Langford Wiggins

This week’s readings propelled me to look deeper in the relationship between sex and power. I focused on the movie Caligula a 1979 Italian–American biographical film, showcasing the rise and fall of Roman Emperor Gaius Caesar Germanicus, better known as Caligula. This film is an infamous cult film best known for its pervasive and pornographic scenes.

external image bust-houston-museum.jpgexternal image Caligulaposter.jpg

The main character, Caligula, exerts his power and sexual deviancy in many forms, raping a bride and groom due to jealousy, proposing relations with his sister, and executes former followers in fear of losing throne. The emperor prior to Caligula is Tiberius who enjoys watching degrading sexual shows, often including children and various mystical creatures. Caligula observes the shows with a mixture of fascination and horror, soon taking part in and adopting the gruesome festivities.

external image 1979_caligula_003.jpg

external image 1979_caligula_023.jpg

In 2005 a trailer was released falsely advertising a remake of the film. The ad was used as a promotion for Versace's line of accessories and showcased the blunt depiction of diverse sexuality and desire for power. According to Michel Foucault, “mechanisms of power that focused on peripheral sexualities "did not aim to suppress it, but rather to give it an analytical, visible, and permanent reality". This film does not hide the sexual desires but showcases the obscene behavior making it a reality. In the ad you can see the mixed identities in the bodies and “body art” used by the participants.

The ad for the remake provides a connection between power, sex, technology, and fashion. Foucault mentioned that the connection between power and sex is always negative. The negative impacts of power and sex is evident in the demise of Caligula.


Lauren Jones
Mario Testino: The Neo-Camp?

Peruvian photographer Mario Testino uses his lens to showcase a life of glamour, affluence, drama, and sex. Testino’s work, in general, focuses on the flamboyant, over-the-top world of the rich and famous.

This style of photography is exciting and rich in color and life however, it is also highly affected and surreal. When I look at these photos, I cannot help but wonder what has been touched up via computer software, lighting, camera angle, etc. The purpose of lifestyle photography is to mirror a specific aspect of life, something true; yet, ironically, this particular genre, in general, is also the most false.
external image Mario-Testino%E2%80%99s-portrait-of-Tom-Brady-will-appear-in-the-exhibit-%E2%80%9CIn-Your-Face%E2%80%9D-at-the-Museum-of-Fine-Arts.jpg?9d7bd4
external image v-magazine-swimsuit-mario-testino-4.jpg
Mario Testino, in addition to doing work with celebrities, also exists as one of the major fashion photographers of our time. It was Testino who brought back life into fashion; thus, scorning the heroin-chic and models-as-hangers aesthetics of the past.

external image Mario-Testino-Karlie-Kloss-Bao-Bao-Wan-and-Shaolin-Monks-Beijing-2011.-Digitally-produced-Chromogenic-C-Type-print.-%C2%A9-Mario-Testino.jpg?9d7bd4

external image 09_06_2009_0329722001244532353_mario-testino.jpg
external image MarioTestino8.jpgexternal image Mario-Testino-9783570197745.jpg

In general, the artist’s style is a loud, and sometimes raunchy, exploration of beauty, vitality, power and excess. Testino’s female models are described as “confident, warm-blooded, and very in touch with [their] sexuality.” How, then, does this overzealous, telenovela-esque style of photography effect the ways in which we look at the body?

This type of over-the-top photography reminded me a lot of the essay by Susan Sontag on the ideals of Camp. For example:

“Camp is a certain mode of aestheticism. It is one way of seeing the world as an aesthetic phenomenon…[as a] degree of artifice, of stylization.”

“Camp sees everything in quotation marks…To perceive Camp in objects and persons is to understand Being-as-Playing-a-Role. It is the farthest extension, in sensibility, of the metaphor of life as theater.”

“The hallmark of Camp is the spirit of extravagance.”

Does the class think that Testino’s style is the new Camp? What effects does this overd-ramatized prowess of the body have on Hollywood? Pop culture? The everyday viewer?

external image jennifer-lopez-by-mario-testino-for-v-76-spring-2012-6-530x714.jpg

With Mario Testino, the body is power. It represents wealth, fame and glamour – all the things magazines such as Vogue tell us that we should want. Kate Moss, Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow, Gisele Bündchen are just a few examples of some of the bodies Testino features frequently in his art. These individuals already exude affluence and glamour in their person, alone, but Testino heightens that with his dramatic angles, lighting, coloring, and en media res scenes.

Testino uses new technologies in camera lenses and computer software so as to take snapshots of dramatic scenes that would otherwise go unnoticed in everyday life. They highlight lust, rage, sex, confidence, and so on. Even in more somber shots, such as his works with Kate Winslet, Emma Watson and Princess Diana, the pictures scream vivacity.

external image Fur-is-Dead-Mario-Testino-for-Vogue-Paris-Aug-08.jpg?9d7bd4
external image Fur-Men-by-Carine-Roitfeld-and-Mario-Testino.jpg?9d7bd4

For years now, Mario Testino’s work has been featured all around the world, most famously in such publications as Vogue and now even as an exhibition at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts called “In Your Face” – an apt title. This exhibition “recreates the photographer’s world and his people—formal portraits juxtaposed with private party snapshots, nudes with fashion, black and white with color, and interiors with exterior settings—making visitors feel as though they had stepped into the pages of one of today’s most entertaining and spectacular fashion magazines.”

Works Cited:


Manufactured Mannequin
Elizabeth-Burton Jones

To have a fascination with fiction is easy. It is something that a person does not have to commit to. One can have fun, but walk away when he or she wants to. Fiction is usually easy to escape. But, what happens when the fiction becomes reality? In the Stepford Wives and countless other movies, it is easy to see the temptation of an alternate reality.

[insert movies]

One of the questions in the “Considering the Hybrid (Sexed) Body and the Body as Inscription Medium” section in the Cultural Hybridity page asks why are the more mechanic counterparts viewed as more appealing ( One of the answers could be a sense of control of the few. In the Stepford Wives, a few men controlled the population of women. In other instances this control can be self-proclaimed. A woman can say that they want to control their body by having plastic surgery, but who is the plastic surgery really for? The plastic surgery could be for the attention of a man. This situation is not true in all plastic surgery instances, but it is a prevalent idea.
In Western culture, it seems as though, we are in a constant search to be in control of something. More often than not, that something tends to be our bodies. Last year, I took a very insightful class about the Philosophy of the Body. I have mentioned this class in other Wiki assignments, particularly wiki that I wrote about dolls. But this week, instead of looking at “Agalmatophilia (from the Greek agalma 'statue', and -philia φιλία = love) is a paraphilia involving sexual attraction to a statue,doll, mannequin or other similar figurative object.” . I would also like to observe (in addition to the mention of the Stepford Wives) the psychology of the mannequin.

The mannequin has many masks. It can be influential in the robotic world or it can be the canvas for fashion. There are many ways that the mannequin can be manufactured to fit not only different images but also different worlds.

However, the mannequin is also interesting because it can influence or be influenced. I would like to look at the way that it influences different people.
You might just find that certain merchandising tools, such as mannequins, can help you to brand your image, sell your clothing and accessories, and help you to make a lasting impression on your customers. Actually, an interesting window display can bring in a lot of new customers on its own.”( The way that mannequins help brand an image is just the start. The mannequins not only help brand an image, but they can make the customer transform themselves into the puzzle of the image. It's job is not simple. It is very complex.
The mannequin’s job is display the clothes in the best possible light. It’s a hard job to get into – the hours are long and employers will only hire you if you’re the epitome of attractiveness; because the same item of clothing worn by two people will generally look better on the more attractive one.
‘Male’ mannequins don’t have sunken chests and pot bellies, do they? The idea is to make you think you’ll look like that, if you’d only purchase the item of clothing.
Fair enough. But, why do they look like they do? Why am I supposed to find this particular shape and size woman attractive? I looked into it, but stuck to female beauty, because (a) it’s a more interesting topic (don’t ask how long I spent “researching” pictures), and (b) it has more relevance to issues like body image concerns, the effect of the media, and so on.”(
The influence of the mannequin on the world of beauty and self-image is very interesting especially in the way that they provide a mirror to the consumer. But, what happens when the consumer does not fit that image. What happens when the consumer is not like the mannequin? For instance, what if a man that has a "sunken chest" and looks at the mannequin as a reflection of himself, but later realizes that the mannequin is not a reflection of him but that the mannequin is a reflection of a group of people and not every one? Instances like these are very interesting and cause very reflective thinking. In some cases the effect of the mannequin and societies image of beauty can have extreme psychological reprocussions (anoexia, bulimia, etc).
How did I jump from the image of the Stepford Wife to the ongoing battle of beauty? This all started with the display case and the wooden mannequin. Over the years, I have seen a wooden mannequin culture. Wooden mannequins and puppets are more
Fashion and the mannequin. It has moved from more human to less human and robotic. It seems as though the history of mannequins has taken a turn from scientific to reality back to scientific. But first lets look at the history of the mannequin:
Mannequins have been around for thousands of years but their use in store display is more recent. Kings and Queens who were concerned about their appearance, like the ancient pharaohs, would have a dress form made to their body dimensions. The court dress maker or tailor would use the ‘dress form’ to display and make the clothes thus avoiding any royal embarrassment during the course of a fitting.
The evolution of this ancient crude dress form through the middle ages and up until just before the industrial revolution is unknown because there are so few written records and no museum examples to study. Wickerwork mannequins were certainly around in the late 1700s and were probably filled with stuffing and leather. Wire-framed versions came into existence in 1835 but mannequins were still not in use for store display. The invention of plate glass, the filament lamp and the sewing machine were the catalysts that put mannequins in the store.
In the 1880s window panes began to be installed in retail establishments and street lights started to appear. The improvement of sewing machines enabled ready to wear clothing to be made in large quantities. The industrial revolution also created a new middle class with money to spend on what was previously only available to royalty and landed gentry - fashionable clothes! More retail stores opened and the store owners needed mannequins to display the latest fashions.”

Through the history of the mannequin, we can better assess the psychological effects of the mannequin.
“Mannequins gradually became more lithe and realistic to reflect these changes but never could they be mistaken for the real thing. Not until the 1930s and Lester Gaba did realism become ubiquitous.
Lester Gaba was a soap sculptor in New York and was asked by a large department store if he could produce some mannequins in a more stable material with the same detail and quality that he could get with soap. He created six astonishing specimens from plaster that become known as the 'Gaba Girls'.”
But, when did mannequins start to reflect humans and vice versa?

“The depression and the Second World War brought about shortages and shop windows became rather somber with the mannequins of the day looking slightly melancholy and concerned. However it all changed when the war was over and by the late 1940s mannequins looked happy and prosperous, some of them even wore a radiant smile. Male mannequins in particular looked relaxed and some even had holes drilled between their lips for inserting pipes!”
This change of mannequins reflecting the era is very important to the psychological study because it shows the influence that people have on mannequins. A switch occured from the mannequins reflecting the people to the people reflecting the mannequins.

Mannequins were a frequent motif in the works many early 20th-century artists, notably the Metaphysical painters Giorgio de Chirico,Alberto Savinio, and Carlo Carrà.[9][10] Shop windows displaying mannequins were a frequent photographic subject for Eugene Atget.[5]
Mannequins are a common theme in horror fiction. Many people find mannequins disturbing (due in part perhaps to the uncanny valleyeffect), especially when not fully assembled. Abandoned nuclear test sites consisting of entire towns populated by mannequins appear in such films as //Kalifornia//, //Mulholland Falls//, and the 2006 remake of //The Hills Have Eyes//.
The cast of the satirical Japanese television series "The Fuccons/Oh! Mikey" consists entirely of inanimate mannequins with voices dubbed in.”
Lars and the Real Girl, a movie about a delusional young man who strikes up an unconventional relationship with a RealDoll”
The big point is that mannequins have the power to reflect reality and change someone's reality. But is seems as though the image of the mannequin has changed from having that power to influence to more of a scientific reflection.
This change can be seen in certain window shopping venues. In the past, it seems as though mannequins had a personal appeal. The mannequins had their makeup perfectly in place, there body shape was socially perfectly appropriate. However, in the days of a search for more reality, it seems as though mannequins started to come in every shape, size, and color. This shift can be seen in certain plus size stores and stores with a diverse clientele. But, now as a person shops, mannequins seem to have made the transition to the more scientific mannequin. This can be noticed over the past few years. The switch to the scientific begs the question of fantasy and control. Just like the images from the Stepford Wives, mannequins can have a sense of control. In the era of the personal mannequin, control was a huge factor. But, now consumers more frequently walk by a more scientific mannequin without personal features. It seems as though the mannequin has changed to being controlled. More questions:
why are some cultures longing for a control to be something what we are not? Maybe it is the wonder the unknown the power that a mighty body has?
Does the shift to the scientific strip all sincerity from a work, or a piece of fashion?
Works Cited:

Elizabeth-Burton Jones

M.A. Candidate & Communications and Admissions Assistant
Communication, Culture and Technology (CCT)
Georgetown University

Week 13: The Hybrid Body

Meggie Schmidt
Body Modifications of African Tribes in Mainstream Western Culture

For this weeks readings I choose to focus on various historical and present tribes in African that use modifications on the human body as a representation of beauty, aesthetics, status and/or rituals. These body modifications are widely accepted within their tribe and some are even condemned if members do not follow their practices. Predominately women are designated to follow these costumes but some tribes or cultures, both men and women. Although body modifications exist all over the world, I choose to focus on African because of their rich cultural history and traditions. Ear stretching, neck rings, and scarification are commons among tribes as they represent many different symbols of their culture. I have noticed that even in western cultures, some of these practices are becoming common. Why are ancient cultural practices now coming back into mainstream culture? What cultural implications do they produce? Are there stereotypes associated with a dramatic body modification? Who is engaging in these practices?

These practices can be viewed as retro. Retro is defined: “relating to, reviving, or being the styles and especially the fashions of the past: fashionably nostalgic or old-fashioned” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). Although many of these cultural trends, relating to the body, began in the past, many still occur today and have spread into western culture such as the United States.

Ear Stretching began in several places across the world. By focusing on Africa as a continent, numerous countries and tribes within these customs have practiced ear stretching in the past and continue in present times. In Africa the Mursi tribe in Ethiopia has been active in ear stretching as a cultural tradition that both men and women engage. This practice has spread from Africa into mainstream American culture. It began as a practice to display one’s tribe, as a right of passage as well as a symbol of beauty (African-Tribe).

ethiopia-ear stretching.jpg

Currently in American, ear stretching has become mainstream. People of all different races, genders, and socioeconomic classes have engaged in this practice. It is interesting to look deeper into why it came about, why people continue to mark themselves irreversibly, and what are the cultural implications. This article below hypothesizes why this trending has currently been increasing.

Ear Stretching.jpg

Neck Rings are when metal is placed around the neck of an individual in increasing numbers as an ornament. It holds various meanings and symbolic representations of one’s culture (Wikipedia, Neck Ring). This is found in Africa, specifically the Ndebele tribe in South Africa. The rings display traditional attire and remains as a status of one’s wealth and culture. “Iindzila” is the correct term for the brass or copper brings that are inserted along the neck. Today in Africa, brass and copper neck rings are not commonly found among local tribes. Beads can be found in their place that give the impression of the stretching that was found in the brass and copper rings. This still symbolizes the same things as before such as wealth, social status, various rituals, and a woman’s beauty (“African Neck Stretching”).
neck rings.png model necklast.jpg

Although Neck Stretching with various metal rings is not common among western cultures, by looking at trending in fashion and different jewelry that is created, it seems that it may be modeled after this retro African body modification.

African neck stretching beads.png Model Beads.png

Lastly, scarification was originally practice by African tribes that involved a permanent body modification that is achieved through burning, branding, etching, or cutting of the skin. By some African tribes it may represent a milestones or stage in ones life. Where as other tribes use it as a source of identification of one’s tribe or to treat a certain illness. Scarification is still observed in African tribes and it has also spread into modern culture (Wikipedia, Scarification).
African scarification.gif modern scarification.jpg
African body modifications have been around for centuries. Further research on the growth of these trends in Western culture would be needed in order to determine various questions above. There is no denying the retro quality of these body modifications and their continued impact on tradition,society, and culture.


Sagorika Sen

History of sexuality with Hindusim, victorian influences & effects on today's popular culture,media

Hinduism has always had a tradition and history in relation to nudity. Depiction of Sexuality in gods & goddesses has been part of the Hindu sense of spirituality since times immemorial. In fact the Hindu temple of Khajuraho has always been the cynosure of public attention because of the depiction of cryptic kamasutra positions on its walls.

Even the goddess of strength "Kali" who is worshipped across the country is essentially a nude woman who accidentally stamps on her husband's body and so has her tongue out to show that she has erred.
Given our deep rooted history in nudity how did India become the land of the sexually oppressed? In our readings this week Foccault says that victorian sexuality was repressed as a result of capitalism. This victorian sense of sexuality reached india due to colonialsm and other forms of western influences.
Hinduism's obsession with body Modification is also known globally;

These practices of body modification, nudity have transcended cultural boundaries and found themselves in subtle ways in commercials, movies & other forms of media.

In this commericial for instance there are such subtle sexual undertones that have remnants of what hinduism is all about. Yet there is a very repressed conversation trying to be generated .
Hindu folklore of super humans, flying gods & goddesses has also gotten transformed into movies like Krissh which is short for Krishna (who is a well worshipped god). The Bollywood movie Krissh is a story about a super human with alien like powers (a spin off of Super man)


Sara Anderson

Resistance is futile

external image images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTPZJTyvpk7K4f-XfwNr4AI6JHcVItrJ8_9OsVA36lTLk1MP_9H
This image shows Seven of Nine as played by Jeri Ryan before and after being extracted from the Borg collective. While she does not retain much of her cyborg look, her hybridity is still an important part of her character's identity.

Star Trek looks at cyborgs in one of the most interesting ways through the Borg. Typically the Borg are portrayed as drones, parts of a collective. However, there are a few irregularities. For example, characters interact with the Borg queen as though she is an individual, even though she represents the collective. She is not overtly sexualized, but she insinuates potential relations with various characters. In some ways it is what makes her more human than the other Borg. They all have organic bodies enhanced by technology to some extent or another, but there is something fundamentally inhuman about them because of their hive mind. She blurs that line a little because she understands humans more than the rest of the collective.

Another slightly different example is seven of nine, a crew member in the Voyager series. She is an interesting case because she doesn’t have the extensive mechanical attachments you see on the rest of the Borg. She understands humans, but not in the same way the queen does. It’s more like she knows facts about human behavior but doesn’t really fit in. She also still has dormant ties to the collective that make her place in any group seem ambiguous. She is an attractive woman, and there is at least one time in the series where she calls out a crew member for attempting to engage her in “idle conversation”, and tells him she notices that his pupils dilate when he looks at her body.
The Borg collective provides an interesting look at sexuality as well because they do not reproduce. To expand the species, they assimilate others. Seven of nine points that out in one episode when the doctor attempts to explain procreation to her.

This clip is interesting because it demonstrates emotional development of the seven of nine character. She says “you are hurting me” to the Borg who refuses medical assistance, and he responds “you will adapt”.

Elisabet Diaz Sanmartin

"Posthuman" Theatre of La Fura dels Baus

( go to minute 2:39)

La Fura dels Baus(literally the Oxen’s Fury) started as a small experimental theatre company that gain international fame after leading the opening in the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, with an spectacle inspired by the Mediterranean Sea. Since then, they focused on the creation of spectacles for the bigger audiences with complex mise-en-scene, provocative content and abstract performances. Sexuality and violence, constant subjects in their performance, push the actors and the spectators to leave any prejudice outside the theatre before the performance starts. La Fura del Baus has its own signature language; indeed they call it “language Furero” (Furan Language). On their website they defined it with the “use of non-conventional spaces, music, movement, the application of industrial and organic materials, its incorporation of new technologies and its interaction with the audience during the performance.” (La Fura)
Babylon. La Fura dels Baus.png

La Fura’s content stems from Freudian ideas, explaining human complexity and the clash between desire and repression. La Fura is like a dark brother of the Cirque du Soleil, as it seeks “total art” by emulating procedures of “La Commedia della-arte” and by having several gigantic spectacles that itinerate around the world. In its pursued of the art total the company has found itself comfortable in the opera format. Classical tragedies such as Oedipus, The Magic Flute or Oresteïa among others. Even though the mise-en-scene is always provocative, the company has gained the respect from the usually conservative opera audiences

<iframe width="420" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

XXX. Fura dels Baus

They are constantly experimenting with technology in their performances. In one of the most controversial operas XXX the actors incorporated cameras in their costumes and a cameraman recorded some scenes that are projected in the background. The spectator was able to see from different perspectives of the acting breaking the conventional “fourth wall perspective.” The performers became “posthumans” expressing themselves through technology. In the playbill of XXX, the company stated that they wanted to "Unleash the subconscious and bring inclinations out (preferably sexual), to let them flow freely out of any moral bondage". Some argued that La Fura del Baus seeks to provoke with its outreageous content and visuals; however, they are pushing the envelope of moral values. It challenges the Victorian vision that Focaoult suggest has influenced our attitude toward sexuality-“restrained, mute, and hypocritical”- by performing western taboos in a non-conventional manner.
Captura de pantalla 2012-11-12 a las 21.29.57.png

Captura de pantalla 2012-11-12 a las 21.29.02.png
XXX La Fura del Baus

To reach the status of “posthuman” the performer needs to experiment with his/her body before and during the representation. The performer, as a bit in a computer, has to flow in a bigger network of elements interconnected. The nodal element of the show is technology, that mediates the action by connecting the bodies, the voices and the images. For example in the case of XXX the performers are cyborgs, and through them reality is augmented by technological prosthesis, not only by the projection of the scene a screen but also with multiples screens. As it was a cubist painting, the representation of reality is dismembered by the different mediated viewpoints.
Captura de pantalla 2012-11-11 a las 22.44.47.png

La Fura dels Baus offers a summer course in the official school of theatre (Institut del Teatre) in Barcelona. These courses are a platform for theatre students to get involve in the company projects. However the training is an intense three-week process where the student get familiarize with the philosophy of the Company. The first week is devoted to disinhibition pushing the students towards their lowest “insticts” in order to free them from any taboo or previous condition that can prevent him/her to be expose to a specific type of performance. The goal is to explore the corporal expression without the social conventions and prepare the person to be an element of an “hypermediated” representation.

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

La filosofia del tocador tachada de pornografica.

Entrevista a Ballard