[ISEA2022] Paper: Stahl Stenslie & Zane Cerpina — Ecopornography in Digital Arts


Full Paper. Session: Critical Robotics / Ecologies and biotechnical relationships

Keywords: Ecoporn, ecopornography, digital arts, hyperreality, hyperaestheticization, anaestheticization, contemporary digital society, hypernature

This paper investigates the presence and use of ecopornography in digital arts. Here, “ecopornography” or “ecoporn” is defined as the representation of nature intended to stimulate the viewer into a heightened state of arousal and excitement similar to that when exposed to pornography. There has been an exponential growth in ecopornographic content in contemporary society and culture due to the massive use of digital media and technologies. Ecoporn is now more common, accessible, and persuasive on both personal and societal levels than conventional porn.

This paper calls for an in-depth analysis of nature-related content across digital media and media arts. How can digital arts be more critical in exploring and exposing the effect of ecoporn on society? When does ecoporn’s hyperaestheticization of nature lead to an anaesthetic loss of sensation? A new taxonomy of ecoporn can help us reflect on these questions. Five major subcategories are proposed: a) Nature Pure, b) Nature Rough, c) Nature Hurt, d) Nature Saved, and e) Nature Fake. Finally, the paper introduces the “Ecoporn Personality Test” – a digital tool that allows users to explore their ecopornographic preferences and tendencies.

  • Stahl Stenslie (NO) artist, curator and researcher, specializing in experimental art, embodied experiences and disruptive technologies. His research and practice focus on the art of the recently possible – such as panhaptic communication, somatic sound and holophonic soundspaces; disruptive design for emerging technologies. He has been exhibiting and lecturing at major international events (ISEA, DEAF, Ars Electronica, SIGGRAPH) and moderated symposiums like Ars Electronica (Next Sex), ArcArt and Oslo Lux. As a publisher he is the editor of EE – Experimental Emerging Art magazine (eejournal.no), he has written numerous scientific articles and co-founded The Journal of Somaesthetics (somaesthetics.aau.dk). His PhD on Touch and Technologies (virtualtouch.wordpress.com)
    Former professor in new media at The Academy of Media Arts, Cologne; The Oslo National Academy of The Arts; Aalborg University (DK). Currently head of R&D at Arts for Young Audiences Norway (kulturtanken.no)
  • Zane Cerpina (LV/NO) is an interdisciplinary female author, curator, artist, and designer. Cerpina lives in Oslo and currently works as project manager/curator at TEKS (Trondheim Electronic Arts Centre) and editor at EE: Experimental Emerging Art Journal. From 2015 – 2019 she worked as creative manager at PNEK (Production Network for Electronic Art, Norway). Cerpina is the author of the The Anthropocene Cookbook: Recipes and Opportunities for Future Catastrophes, co-written with Stahl Stenslie and forthcoming at MIT Press, October 2022. Her extensive body of works also include curating and producing Meta.Morf 2022: Ecophilia; FAEN (Female Artistic Experiments Norway); The Dangerous Futures Conference 2018; Oslo Flaneur Festival 2016, and The Anthropocene Kitchen event series (2016-). Cerpina has initiated and been part of several important archival and research projects such as The Norwegian Media Art Library and is one of the editors for the Book of Electronic Arts Norway.