Arse Elektronika sex/tech conference starts tomorrow in San Francisco

The theme this year is "trans *" and the event features "Talks, machines, games, workshops and performances;" runs from Oct 2-5 at San Francisco's Chez Poulet (3359 Cesar Chavez St).

Trans is a Latin noun or prefix, meaning "across", "beyond" or "on the opposite side". What does that mean for sex and technology?

- Transitions, translations, transgressions, transistors & transducers, transactions, transmission (specifically sexually transmitted infections), transdermal?

- How does sex change as we age? As we grow, as we mature? And what about old age? Sex in nursing homes? Sex when people have lost much of their sense of identity with Alzheimer's Disease and the like, but are still horny, still sexual entities? How do pharma and biotech help/monetize this situation?

- Sex under drugs, sex under other altered states? Is Viagra a drug? At what point does a loss of cognitive function take away our ability to consent?

- Transnationality and sex. What about translations and transitions across cultures? For example: Hacking, porn, dissent in Iran? Purity Balls and the American obsession with virginity whatever that really means?

- How does our sex and our perception of sex change with the introduction of new gadgets? Who are the early (sexual) adopters? And what about the adapters? What about (white male) privilege and new gadgets? Google Glass Ceiling?

- SCOT (social construction of technology) research, such as that of Mackenzie and Wajcman, argues that the path of innovation and its social consequences are strongly, if not entirely shaped by society itself through the influence of culture, politics, economic arrangements, regulatory mechanisms and the like. So if its true that technology itself doesnt matter, but the social or economic system in which it is embedded (Langdon Winner), then what does that tell us about the transition from sex tech into the cultural mainstream?

- Is human sexual behavior transforming our planet? What's the sexual side of the anthropocene?

- Transgression and mechanophila? Is our technological society driven by erotogenic fixation on machinery? What about hardcore pornography such as Fucking Machines? Can this be seen as constituting the limit of current sexual biopolitics?

- Sex puppets, Real Dolls and the Uncanny Valley? A never-ending transition?

- Teagan Widmer's latest app, Refuge Restrooms, highlights the importance of providing safe public accommodations for trans people. How can apps like Widmers help with tasks that most people take for granted, like the ability to use the bathroom?

- Is trans* a controversial label online? How do we develop language-theory-activism in general? Programming languages are designed to be inclusive of "trans" in a broad sense for both binary and non-binary gender modalities. Does it have transmisogynist qualities?

- Feminists, among other critical scholars, have long argued the problems with the notion of the Transcendental. Focusing on the transcendental moves our attention away from the day-to-day struggles involving the material and instead replaces it with transcendent ideas and ideals. How is this manifested through issues of sexuality and technology? What can we do about it? What are the power struggles involved, positionalities afforded and relationships to, that transcendental modes of thought afford for socio-economically marginalized populations? Can we compare and contrast notions of transcendence alongside notions of immanence? What is the role of the body and embodiment with respect to transcendentalism? What are the implications of transcendental for power? Grassroots activism? Citizens' movements? Open source? Hacking? Can we have visions of the future without being transcendental?

- And, last but not least, since sex is a pretty biological thing (insofar as things are biological things), we want to remind of genetics with our theme. Genetic transformation/translation/transcription/transmission.

BUFFERING... Arse Elektronika 2014... "TRANS*.*"... October 2-5, 2014... San Francisco!

(Thanks, Johannes!)

Start the discussion at