PORNOPOLIS is a manifesto aiming to bring an erotic dimension to our cities and our connection with them. Its main purpose is to urbanize the industry – and in a larger scale, the practice – of sex in order to decomplex hidden spaces in chinese architecture and turn them into an alternative and erotic metropolis. This Graduation Master Project is closely linked to my Graduation Master Thesis done earlier on my last year in architecture school. This thesis deals with the contributions of the Playboy magazine in terms of sexual and gendered design and architecture during the 50’s and the 70’s in the USA. By treating themes like media coverage on sexual imagery in our contemporary media and the ubiquity of digital prosthesis in our intimacy, this project presents several sexual utopias (pornotopias) taking place in hidden spaces of chinese architecture.
Who influences you graphically?
I can’t really think about particular influences right now, actually it changes quite all the time. During the production of these images I was really into a retro-futuristic mood, influenced by the aesthetic of the 60’s to 80’s. I didn’t realize it back then but the Memphis Design Group had a great influence on my work in some kind of way. During this period, my tastes definitely did go to sensual references such as Hajime Sorayama or Moebius ; but generally speaking I appreciate very colorful and saturated images. Graphically, I’m all about textures. It starts like that : I see a texture I find interesting (an image found on the Internet, a photography I took…) and I try to push the saturation, to stretch it, to make it become a pattern. It could be a marble, water or glitch texture, it doesn’t really matters : I find the inspiration in the grain it contains.
I just love to spend hours creating weird, contrasted images on Photoshop -even if sometimes it means never using them because the result doesn’t fit to what I thought was my first idea.
How could a specific format as maybe that of a Playboy magazine -or an immersive environment through virtual reality have helped in articulating and formatting the proposal?
From the beginning, I’ve thought this project as diverse extracts confronted together, creating a global consistent mood. Just like the Playboy magazine did, I wanted all these juxtaposed images to be the visual support of the statement I was expressing, which was strong. To illustrate the pornotopias was without any doubt the hardest part of this work. It took me to be very clear on my intentions and not to picture naive positions or presumed representations of what a sensual city could be. During all the elaboration of this Graduate Project I was constantly on the edge -jungling between the defense of my postulates and the correctness of their representation in terms of images. Finally, the project is presented as several sequences taking place in a true “nowhere” with a chinese background.
You talk about a Manifesto, in what way have you structures this to be ‘Manifesto’?
PORNOPOLIS. Manifesto for an erotic city. finds its roots in the thesis I wrote entitled ARCHITECTURE & SEXUAL UTOPIAS. The Playboy magazine as a catalyst for new urban pornotopias. This thesis deals with the contributions of the Playboy magazine in terms of sexual and gendered design and architecture during the 50’s and the 70’s in the USA. In the pages of his magazine, its creator and chief redactor Hugh Hefner has invented a new, domesticated, emancipated and sexually liberated masculine figure. Through localized and hyper connected sexual utopias, Hefner’s ideal playboy influenced the social and sexual habits of its time and even continues to do so today in our contemporary cities : this phenomenon is called urban pornotopia. My reflexion in this thesis is turned towards the possibility or not to create a new urbanism taking into account our sensible and sensual desires. Finally, through the prism of « derivatives Playboy spaces », is it possible today to imagine an erotic city – a real Porno Polis ?
In direct continuity of this thesis I wanted my statement in PORNOPOLIS. Manifesto for an erotic city. to be clear, universal, inspirational. I structured it as an alternative to our urban habits I find hypocritical when it comes to sex. It was essential to me to denounce that, in parallel of proposals who could activate and stimulate everyone’s own private fantasies. It is to me a Manifesto as it has the power to raise questions in people such as : “What could an erotic city be like ?”, “Am I for more sincerity and transparency in my sexual practises ? And in the others’ ?”, “What will I find behind a closed door when I know I’ve taken a step in the Pornopolis ?”, “Do I feel comfortable with the idea of a uncomplexed, graphic expression of sex in the urban environment ?”… I want the Pornopolis to be perceived as an opportunity to have a real reflexion on what could the other side of the mirror be like, how deep the rabbit hole could be… It synthesized in some way the imaginary of these many tales in which a secret parallel existence lies beneath the surface of our metropolises.
Expressing the need of more sensual and sexual cities, in order to decomplex and cool down the tensions relating to sex and intimacy in our urban relationships was not an easy thing being a woman. I went through a lot of remarks, but it helped me shape my statement and build strong arguments. Actually people were extremely uncomfortable with the fact that someone could bring this subject as a Manifesto in terms of architecture, space and design, especially for a Graduate Project.
It is important to me to precise that I still find this work unfinished, theoretically and graphically speaking.
What does the word Manifesto represent for you?
The word Manifesto represents to me strength and commitment in the transmission of a specific cause or idea, but is also related to the notions of utopia and dystopia. In this case, a Manifesto is a condensed form of social and philosophical ideas related to human condition. Beyond any sort of claims or propaganda, a Manifesto is thought and written to inspire people and allow them to embrace an alternative vision of what they could have on specific feelings touching notions such as society, art, politics, philosophy… To me, the term Manifesto is intrinsically related to humanism.
According to the definition of the word Manifesto I express, it would be extremely presumptuous to think that PORNOPOLIS. Manifesto for an erotic city. could have a significant influence on other people whatsoever -but I still hope that it’ll get to the heart the ones who’ll cross its path.
What defined the choice of graphic language – how does it relate to the notion of erotic?
When I started the project, I didn’t really know where I was going in terms of graphic design. I’ve constituted few references to which I wanted to tend and I first produced a bunch of images which were fine but a bit caricatural -the exact effect I wanted to avoid at all cost. Finally, I mixed up all the styles, moods, feelings and notions which represent erotocism to me. It came up to be a very heterogeneous production, with explicit and saturated contents but also a great dose of softness and poetry. I relates to the notion of erotic in the fact that the graphic language used (colorful, saturated, contrasted, heterogeneous) pictures a large panel of shapes, textures and colors, just like human tastes in terms of sex. Erotic isn’t to me an unilateral notion but a mosaic of all sensual tastes in terms of sexuality, identity and confidence regarding bodies and nudity. The main point of these images was to support the Pornopolis Manifesto and to make something vibrating in the people, calling their deeper instincts.
What dictated the choice of views- what were your main objectives when framing these?
There’s I think a strong contrast between the language of the plans and the language shown in the perspectives. I wanted the plans and sections to be graphically consistent with the rest of my work, but I also wanted them to have the cold, rational and precise language of old encyclopedic drawings. When I framed the views I thought I could balance this impression of rationality with close and intimate views. I want for example to show what a brothel could look like without caricaturing it, but keeping in mind that this project was all about fantasy, imagination and empowering the sensation of excitation we could get facing the unknown and the hidden. More generally speaking, I always look further to find the very right way to express an idea : a frontal view ? Or a close zoom that will make people uncomfortable about what they see ?
Clemetine graduated in September 2016 from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Strasbourg, France. She is currently working as a freelance architect on several small public projects (a contemporary art gallery & workshop and a barber shop), all dealing with the question of minimalism (as simplicity) and honesty within their relationship with the material used. To her, the place must fade before the use and stay as flexible as possible. CLemetine is particularly interested in the impact of architects on the habitats of people. Within the next coming years, she would like to work in the fields of architecture, design and graphic design in Vietnam or Canada.