online at http://www.actlab.utexas.edu beginning Tuesday, 17 October 2000.
PGP, the Public Genitals Project, is designed to playfully question the boundaries between inside and outside, revealed and hidden, representation and reality. It deals quite literally with mapping body memories onto bodies, and with projecting body images from layer to layer of social presentation and representation from skin outward to clothing. It also collapses distance and time by using realtime imaging from sites around the world mapped onto bodies in Austin.
Each PGP unit consists of a video broadcast receiver, battery pack, two small loudspeakers, and two laptop computers with flat screens (backlit TFT type) worn by a person walking the streets of Austin. The computers are modified to allow the motherboards to be taped to the backs of the flat screens. In one version of the design the person is naked except for the screens, which are attached to suspenders and worn so they cover the genital areas front and back. In the second version the person is fully clothed except for cutouts over the genital areas front and back, within which the two screens are mounted. The receiver and battery pack are attached to a belt which is worn around the waist. Hardware and software development was done by teams of volumteers from the RTF Convergent Media program working out of the ACTLab, supervised by the artist.
In operation, participants worldwide send images of their genital areas via webcams to the Project server. The received images are digitally manipulated according to an algorithm driven by the number of times the words “sex” and “violence” appear on the webpages of CNN, MSNBC, and CBS. The digital manipulation abstracts the images; in other words, they cease to be representations of individuals’ body parts, instead becoming more like imperfectly remembered things — the more the terms “sex” and “violence” appear in the media, the more that actual body images recede toward imagined recollections. The images are then broadcast to the belt-mounted receiver, and displayed on the two flat screens. Concurrently, the loudspeakers present ethnographically recorded narratives of personal experiences with nudity, shyness, and desire, which are stored as sound files on the computers. The juxtaposition of images and physical body surface is meant to convey the illusion that the viewer is looking through a transparent electronic window at the surface of the wearer’s body.
PGP, the Public Genitals Project Design Team:
Design and Concept: Allucquere Rosanne (Sandy) Stone
Project Assistants: Michael Allan; James Craig; Ryan Gibson; Todd
Gurkis; Kurt Korthals; Micah Magee; Emily Mae Smith.
Inspiration: Richard MacKinnon and the ACTLab/Convergent Media Seminar in Theory and Methods of an Unnameable Discourse, 1995-1999 (http://www.actlab.utexas.edu).
For further information contact Cinematexas, email: