Imagined Perfect Image

“The graphical interface of online pornography must be thought beyond representation and towards something like an ecology, zone between cultural systems and human subjects, the interspace between information, space and tasks supporting environments.”

Pornographic streaming sites are often used as examples of poor design because of their chaotic nature. However, these designs are highly strategic and can inform prevailing understandings of design and immersion in knowledge media design. The content of this lecture is part of a study which seeks to investigate how the pornography industry designs for desire and how this may differ from similar practices in other industries. Specifically, this lecture examines the strategic interface designs of online pornography websites that pull viewers into a trance like flow that requires no complex cognition. Viewers constantly shift to new images, creating a process of browsing in which pleasure derives from the habitual and repetitious delay and deferral of satisfaction. Within this flow, viewers are absorbed in the process of browsing online, blurring the distinction between human and machine. However, in contrast to mechanistic understandings of design which focus on feedback loops and minimize frustration and maximize satisfaction and efficiency, the design of pornographic video streaming sites is often labyrinthine, rambling, and chaotic, creating an environment for wandering, browsing, and meandering. Such an approach to design recognizes a probabilistic interaction with interface and reveals interface as a cultural value system that finds expression in the graphical organization of information.

The Speaker

Patrick Keilty, Associate Professor | Faculty of Information and Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies

Related Research

Keilty, P. (2012). Embodiment and desire in browsing online pornography. Proceedings of the 2012 IConference on – IConference ’12, 41–47.

Keilty, P. (2016). Embodied engagements with online pornography. The Information Society, 32(1), 64–73.

Keilty, P. (2018). Duration and Desire. Library Trends, 66(4), 487–510.

Keilty, P. (2018). Desire by design: Pornography as technology industry. Porn Studies, 5(3), 338–342.