An Experimodern Coda To Human Sexuality


The conditioning effects of pornography and cinema leave their traces upon our work in ways which betray our very sexuality. The artistic impulse has much in common with the drives which lead serial killers to commit their atrocities – both being re-routed forms of sexual energy, driven by a psychosexual complex that pushes the artist/killer to unconsciously leave its mark on their work, compulsively, again and again. One can see the similarity when one if you swap the word “artist” for “killer” and “on the artwork” for “at the scene”, in this quote from Robert Keppel's book on serial killers, Signature Killers (1998):

The killer's personal expression takes the form of his unique signature, an imprint left by him at the scene, an imprint the killer is psychologically compelled to leave to satisfy himself sexually. In Ted Bundy's lingo, it's whatever the killer 'gets his rocks off on.' The core of a killer's imprint will never change. (Keppel, 1998, p. 5) only ever write one piece...

Keppel has found that serial killers often have a “signature” - a set of characteristics that they unconsciously embed in their actions “Like all addicts, signature killers work from a script, engaging in repetitive behaviour to the point of obsessiveness. Their calling cards at the crime scenes – how they choose their victims, mutilate or manipulate the bodies and dispose of bodies – all display similar types of pathological deviance and repeat themselves no matter how their method of operation changes.” (Keppel, 1998, p. 25) “These are the psychological calling cards the killer actually needs to leave at each scene. These constitute his signature and remain relatively constant from crime to crime, even when the killer deliberately changes his MO” (Keppel, 1998, p. 6) This signature is fundamentally different from modus operandi, as whilst an M.O. may change, “[a signature killer] always displays his psychological stamp at the crime scenes even though aspects of the crime he commits or the method he uses may change from crime scene to crime scene” (Keppel, 1998, p. 16).12

Just as the underlying psychosexual drive and construction of desire is unconsciously and unwillingly, but obsessively and compulsively, manifested in the crimes of the serial killer, so to do our own drives and desire violently force their way into our work. When our desire and our sexuality is being conditioned through outside forces (pornography and cinema), this will manifest itself in the artwork itself, which originates in these very drives.13

Cinema and pornography remove human agency. They do this by behaviourally conditioning our desire. We can choose what films we watch, but not how we desire.

12 Keppel even suggests that such “signature killers” may consider their crimes as artworks.:

“In fact, [signature killers] may already see their own murders as art, especially the killers who gratify themselves by posing their dead victims.

Was Stephen Pennell, at least in his own mind, creating an art form by posing a victim whom he'd defiled and mutilated? Did George Russell see himself as a kind of sculptor fashioning a message out of the corpses of Poehlreich, Beethe and Levine...Similarly, Jeffrey Dahmer's photographs of victims propped up as if they were still alive, yet horribly mutilated, was one stage of ritualistic expression...This is the real transgressive art, a killer who designs a scene with his victim's corpse, not in the stillness of repose, but as stasis, an action arrested in time, frozen in an instant by the exercise of the killer-as-artist's control.” (Keppel, 1998, p. 374)

13 Our psychology always manifests itself in our work. This paper (like much academic writing and artistic endeavour) might as well have been titled Look How Clever I Am You Fucking Cunts: Do You Love Me Now, Daddy?