michael j. morris

Sketches of Shame; queer porn

Different new projects/potential projects in the works.

This week I start rehearsals with Daniel Holt. I am restaging/recreating Sketches of Shame, a piece I made with Clara Underwood in 2007. I already know there are things that are changing. From the “original,” I think I am retaining Clara’s solo, which will be performed by both Daniel and me simultaneously. It is not set to counts, and the timing is not necessarily precise. I’m interested in the fluctuation of drifting in-and-out of unison, how the aligning and misaligning of bodies/actions/pre-determined gestures articulates something about the shame experience as one predicated on the sensation of falling out of line/out of synch with the/a regulatory normality. Here the choreography functions as that regulation, we are both approximations, but there is no absolute measurement; we are each variables being treated as constants in the assessment of the other . . . this seems to me to be central to the production of bodies, genders, sexes, sexualities, etc. It is also my intention that a significant portion of the piece be done watching one another. That might enhance the analogy (observation and the sensation of being observed are central to the shame experience), or it might break the analogy in that watching one another without falling into perfect unison will be difficult. Or maybe not. Perhaps the deviations will become much more subtle, but the remaining disparities are would be more acutely analogous to the slippages of bodies/genders/sexes/sexualities that are attempting to adhere to regulations. Maybe.

There is another section that will be new material, added at the front end of the piece. It’s still very new, and I’m a bit guarded about discussing it. We’ll see how it goes and how much makes it onto the blog.

Another project that occurred to me yesterday that I might consider as a study for my Theorizing Performance course this quarter is an analysis of queer bodies and queer sex in a survey of queer pornography. This is building from earlier ideas about pornography as non-sanctioned sex education and an archive of human sexual behavior (there is a recent wealth of research on pornography as a source of sexual information in adolescent development, and it is at this intersection of development along with developing sexual identities–which might take place beyond adolescent development–that I see pornography as a relevant line of inquiry into the socialization and education of [sexual] bodies), and queer pornography as a radical intervention for expanding the range/scope/possibilities of such an archive (and thus, in effect, the range/scope/possibilities of bodies/identities that are educated and circulated back into culture/society). My interest is in developing a lexicon for the bodies and relationalities demonstrated in this media, particularly in the work of pornographers such as Madison Young (who has specifically addressed fluid sexuality in a series of docu-porns), Shine Louise Houston (crashpad), and Courtney Trouble, among many others. I’m thinking of something like a survey of 20-30 performers in 2-5 films by each director. I don’t know what I’m looking for yet . . . that’s the nature of developing a lexicon, allowing it to be emergent from the data sources considered. Things to consider might be: self-identification (do these performers identify as queer, genderqueer, female, male, trans, etc. etc. etc.); bodily configurations in sex acts (parts of the body involved, how they are involved, etc.); performance of roles within these configurations; inclusion of extra-bodily components (dildos, condoms, gloves, etc.); number of participants; and whatever else comes up. Maybe.

Those are two projects that are in my mind right now. We’ll see where they go.