To search for an exact match, type the word or phrase you want in quotation marks.
A*DESK has been offering since 2002 contents about criticism and contemporary art. A*DESK has become consolidated thanks to all those who have believed in the project, all those who have followed us, debating, participating and collaborating. Many people have collaborated with A*DESK, and continue to do so. Their efforts, knowledge and belief in the project are what make it grow internationally. At A*DESK we have also generated work for over one hundred professionals in culture, from small collaborations with reviews and classes, to more prolonged and intense collaborations.
At A*DESK we believe in the need for free and universal access to culture and knowledge. We want to carry on being independent, remaining open to more ideas and opinions. If you believe in A*DESK, we need your backing to be able to continue. You can now participate in the project by supporting it. You can choose how much you want to contribute to the project.
You can decide how much you want to bring to the project.
At first, it only happened to me after an orgasm, that is, my orgasm, not that of the protagonists of the video. For some reason I still can’t figure out, at the moment when desire dwindles and one wipes themselves and closes the browser tab, I began to let the videos play until their conclusion. Catholic guilt would hit me suddenly at those moments and I was ashamed to continue observing the body of the woman or man I had wanted a few minutes before. Sometimes it was barely thirty or forty seconds but other times it went on more than five minutes and I didn´t know where to look. And that might be when I started looking the other way.
It was then that the bodies disappeared and space became present: the color of the walls, the structure of the room, the furniture, the paintings or photographs that hung on the walls, the fabric of the curtains. Bodies were erased and the house emerged. Space existed and became revealed as something more than just a background. The house became a living being.
Over time, my attention extended beyond the end of desire and began at the beginning of the action in the videos. When the protagonist (man or woman) opened the door and entered the house with a surprised face, I took my time and paid attention to the details of the place, while the bodies were still dressed.
It wasn’t long after that the bodies almost ceased to matter to me and I concentrated entirely on the space. Masturbating then became a mere excuse to explore the rooms where the sexual encounters took place. I fast-forwarded close-ups of the people to try to get a glimpse of the space. I moved the navigation bar to the next perspective change. I began to be aware that each new sexual position was associated with a specific point of view. I especially enjoyed the cowgirl POV position, as the position of one body astride another gave me the perfect view of the entire room, from the sofa or from the bed, although I preferred the sofa because it allowed me a greater depth of field. The bed only served to reveal the lights, the moldings, the shadows or cracks in the ceiling.
The body was just a veil in the space. The flesh hid the stone. An iconostasis. Only very occasionally, a nipple, a penis or the undulating movement of a pair of buttocks would distract me and my gaze returned to the bodies.
A man receives an offer to write a text for A*Desk about architecture and pleasure. Almost immediately, he goes to his library and starts reading Richard Sennet’s Flesh and Stone: The Body and the City in Western Civilization. It’s a historical book and it’s not really what he’s looking for, but the title made him think about the relationship between soft (human) bodies and hard (architectural) bodies, between the perishable and the eternal. Flesh and stone. The contrast has always evoked something sensual in him. A complex body. Which is probably why he also looks for Edificios-cuerpo (Buildings-Body) by Juan Antonio Ramírez, and thinks about the body as architecture and architecture as a metaphor for the body. The perfect body, but also a broken, cracked, headless body. He reads Bataille and also Denis Hollier (Against Architecture): the open body, like Gordon Matta-Clark’s anarchitecture.
Little by little the table fills with books. There are those by Beatriz Colomina, especially her Sexuality & Space, with her idea of domestic voyeurism, and Victor Burgin’s famous essay on perverse space. There is a study of the Playboy mansion architecture by Paul B. Preciado in Pornotopía, a concrete example of how architectural space is traversed by ideology. And there is, of course, the catalog of 1000 m² of Desire. Architecture and Sexuality, the CCCB exhibition curated by Adélaïde de Caters and Rosa Ferré in October 2016. He was not lucky enough to see the exhibition, but the catalog gives him an idea of the themes of the project (sexual utopias, libertine refuges and sexographies) and the ways in which architecture has constructed and modified the ways of experiencing desire and pleasure. Space thinks, it is said. And it also feels and generates emotions.
When I moved a few years ago, I spent months on the websites of various real estate sites. I would surf for hours looking for the perfect home. Although I couldn’t help noticing the prices, the location and the square meters of the properties, the photos of those houses (many of them still inhabited) quickly became revealed to me as spaces of desire. Naked body erotic spaces. Sometimes I sensed the shadow of the author of the photo or the flash of the camera in the mirror, and also the remains of their presence in the house (the mess, the wrinkled sheets, the objects on the table). The hidden body, invisible latency. In the end, they were not so far from the spaces I had become obsessed with. Sometimes I would open the Idealista and Pornhub websites at the same time and try to locate similar spaces and points of view. When I found them, I tried to mentally superimpose them. And if, later on, I visited those houses, I couldn’t help but recall the moment of pleasure and, trying not to be seen, I would rub up against the corners or caress the stucco. On those visits I knew something was missing. I needed a screen to feel throbbing desire. Photos or videos. Represented space. An additional dimension of reality.
For days, a man tries to give shape to a text, but he is not an architectural historian and the text becomes unruly. If anything, the man is a critic of visual culture. Perhaps that’s why he closes the books he has on his desk and turns on the television looking for something to write about. It is there that he finds How to Build a Sex Room, the Netflix documentary series in which an interior decorator designs the perfect sex room for the enjoyment of couples (or cohabitation units) who contract him. The series brings together all the clichés of what a sex room is supposed to be: red velvet, feather cushions, organic shapes, round beds, black leather. Everything new and ready for the selfie. All happy and clean. “Nobody imagined that a sex room could be so cozy,” says one of the couples. “No more dark dungeons.” It is the Netflixification of desire. Even sadism is soft. Caresses, contact, a little slap, a soft pinch. Nothing hurts, nothing annoys, everything is inclusive and pleasant. The man imagines he could watch the show with his eight-year-old niece.
The house I ended up buying is a house like any other. A nondescript house that has absolutely nothing special. However, when I turn on the cellphone camera and look through the screen, the space becomes transformed and begins to vibrate in front of me. The graininess of the video turns everything into a place of desire and the image takes me to a different dimension from the physical one that surrounds me. I can verify it now, lying on the bed, while I observe the small imperfection on the frame of the bedroom door. The small drops of plaster in the corner is a scar that excites my retina. I feel a hard erection in my underwear. I don’t need a body on top of me.
As he analyzes the How to Build a Sex Room series and tries to write a text, the man can’t get aroused at all. Of course, it has to do with the light-hearted tone of everything shown there, but it’s also the fact that there is something in those officially sensual spaces that is anathema to pleasure. They are prepared, obvious places, so archetypal and predisposed that they douse his desire. The dirty, pre-renovation spaces are much more exciting to him. The dark basement with the exposed bricks and electrical cables, the bare room with a mattress on the floor and cushions with printed images. Perhaps these unmodified spaces remind him of the rooms in home videos that, from time to time, he watches on the internet. His gaze often moves away from the bodies and becomes lost in the details of those trivial houses. He has often thought that he could project an essay on those anonymous places. He has even gone so far as to outline a story about a character seduced by architecture and the fetishism of space. He thinks about it carefully: maybe that’s the only thing he can write for A*Desk. After all, the man is a narrator. What he doesn’t realize is that by writing it down it will put him into the skin of the character that he invents, and that at the end of the day he will find himself naked on the bed in his bedroom, looking at his house through the cellphone screen, fearing the arrival of his wife while leering at the deep, dark cavity that seems to form at the end of the hallway.
All screenshots are from the Netflix series How to Build a Sex Room.
"A desk is a dangerous place from which to watch the world" (John Le Carré)