[ISEA97] Paper: Elena Gorfinkel & Eric Zimmerman – Technologies of Undressing: The Digital Paper Dolls of KISS


What happens when you cross softcore porn and paper dolls with Japanese Anime and the Internet? You get KISS, a Japanese digital paper doll program that exists as free-ware on the World Wide Web.Our presentation examines the cross-cultural, semiotic, technical, and interactive implications of the phenomenon of KISS. The KISS user interacts with the paper doll program by undressing lavishly clothed bodies of adolescent Japanimation girls. Genres for the doll figures range from sci-fi battle cyborgs to catholic school girls in plaid miniskirts to leather-clad bondage seductresses. KISS represents an incredibly rich vein of hybrid culture. Our presen-tation will touch on the many genres of pop culture from which KISS draws, such as Japanese Manga and Anime. KISS fetishizes technology as it plays with fictional bodies. The interaction of the user with the software is curiously unique in the digital world, requiring repeated, frantic clicks and drags to”unlock” the dolls’ underwear. In a spiraling crescendo of strange sexual technologies, the gestures of the user are conflated with the on-screen narrative of soft-core foreplay. The audience of KISS is diverse, from little girls to hardcore anime fans to classic Internet geeks. That KISS’ audience is so broad speaks for its potency as an aesthetic object and an engaging activity. Interestingly, the fans of KISS are also the creators of the dolls, and our paper will highlight the interactions of this group of producers/consumers on the KISS email mailing list over the last year. During our presentation, we will surf through a sampling of KISS sites as well as interact with the KISS software itself.

  • Elena Gorfinkel (USA) is a NYC-based freelance writer. She has published on the web—at www.flat.com—and in print, most recently in /IC-magazine. Her research interests are in style, visual excess, and popular culture. Elena’s conference pre­sentations include a paper on TV talk shows at Harvard’s Center for Literary and Cultural Studies”Dirt”Conference, and a presentation on “Geek Chic” in film and fashion at Bowling Green State University’s”Style” conference. She is currently a Master’s student in NYU’s Cinema Studies pro­gram. She holds a BA in American Studies from Hofstra University.
  • Eric Zimmerman (USA), NEW YORK UNIVERSITY, USA. Eric Zimmerman is a founding partner of Flat Inc, a new Manhattan-based game development company. Flat cre­ates digital and non-digital entertainment products based on Artificial Life technologies, combining design, technical, and marketing R&D to generate new forms of culture. Eric is also an Adjunct Professor at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program and has published in a number of journals, including 21C and ID magazine. Before creating Flat Inc, Eric held the position of Senior Game Designer at RIGA Digital Studios in New York City, where he conceived and creative-directed award-winning game and edutainment software, including Gearheads (pub­lished by Philips media) and The Robot Club (published by Time Warner). He holds an MFA in Art and Technology from the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design at OSU. Eric also received a BFA in Painting from the University of Pennsylvania.