RUBICANE DRAWS PORN

RubiCANE Draws Porn
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RUBICANE DRAWS PORN



Written by James Read
30 Monday 30th January 2012

RubiCANE is an alter-ego of portrait painter and one half of The Correspondents, Ian Bruce. Under this guise, Ian has compiled these drawings into a book, accompanied by a series of essays, poets and short stories. He describes himself pretty well in the introduction:

“I am a tourist of pornography and the internet is my transport network. I mostly travel for free. I might take RedTube to Amateur and get off at ‘Cum Cutie’ or jump on Gaytube to Muscle Dudes and visit ‘Glory Hole Sweat Lodge’. There are up to half a billion people travelling with me at any one time.

I assume that I am different to them as I mostly have a pencil in my hand.”

 

Tell me how you started work on this project.

Well, moving into my own studio made a big difference, because I always felt like I was performing to people in a shared space. Drawing pornography might've been seen as a bit indecent surrounded by people around making quilts and stuff - not that I have anything against quilt-making!

So I started drawing porn, and it became sort of a compulsion. The more I drew, the more issues were raised. So I formed those into questions about the nature of porn, and how it affects people. I thought about producing a simple catalogue of all these images, but I wanted there to be explanations, which is why I included the texts.

So how would you separate looking at porn for pleasure, and as research?

Well I think I've had to be fairly self-disciplined, because your first reaction is usually "does this turn me on or not?", but by the time I finished the project I had become pretty quick at bypassing that!

What does turn you on?

Well, I think things have changed, through exposure to loads of different imagery. There's a real difference between being turned on, and enjoying it. I really enjoyed looking at a lot of queer porn - I can't say I was always turned on by it. I enjoy the narratives it created; I enjoy the fact that genders can be confused. Like, "she's using that strap on on that guy, who looks just like a girl, and then another girl comes in, but oh, they're actually a trannie" - I really enjoy watching that kind of thing, because after a while you start to forget about categories, and the association between gender and action. [Gay porn star and contributor] Jiz Lee puts it well when he talks about 'cisgender', which is the social construct that decides that if you're a man, you'll act sexually in a prescribed way. Queer sexuality is all about dissolving that, so that you remove those rules.

Why did you choose to incorporate poems, essays and stories around your images? And what do you think the book might've been without them?

I think the book could've been misconstrued without the writing to back it up, because some of the imagery does adhere to the predominant narrative in porn, i.e. physical and verbal violence towards women. I wanted the book to have a feminist stance, and I wanted it to answer questions, for example, I wanted to know how disabled people have sex. I didn't have much of a grasp on queer porn, so Jiz Lee wrote a manifesto about that.

For sure, one of those issues has to be about the exploitative nature of porn. Where does your book sit within this, and what are your feelings on the morality of porn?

I don't think I'm commenting on morality. Anything goes when you have two consenting adults. It's hard to condone violent sex unless it's totally consenting, and that consent isn't usually made explicit. So, you or I might like to indulge in S&M, and if our partner is into that then there's nothing wrong. But the problem is that 95% of porn online is degrading towards women. Sapphire Steele [BDSM mistress] describes it as a four act tragedy - verbal abuse, physical abuse, hard fucking then cumming in the face. And the problem is there's no overt consent.

One of the most enlightened adult production houses is Kink.com, which deals in really hard BDSM. One of the writers, Lorelei Lee, is part of that. So she might be engaging in something really severe like being waterboarded, or have electrodes attached to her. But at the end of the scene they all sit down and have a chat, and she'll discuss what worked for her. I think that's great, because it shows that she's in control.

For a lot of teenage boys, internet porn is going to be their introduction to sex, and if they're watching videos where you don't see women completely agree with what they're doing, they've going to assume that's normal, and that's how sex works. And that's pretty unhealthy. 

 

While some of the images depict the mundanity of pornography - say, a girl unzipping her pants - otheres show fairly fantastical sexual acts (I'm thinking here of Leda and the Swan). Where does the line lie for you between reproducing porn and producing artwork?

Well, with that image I thought it would be fun to play with art historical referencing. I don't think there's another image of a black Leda being taken from behind by the swan! So I enjoy twisting those things. It's interesting to play with people's perceptions, and confuse what's taken straight from pornography, and what's imagined - because porn's a fantasy in any case.

And in some of the images it's hard to tell at first what is happening - for example in the above image (papercut wheelchair), you have to pay quite close attention to work out what is going on.

Hopefully that makes people try and understand it better - if the viewer were looking at the raw image, they might decide I don't want to see that, or "that turns me on".

But either way they know how to read the image.

Exactly, and hopefully in figuring out what's happening you're becoming acclimatised to the subject matter. Like in the fisting image, because people go "oh, what's that?", and it takes a minute to work it out. Whereas when I've shown people the original footage, they've immediately reacted negatively, because they feel that they can't deal with it. So maybe by looking at something and appreciating it as a drawing, or the form or whatever, you might become more accepting of the sexual act being portrayed. Or you might think "I never wanted to see that".

It's about easing them in gently?

You don't want to be revealing the rosebud too quickly!

So you are donating a percentage of the sales of the book to the charity Outsiders. Tell me about them.

It's run by this amazing women Tuppy Owens, as a network for disabled people to meet and talk about sex, and they have seminars on stuff like how to have sex if you're a wheelchair-user. She talks a lot about how modern medicine kind of says "You're functioning, so that's alright", and denying that disabled people have the same sexual urges as anyone else.

How many hours did you clock up looking at pornography?

There was a point where I was watching porn 9 - 5, it was pretty much a full time job! My poor girlfriend... Every session would start with me hunting through, and finding some really weird stuff, and some of it was terrifying. If someone was to look through my history, even though I know there's nothing illegal in there, it was unbelievable how many times you could stumble across links to child porn sites. It was very nasty how easily accessible it was.

Tell us about the Check List piece of writing, submitted anonymously.

One of my favourites! It was written by a dominatrix who lives in the States, and comes over to the UK to see clients. So that's everything she takes with her when she travels. I mean, her luggage must be so heavy! Without wanting to sound pretentious, I think it has a kind of poetry to it. There are little phrases that seem so indecipherable, like 'Pig Mask (financial)', which is just below 'Doggy Bowl'. And what's really interesting is the section on the cleaning products, because of course you can't leave a hotel room in that state, so you need spray bleaches and things like that. The last thing on the list is a CD to measure time, so that she knows when her client's hour is up. And weird stuff like smelly socks or holey tights, that leave you wondering.

Like trying to figure out how a cake might taste from looking at its ingredients?

Exactly! She's ready for any eventuality. But I think when you read it your imagination will probably produce something far more extreme than what shes's probably doing.

You use the name RubiCANE in your book, but present it as a character from IanBruce, the portrait painter and one half of The Correspondents. How do these three alter egos sit together, and influence each other?

Well, almost all the RubiCANE work is drawing on paper or card, and I rarely work on it in my studio. Usually it's stuff I do either in my living room, or in hotel rooms while I'm on tour with The Correspondents - it's a slightly nomadic practice, as opposed to painting up in my studio, which is usually larger, figurative work. In terms of influence though, I think the next series of paintings will have a fetish element to them.

Speaking of hotel rooms, you've got a few pieces that were done on hotel stationary. Reminds me of Wim Delvoye's Anal Kisses series, where he applied lipstick to his arsehole, puckered up and 'kissed' headed stationary from a number of hotels. It's interesting as a medium, as a shorthand for that life on the road.

Haha, yes, well also lots of porn is made in hotel rooms, and certainly plenty of it is viewed in hotel rooms! And they have a resonance, because you know that lots of people have probably had all kinds of weird sex in the same room over time. Part of it is the decontextualised nature of "staying a night in a hotel", making as much noise as you like, that kind of thing.

To finish up with an easy one. Well, an easy one for me to ask anyway! What would you say is your favourite piece?

I'm making a poster out of Moneyshots (see detail, top). For that one, I went through the blow job section of a load of video sites, and looked for the POV clips. I think they're really creepy, looking down at girls, often with ejaculate on their faces. It appeals to me because I'm very inclined towards portraiture, and because I think they're ambiguous - some of the girls look pretty innocent, and they're smiling, and then some of them are really quite violent. But there's nothing explicit about them, because I haven't included any penises, so there's this 'elephant in the room' that you can't see.

There's this website that just shows peoples faces (guys and girls) as they're having orgasms. It's erotic, but I guess it's not porn in the strict sense. It's interesting that most pornography ignores the most expressive part of the body.

And Warhol did a 35 minute video (Blow Job) of a guy's face while he's receiving a blowjob, and it's in slow motion. It's fascinating, the way it contorts through apparent anger and pain to complete nonchalance. Then at the end he smiles at the camera and lights a cigarette.

I agree though, the face is the most important sex organ. To finish on a pretty amazing fact that [TV presenter and wheelchair user] Mik Scarlett discusses in the book about how disabled people can teach able-bodied people how to have sex. One of the most amazing examples that he uses is a technique called Hands Free Masturbatory Erogenous Zone Creation. He talks about a tetraplegic who had trained himself to have an orgasm simply by someone touching his nose! Isn't that amazing?

Wow - that's something for us all to aspire to!

Well, I'm hoping that I might surprise people who might think they'd never learn something about sex from someone who's disabled; who they might imagine doesn't even have a sex life, when in fact he's having this crazy and profound experience. If you've got boundaries, you think outside them.

 

Souvenir, by RubiCane, will be available from 14 February priced at £75, with 10% of profits going to charity – to find out more, visit Rubicane.com

The book will be accompanied by a show at the Society Club in Soho, also opening on Valentine’s Day.

Don't Panic attempt to credit photographers and content owners wherever possible, however due to the sheer size and nature of the internet this is sometimes impractical or impossible. If you see any images on our site which you believe belong to yourself or another and we have incorrectly used it please let us know at panic@dontpaniconline.com and we will respond asap.



Comments

  • Guest: b.miss95
    Thu 02 - Feb - 2012, 19:14
    Wow, only sketches of women, what a surprise.. and people will probably think it's daring when women are shown all over the media like this anyway. Oh, and sex, yeah like that's not talked about enough. :P

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