Realcore, the digital porno revolution


The word Realcore comes from the two general expressions used to classify pornography. Softcore is fully simulated sex; in Hardcore porno, actors perform sex for a photoshoot or a movie, using all the props of movie productions: lights, backdrops, make up, editing, special effects, etc. Internet amateur pornography instead seems to be much more concerned with reality: pictures of real people with real desires, having real sex in real places. This is why I call it Realcore.

Realcore is deeply connected to the web; it began to happen in the late 90s, when two tools became available: digital cameras, that enabled people to take pictures without developing and printing, and free web spaces (such as the Usenet Newsgroups and later Yahoo! and MSN groups) that, at the time, allowed to publish them and to create free special interest sex groups. Then, apparently, porno accounted for the majority of all web traffic and it was mostly made of scans of magazines from the BBS era. But this material was very boring and repetitive (as is most Hardcore), and it covered only a small spectrum of human sexuality: the so called norm. Realcore filled the gap(s).

The very first sexual interest group that came together online were the BDSM and fetish communities. Since the 80s they had been independently producing their own photo and video material. Also, given the radical nature of some of their practices, they needed to share informations and tips, to meet, to find partners, etc. Their images were among the first examples of Realcore, and layed some rules that still apply to Realcore shooting style today: wide angle (to catch a whole situation and not just detail), long unedited segments, non-fiction quality of the narrative. The camera is often inside the action, and talked to; it films real people people, not actors. There’s no make up or extra light: a low-fi style that makes the medium much warmer, forcing viewers to integrate what they see with their imagination. In Fetish Realcore (an immense galaxy of sub-genres) the people portrayed are often fully dressed, and sometimes they aren’t visible at all, challenging the definition of pornography itself; very often here, porn is in the eye of the beholder. These images are radically different from industrial smut, to a degree that is unsurpassed by any other form, like music or art. What’s more, contemporary industrial porn often employs a similar aesthetic, clearly copying Realcore.

Realcore is mostly for free: this is the ultimate evidence of the desire to be seen. An essential ingredient, because in Realcore, wether hetero or gay, kinky or vanilla, what matters most to users is the reality of what they see. In this respect it is often very similar to the News or Reality Tv (of the disaster kind). Who cares if images caught by a CCTV camera are blurry and the angle wrong? Something else is going on, and it’s so much more compelling that quality doesn’t matter (more: in HD it would look fake). And, oddly enough in the age of surgical perfection, neither does beauty: this is the revolution of the normal – most of Us, including me and perhaps you too. There are, obviously, many controversial aspects about amateur digital sex photography: privacy, minors, non-consensual violence or animals. But these are separate worlds: most of the people and communities I’ve come across are actively involved in both filtering access to their material from minors, and preventing the spread of what they consider objectionable images in their groups, forums and photoblogs. The rule is clear: only consenting adults.
Later developments, such as the creation of millions of sub-niches (for example there are many different newsgroups for breast lovers: big, extra-big, small, non-existent, saggy, with or without surgical enhancement, with puffy nipples or large areolas, etc.) and the complex interactive digital practices (such as tributes, homage photoshopping or real time updating or streaming via 3G cell phones), put Realcorers on the very edge of digital humanity. Many of them lead very sophisticated technological lifestyles in a very casual, unaware manner, and although Realcore has deeply changed the face of commercial porno, they managed to remain mostly free. True gift economy (with mutual satisfaction), special interest groups (as in the vision of web founders), advanced interactivity, digital lifestyle, challenging of beauty standards, bold exhibition of joy and satisfaction: if there’s a message here, is one of positive change.

This research is presented in a one hour, stand-up digital culture show with 100 images. You can contact the author about booking a show through the email form. Unsuitable for minors, recommended to everybody else!

 

 

 

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