introduction: Queer and Not Now
In Nguyen Tan Hoang’s video k.i.p. (2002), a young man faces a past
that may or may not be his. The video opens with a series of grainy,
flickering, blurry shots of body parts flashing across the screen; eventually
it’s clear that the scene shows two white men having sex. The men’s
shaggy haircuts and sideburns and the low-res quality of the video images
suggest that the period is the 1970s or early 1980s. For the full four-
minute duration of Nguyen’s piece the scene skips and stutters, with
dropouts, black frames, or smears of color occasionally interrupting the
action. The slight distortion of the images, occasional glare, and falling
static ‘‘snow’’ indicate that we are not seeing the scene directly but rather
through the curved glass front of an old-fashioned cathode ray tube tele-
vision. Reflected on the surface of the tv monitor floats the ghostlike face
of a young male—the director himself, as it turns out—expression blank,
glasses glinting a bit, mouth occasionally opening slightly, as if to eat, to
suck, to speak, or as if simply surprised (see figure 1).
k.i.p. explicitly connects experimental video’s temporal dissonance to
queer sexual dissidence: it links the malleability of filmic time to the
sexually experimental body. To be sure, it has any number of qualities that
are merely generic to experimental film and video. Eschewing the narra-
tive conventions of classical Hollywood cinema, this genre foregrounds
the medium’s status as a ‘‘time art’’ and emphasizes the constructedness of
its images, the materiality of the production process, and/or the histori-
cal contingency of its apparatus.∞
But Nguyen’s piece also speaks to mass-
popular ways of using filmic temporality to expand bodily possibilities,
and of using the body’s rhythms to reimagine what film can say and do.
The original porn tape’s intended audience of home video watchers, who
may or may not have been gay but were certainly participating in the
stigmatized sexual practice of viewing gay sex acts, had presumably got-
ten their pleasures from just the kind of remix that video technology it-
self enables. For they could zoom the tape backward to the money shot
as often as they wanted, witnessing multiple climaxes far beyond the
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