Noise and Porn

If you fancy yourself a noise connoisseur of sorts, or rather a con(noise)seur, then you likely have picked up more than a few cassettes and 7-inch vinyls featuring cover art of nude and/or sexually explicit cover art.  Take Dominick Fernow’s scene-leading project Prurient, in which the name alone elicits images of a sexual deviant of sorts.  Prurient has numerous releases with classic lo-fi black metal/punk/noise cover art showcasing cheap shots of gritty pornography at high visual contrasts, as if it were a Xerox of a Xerox.  Not to mention,  Prurient’s latest double 7-inch record features cover art by the legendary Genesis P-Orridge depicting a partially nude woman in bondage.  The tradition of objectionable or subversive album artwork may have stemmed from a long history of punk rock and alternative culture that favors crossing societal boundaries and scrutinizing arbitrary systems of morality with easy ploys of taboo.

It also isn’t uncommon that former porn stars become noise artists themselves, with the most popular examples being Sash Grey’s band aTelecine and former bondage star Mayuko Hino’s C.C.C.C.  Hino has even incorporated acts of fetishism into her live performances, with bondage-style stripteases and even by throwing bags of urine into audience crowds.  It seems that noise not only decorates itself with pornography but that pornography actors are mutually attracted to the idea of noise as art and as (non-)music.

So is there some conceptual relationship between the art of noise and the art of fucking on camera?  Perhaps.  Take the aforementioned group C.C.C.C., which has always, especially for Mayuko Hino, focused its aesthetics less on common conceptual and intellectual approaches to noise and more on an emotive and even cathartic approach to the genre.  Considering noise as an act toward catharsis certainly puts it in a similar class to sex: the Freudian drive to relieve tension, if you will.

Blogger Emma Behnke suggested that this was less about sex and more about sexism in a male-dominated scene and that women in noise could have one of two options: assume a male-like role in noise or allow yourself to be sexually objectified.  She sources our previously mentioned porn stars, Grey and Hino, as well.  But many noise fanatics would argue that the sexuality of cathartic noise is a spectrum covering both genders.  It is not uncommon to see Dominick Fernow topless and convulsing about the stage in his own brand of male sexuality.  And as for female objectification, artists such as Leslie Keffer have done just fine at making noise their own without sexual gimmicks.  Not to mention Lauren Boyle’s 2008 documentary GUTTER: Girls of Noise that evidenced women rolling around with the boys, covered in bruises, and happy at home while maintaining their true female identities.  It would be more reasonable to conclude that noise in its creation and performance is very instinctive or primal to a degree, and thus inevitably sexual, even inseparably so.  Whether that innate connection proceeds toward exploitative territory is specific to each artist and their agendas.  But even if an artist has less than politically correct intentions, Behnke also proclaimed in her feature on sexploitation in noise that she could easily linguistically confiscate any music’s meaning and make it her own.

But however it is that you experience noise, whether in your head or through your entire body, there is something undeniably pornographic about it.  Inside of noise and power electronics, there is a depiction of erotic behavior or sensational activity that  arouses an intense emotional reaction in its listeners.  And we, the listeners, crave it, are indulgently addicted to it.  We are musical perverts.

The featured image is taken from Dominique Somers’ Pornographic Drawings, a series of drawings made by tracking the eye movements of a person while he is watching a porn film.


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