“Eaten or rotten I am all mouth”
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Marxism holds that changes happens via a process called dialectical materialism–wherein a market, a concept or a phase of evolution (the thesis) clashes with an opposing force (antithesis) to create something new from parts of both (synthesis).
It’s an appealing framework as it divides everything in the world into opposing factions, this vs. that, either/or. (Bakunin was effectively a century ahead of his time, in recognizing the missteps in Lenin’s implementation of Marx’s ideas.)
A truly ridiculous number of things lend themselves to fitting this form: the scientific process, three act narrative structure, how everyone is taught to format an academic essay in fifth grade…
I’ve always thought that if one could introduce a third factor (a wild card) that one might be able to salvage the framework–or at least get it to chart more usable results.
As someone who knows a bit about work being made on the fringes or art and pornography, there’s a very dialectical approach to things. On one side, there’s folks attempting to make more inclusive, realistic and or contemplative pornography (thesis=pornography, Antithesis=subverting problematic porn tropes); on the other, there are efforts to apply rigorous technical acumen to the production of pornography in an effort to increase the quality of the work (thesis=pornography; antithesis=superior production value).
Four Chambers doesn’t fit comfortably in either cubbyhole. Yes, they are definitely subverting problematic porn tropes. Yes, they continue to release material that is of the highest quality w/r/t production values. But, it feels more like they view pornography as another potential subject for consideration under the aegis of artistic practice.
If you’ve followed this project for any time, you know I agree with this notion wholeheartedly.
Now–full disclosure–I’ve yet to watch one of their complete scenes, only promo clips and materials they’ve released. But that in itself is instructive. Whether you’re challenging porn conventions or working to achieve higher quality material, both processes are undertaken in service of a final, ostensibly marketable product.
I won’t say Four Chambers’ work is made with no regard for the final product–that would be foolish and absurd. However, the product is not only intrinsically tied into the process–their promo materials are always so assiduously assembled. I mean they could just as easily throw an edit together and then release that trailer into the wild. They don’t do that, however. They take their time, adhere to a cohesive aesthetic/visual styling reavealing as much as concealing–building interest, but also trusting the interest commitment to their process allows them. Further, the profits from the product go back into making more and better content. In other words, it’s not about stacking Heisenberg levels of cash in a storage unit, it’s about continuing to pursue the process so that it can refine over time and evolve. (And what does that smack of, except the artists obsession with perfect?)
Honestly, though it’s their print materials like the above that really knock my socks off.
Also, bonus tidbit: the title of the above images is a line from a Sylvia Plath poem Who.