Immersion: Porn watches “porn aficionados lost in ecstatic release”

This may be unlike any documentary I’ve previously covered, but an art project’s documentary that’s about real people being filmed while talking about and actually watching other real people on a screen doesn’t get more appropriate for reality blurred. Also, it’s about sex.

Robbie Cooper’s Immersion: Porn film, produced for Wallpaper magazine’s sex issue, is an 18-minute documentary that features people discussing their relationship to pornography, but there’s also footage of them watching porn, stimulating themselves, and having orgasms. Surprisingly, it’s not (necessarily) erotic. As Wallpaper notes, the result has “startling power and unsettling intimacy” but “is not easy titillation. These videos throw up any number of questions about voyeurism and exhibitionism and make clear the incredible nakedness of the solo sex act.”

Cooper previously filmed kids playing video games, and wrote of that, “I find it fascinating that someone’s character seems so evident in the footage of them playing or watching.” He also cites hyperreality philosopher Jean Baudrillard‘s Simulacra and Simulation in the description of his Simulations series.

About this new project, Cooper notes on his blog that “fMRI studies show that the brain starts simulating sex as soon as you see the action,” so “it’s interesting to record this type of activity without the part of the image that’s going to limit it to titillation. And I think the combination of that, with the further intimacy of them talking about their experience of porn is quite powerful. However, if they came across badly or were unsympathetic, it would be exploitative.”

Still images from the project are in Wallpaper’s July issue, but the full film is on Wallpaper’s site. There’s no nudity, but frank discussion and, well, footage of people’s faces as they masturbate.

Video: Robbie Cooper: Sex, Sighs & Videotape and Immersion: Porn by Robbie Cooper [Wallpaper]
Wallpaper Sex Issue [Robbie Cooper]

Review: Married at First Sight

Marriage At First Sight

In an era of Tinder and Grindr, instant acceptance or dismissal of a potential partner, or instant sex with another body, Married at First Sight offers the thrill of watching strangers deal with the very basics of relationships.

Beyond the headline-grabbing premise, the series has turned out to be a stripped-down, authentic exploration of something very interesting. Read the full review.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.