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Shu Lea Cheang's Japanese Porn
and the Pussy-Matrix

Katrien Jacobs, Emerson College
Maurice Methot

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This paper considers a Japanese-produced digital sci-fi porn film, I.K.U.: A Japanese Cyber-porn Adventure, by Taiwanese-American filmmaker Shu Lea Cheang and the ways in which it rehearses a future condition for electronically networked sexual communities. I.K.U. departs from the much-hyped "newness" of new media and liberatory queer discourses that attend the World Wide Web. The film is partly inspired by Ridley Scott's Blade Runner (1982) and offers a keen meditation on the globalization of sexual agency, often defined in commercial advertising by a capacity to traverse gender and national boundaries independent of material conditions. Marketing strategies construct a global queer subject who purchases services instead of taking an activist position within sexual minority groups. Rather than gesturing toward sexual transgression defined by the entrepreneurs of online chatrooms or cybernetic designer wear, Cheang's curiosity lies in improvising within the realm of subversive eroticism disguised as "Japanese pornography."

Cheang's "Japanese pornography" offers a statement on globally distributed eroticism and cybersexual commodification. Not unlike Arjun Appadurai's notion of social practices articulated within a globalized imaginary, I.K.U. symbolically locates sex practices and pornographic consumption in the realm of transnational cultural production. The frame of analysis of porn production and consumption moves from nation-states to "in-between cultures where the edges of cultural belonging tangle and blur, the zones in which processes of translation hybridity and (mis)understanding occur, where meaning is formed and deformed, where national histories are made and unmade, buried and disinterred." Bearing cultural hybridity in mind, this paper will contemplate Cheang's refiguring of Japanese pornography with reference to globalized notions of space, queer pornography and feminist discourses.

Link to I.K.U

Link to My Homepage http://pages.emerson.edu/faculty/Katrien_Jacobs


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