Stoya reading 'Necrophilia Vibrations.'

A different kind of art: Hysterical Literature

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Thursday, 2 October 2014 - Last Updated on October 2, 2014
Stoya reading 'Necrophilia Vibrations.'
Stoya reading 'Necrophilia Variations.'

Stoya reading ‘Necrophilia Variations.’

If you want a feast for your eyes, you can go to a gallery for breathtaking pictures, or a museum for visual arts. But if you want something different, then there’s hysterical literature on the web.

Hysterical literature is a visual series made by photographer Clayton Cubitt. It is an installment of videos in his site where women not only read erotic literature but also feel something DOWN THERE…up to the point of orgasm!

Leveled-up storytelling

The videos, which are shot in black and white, feature women reading excerpts from a favorite book of theirs while sitting in front of a table. They first say their name and the title of the book they are about to read. In the first few minutes, it seems like the woman is just doing an ordinary storytelling. The viewer then focuses on what she’s reading from the book. After 2-3 minutes, the subject slows down. Her breathing starts to become heavier, perhaps making the viewer think she is merely internalizing the literature. But as the minutes progress, the reader’s voice and hands start shaking and her body starts twitching. She tries to regain her focus and continues reading. The viewer then rethinks what could be going on.

If you are observant, then you will notice that there is a buzzing sound heard in the video and if your imagination will go wild, you will then figure out that something is tickling the reader under the table. Something erotic…like a vibrator.

Upon the changes of the reader’s demeanor, viewers will then shift their attention on what is happening to the reader and if she will be able to finish reading the material while feeling so sensual. It is entertaining at the same time funny as you see the reader trying to regain her focus but in the end, lets her body take over. After an orgasmic moan, she will then say her name again and the title of literature she has just read with a naughty smile on her face.

Real uncensored portraits

The concept is considered an art for its creator Clayton Cubitt. He used the title “Hysterical Literature” coming from the medical theory in the Victorian times about curing the ‘hysteria’ of women through vibrators and hydrotherapy treatments. He came up with the idea because of his fascination with the concept of control and authenticity in making portraits especially now in the advent of social media like Facebook and Instagram where selfies and personal branding has become popular.

He believes that people taking selfies are not really completely showing who they are in their portraits. He wanted to come up with a way where portraits are raw and cannot be controlled by the subjects’ mind anymore, hence the use of a vibrator.

He started experimenting with doing still portraits he called ‘Long Portraits’ where he made his subjects look at the camera for a long time as he filmed them. He took a series of pictures of the subject trying to maintain eye contact with the camera while she is being tickled with a vibrator. He did this because he believes that when sexual feelings are released, his subjects become real and he is able to capture their authenticity on camera. His series then progressed into producing short films that became ‘Hysterical Literature’.

Cubitt explained his fascination with the subject in an interview, “On an individual level, I’m interested in the battle the sitter experiences between mind and body, and how long one retains primacy over the other, and when they reach balance, and when they switch control,” he said.

At the same time he wanted to see how far viewers would accept obscenity in social media. His videos are not obscene, its very clean and it is merely storytelling when you view it. Obscenity is what goes under the table, which it is not shown in the video thus making viewers imagine their subject of objectification with no limits.

“I sat the readers at a table,” Cubitt said, “and I showed what society wants to see on top of the table, and I hid the sex under the table. I wanted to see what people would react to more: what they could see, or what they imagined.” In another interview he said his other intention. “On a larger scale, I’m interested in how society draws a line between high and low art, between acceptable topics of discussions and taboo ones, between what can be worshipped and what must be hidden,” Cubitt said.

Mixed reactions

Since it debuted in 2012, Cubitt’s ‘Hysterical Literature’ has gained almost 13.5 million views to date. It has gained 57,016 likes but at the same time, there were 2,162 that disliked it. Cubitt is not bothered. For him, as long as there is an intense reaction to his series, may it be liking it so much or hating it, what matters is people are reacting to his work. “I’m not personally opposed to anyone’s reaction to my work, as long as they react,” he said.

Despite criticisms, feminists and erotic writers applauded the series. Supervert, the writer of “Necrophilia Variations”, the first literature read in the first video praised Cubitt’s work. The concept is pure genius, a demented equivalent of the experiments sex researchers undertake in MRI laboratories as they scan the brain at the moment of orgasm,” Supervert said in his blog. He felt honored that his book was the first read literature in the series and that they were able to elevate erotica into another level.

“Cubitt’s aesthetic and Stoya’s performance are what make “Hysterical Literature” stand on its own as video art, but what thrills the silent partner in the ménage is to see how their experiment extends the spirit of the book. They take an impulse from the text, translate it into another medium, and beam it into the world anew. Bravo,” he said.

The series is still a continuing project and the site has nine sessions to date featuring nine different women and literature. Cubitt said that many women are curious and are volunteering to do a session with him. He said that he is open and wants more colored women and older women to join his series. He is also considering readers from the LGBT community.

*Stills courtesy of YouTube. 

Tanya Jamon-Navarro (45 Posts)

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