Presentation by Helena Velena - Textfiles of Desire
Moderator: Tina Lorenz
With Helena Velena, Jason Scott, Ariel Efraim Ashbel
This panel focuses on the experience of active users and developers connecting the historical adventure of cyber-core BBSes (Bulletin Board Systems), ASCII porn and early cybersex with the contemporary use of online sex chats. Furthermore, it reflects on how video chats are changing the perspective of online sexual practices today, from early only-text experiments to the more just-in-time web platforms like Chatroulette and Manroulette. Before the evolution of the Internet as we know it today, an international scene of people put its own political, social and artistic relations directly into the DIY use of media. They connected through home computers and phone lines, developing open spaces of communication: the BBSes. The conscious use of technology and computers, battles for cyber-rights and open access to information were some of the main objectives. Among these, critical reflection on sexuality related to the use of technology opened up a field of action as a break-away from many political and cultural experiences of the era, where porn practices and sex minorities were often ignored and excluded. Today, many people are still experimenting with sex-chats and porn websites. On Chatroulette and Manroulette people have been interacting combining text-chats, web-cams and microphones, taking a different sexual approach than that of early cybersex platforms, which was often very libertarian and politically oriented. What can we learn from cyberculture’s past to empower our sexuality in the current, very commercialized, online scenario? Is it still possible to imagine autonomous zones of sexuality, or as many point out, has privacy become an obsolete concept?