"...Sliding Slowly, Painfully into Obsession..."
by Carrie LeBlanc, Mistress of the Arts
While skimming through a copy of Wednesday's edition of The Times (normally the more conservative of England's broadsheets), imagine my surprise when I was confronted with the large print text: 'Cannibal trial to hear from a meal who got away' supported by a photo of a particularly Aryan-looking chap shown with all the accoutrements associated with a nicely digesting meal: self-satisfied smile, cigarette, tipple and all. According to the text, Bernd-Jurgen Brandes responded to an internet invitation to be eaten by the happy diner, Armin Meiwes, both of whom happen to work in the computer industry.
The men feasted together on Herr Brandes's penis, apparently made all the tastier after a quick sauté with a bit of garlic, and then, in an act of after-dinner anti-consumption, drained his blood into a pool of warm water. Still alive, he was transported downstairs for the denouement, during which Herr Meiwes carved Herr Brandes into manageable segments for easier storage in his freezer compartment. Herr Meiwes claims that both men were satisfied with this arrangement, and participated with full acknowledgement of what was to occur. Fair enough I say (we're all adults here, no?), though sadly for both Herr Meiwes as well as for (one imagines) Herr Brandes, the police, holding a contrary view on the acceptability of consent and cannibalism, have interrupted the contract, arresting the now repentant Herr Meiwes with plenty of Herr Brandes still stashed, labelled and awaiting bake/broil/fricassee in the deep-freeze. Oh, justice, she is such a fickle arbitrator of morality.
Writing a review in which both the reviewer and the reviewee acknowledge that the act (that of the reviewing, the negotiated space between two unknowns) is taking place is one of contractual engagement which follows a similar storyline: request, consumption, surrender, and recontextualization. It is a little like love, starting with excitement for the newness of a somehow familiar other, sliding slowly, painfully into obsession, captivation, followed always by punishment of the other for the erstwhile satisfying of desires that weren't meant to be met, and then there is the end. A merger. The transmutation of otherness into something substantial and all-too familiar. This could lead into one of two directions: blissful contentment or unfathomable boredom. So, I ask you Supervert, now that I have thrown our relationship into the light, which shall it be?
The cool periwinkle exterior belies the contents of the website. Here the visuality of aesthetic and fetish are withheld and the experiencer of the site is forced to make a choice: confront the text or leave. Where to go? How are you to know without illustrations, pictures, garish juxtaposed blobs of color to choose for you? The eye scans this way and that, looking for guidance, hoping to grasp something sensual in, around or behind the text. The experiencer is simultaneously subverted and empowered, and shivers with confusion. Sort of like negotiating the sculpture of Richard Serra, but with more promise of physical gratification; you are sure of this because in your haste you've spotted words which hold such promise: sex, perversity, errr, extraterrestrials. You are flustered, desperate and then, finally, with a sigh of relief you find it; you know what you want and it compels you: immediate and direct interactive contact, not for the purposes of control, but for dialogue, surrender. There, on the left, the ubiquitous 'test' (a webpage's version of fucking, I'm sure).
(The ability for an electronic medium to cause affective response is highlighted in the Supervert.com pages to a much more significant degree than the average textually-based page. Because of this, one is tempted to highlight the aesthetic even if it is only made evident through its lack (one might argue that all of the most enjoyable aspects of life are only evident through their lack). While this can be unnerving, it is intentionally so, thus the careful deliberation and attention to detail on the part of Supervert surely represents a cross-over between art, technology, text and aesthetic embodiment which has as yet been unfulfilled in other media. The politics of perviness are laid bare to us as a text and as a concept, in design and in format; art and anti-art. To participate in/with Supervert.com is an experience of interrelativity on ecstasy rimmed with a healthy dose of paranoia.)
Satisfied that you've been acknowledged, that you've been bent over the ether-table, thoroughly scrutinized and deemed acceptable based on your color choices and ability to withstand a graphic image or two, you allow yourself to read. Or you've been forced to read. You don't know which and you don't care; because while you circle around the information, cautiously at first, like one trying the parameters of 'no means no' with a new amour, you're desperately hoping that there will be something here you've been looking for, something you've been waiting on....
Yet frustratingly, all the while you are suspended at arm's length. Reading doesn't come naturally to you; long, drawn-out, calculated sessions of intellectual foreplay have taken a backseat to the Mtv-ization of shocking visual cues and scantily clad women holding up, pointing to, or sitting on the product you're meant to consume. What to do with all of these monochromatic....words? How am I meant to...ingest...all of this....information?
Supervert provides us with an invaluable resource; particularly in its superb crafting as both an ontological and phenomenological critique/experience (rare in these days of spoon feedings and pandering to the lcd [lowest common denominator]): we sit, we've decided to participate, we WANT to participate, we've read the agenda (yes, we got that far), we want to be a part of what is happening (for we get the distinct sense that something IS happening), even if we are unwilling to delve into the root of that desire, and so we start to peel back the skin, with each section that we read another piece comes apart, we add a dash of spice to distort our perceptions of the actual occurrence (perhaps we skip around the site a bit to regain a sense of normalcy, normalcy meaning control), we allow ourselves to consume and purge, cyclically, and through our haze we have some awareness of the outside world and what the outside world is thinking (PervScan.com told us so) and we wonder if this is ok, is it ok what we're doing now? Is it really any different than the World news on page 16? Is it ok to rationalize, conceptualize, or manipulate the experience of the 'in-between'? Does Supervert know what I'm reading, how I'm reading, how long I've been reading? Am I being sectioned, kept, analyzed, deconstructed, frozen?
Supervert.com is not for the tourist pervert. It is not for the anti-intellectual, or the anti-aesthete. Perhaps that is what makes it a bit dangerous, a bit enticing, akin in a Cronenebergian kind of way to a chrome fender. But as the tale of Herr Brandes and Herr Meiwes surely demonstrates, one should be careful about the contracts one enters into over the internet. If you manage to extract yourself out of Extraterrestrial Sex Fetish long enough to contemplate, you may find yourself asking, as I am right now whilst typing these words, 'Who's eating whom?'.