This short video art piece assembles pornographic images drawn from the Internet into an abstract and extremely beautiful collage. Floating squares of porn imagery (the squares are a Betancourt stylistic trademark) are overlaid with more organic shapes, made from images of male masturbation. The images are also broken up by a variety of kinds of digital ‘noise,’ resembling TV scan lines and pixilated digital tape dropout. Betancourt’s color scheme, full of deeply saturated lavenders, olives, blues, with hints of mustardy yellow, is rich and sensual. A driving score which combines a mechanistic techno beat with the sounds of a woman in the throes of sexual passion compliments the imagery perfectly.
If this piece did not have the porn images, and was completely abstract, it would simply be visually gorgeous in an uncomplicated way. The presence of sexual imagery, even if largely obscured by the digital artifacts and the complex design, creates a more complicated experience. The video can be read on one level as a celebration of sexuality enabled by electronic means; the visual sumptuousness conveying the pleasure involved. But the obscuring nature of the digital overlays, always hiding the “good bits” from the eye, creates a continual experience of frustration, the same ambivalent frustration involved in on-line sexual encounters, where one simultaneously revels in the anonymity and the psychic distance, while feeling that the interference of the computer interface and the low bandwidth resolution of the information continually subverts any possibility of a satisfying sexual experience.
The sheer visual pleasure of the piece left me feeling I could have watched it for much longer, porn or no. Very short duration is another hallmark of Betancourt’s style, and there is certainly something to be said for leaving a viewer wanting more. Once again, Betancourt has captured a complex emotional experience in a very short piece.