Local Arts: Arse Elektronika weekend and arses up at Dodgyfest III
Couldn’t make it out to the “Oscars of computer art” at the Ars Electronica Center in Linz, Austria? Me neither, but thanks to Viennese techno-prankster collective monochrom, I could stay in San Francisco and experience a slightly more warped version at the 4th annual Arse Elektronika instead. An exploration of sex, tech, and space -- inner and outer -- Friday evening’s lineup of lectures and presentations turned the Center for Sex and Culture into a grown-up game of show-and-tell.
First up was “Spaceman” Sam Coniglio of the Space Tourism Society presenting on one of his favorite topics: “Sex in Space”. Unfortunately, as Coniglio notes, this is not NASA’s first priority as a research topic and the jury is out on whether or not anyone has ever successfully joined the 217-mile club or not. (If so, “they’re not telling.”) But such lack of information hasn’t stopped the hopeful from designing prototypes of gear that might assist in future feats of space sex. With the help of volunteers, Coniglio showed off his own favorite, a plushy “snuggle tunnel”—like a giant slinky covered in velveteen.
Jason Brown’s extremely entertaining talk, “The Endosymbiotic Cha-Cha” took the concept of sex in space from the outside in, beginning with the premise that humans may fantasize about boinking a reasonably attractive, bipedal extraterrestrial race, but in reality, scale might be the real barrier. Perhaps alien life forms already live among us (or in us!) at a microscopic level. Are multiplying viruses getting it on while we suffer the side effects of their fevered touch? Wrapping up the evening was Heather Kelley, aka moboid, presenting an iPhone app she designed called Body Heat which allows the user to manipulate the speeds of a vibrator using a touchscreen. She showed off its incidental percussive potential along with Jordan Gray, or starPause, who accompanied her with electronic blips and sampled bits.
Such sexoterica was good food for thought, but I was feeling the need to get down and dirty. Luckily, Dodgyfest III was there for me. Ostensibly a birthday celebration for prolific rock photographer Mr Dodgy (Neil Motteram), Dodgyfest featured cake, t-shirts, and hi-octane rocking. Girls with Guns! Meat Sluts! La Plebe! It’s pretty hard to think of a feistier lineup, but just for kicks, Neil threw in a few extra tunes as frontman for the (very) occasional Bloody Hells. Taking a tongue-in-cheek page out of the Ramones’ rock-and-roll high school primer, the pseudononymous Meat Sluts (SFBG-recognized “Sluttiest Rockers”) bear monikers best suited for the bbq stand (Scarlet Spamchop anyone?) and their set list was equal parts carnivorous and lascivious -- man-meat featuring large in the lyrics. Turning up the heat was the ever-smokin’ La Plebe, who rather wholesomely avoid overtly sexual themes in their lyrics, though they always throw in “Dirty Old Town” for the punters. But their overriding message of personal liberty is always an aphrodisiac to the spirit, and their skintight ska-inflected riffs would make Buzz Aldrin wanna mosh. Space-sex fetishists take heed, sometimes the most fun you can have is with your clothes on after all.
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