Meet the artist giv­ing new life to porn of the past with his iconic em­broi­dery tech­niques.

Gay Times Magazine - - Scott Ramsay Kyle - Art­work Scott Ram­say Kyle Words Ryan Cahill

If you were a gay man grow­ing up in the 70s and 80s, you prob­a­bly had a porn col­lec­tion. Re­gard­less of how big or small it was, it’s likely you had a cou­ple of is­sues of Zip­per or BUTT stashed away un­der your bed, far from the pry­ing eyes of your in­quis­i­tive par­ents. At least this was the case for Scot­tish-born de­signer Scott Ram­say Kyle, who amassed his porn col­lec­tion by ei­ther steal­ing them from newsagents or buy­ing them over the course of his youth. Th­ese days, he’s util­is­ing them for art pur­poses, unit­ing them with his em­broi­dery tech­nique to ei­ther omit or em­pha­sise el­e­ments of the mas­cu­line form, whether it’s a gi­ant phal­lus or the toned torso of a 70s porn star.

Orig­i­nally a fash­ion de­signer him­self, he’s most re­cently caught the eye of Delhi-born de­signer, Ashish, who has tapped him for an up­com­ing t-shirt col­lab as part of his Taint col­lec­tion. I meet the artist at his East Lon­don stu­dio, where the walls are laced with vis­ual ref­er­ences of gi­ant cocks and gay porn, to talk the evo­lu­tion of his sig­na­ture stitch work.

You sew onto vin­tage porn. Tell me how this project came about. This project came about af­ter see­ing the nee­dle as a pe­nis. I saw the link of pen­e­tra­tion, in this case pen­e­trat­ing into things like pa­per or tex­tures or fab­rics. I was think­ing that the ac­tion of mas­tur­ba­tion was like stitch, a sim­i­lar kind of up and down, repet­i­tive ac­tion, with the back con­torted, it feels good be­cause you’re mak­ing progress and then when you fin­ish the money shot is all over the page, beau­ti­ful splashes of em­broi­dery, and then you want to do it again!

How do peo­ple re­act to your work? I think peo­ple were quite shocked a few years ago but they see it now as sort of a beau­ti­ful per­sonal thing, so it’s

maybe not as risqué. I know there’s a big mas­sive cock em­bel­lished but be­cause it’s got tech­nique to it and it’s got a sense of colour and com­po­si­tion, it’s even more de­sir­able.

Do you think there’s still kind of a stigma around sex­u­al­ity and sex? Well, I do struˆle with cen­sor­ship on In­sta­gram, how­ever more broadly speak­ing, I think there’s a dif­fer­ent cul­ture that’s taken over now, like the Kim Kar­dashian celebrity, con­tour­ing, and per­fect pouty selfie. I think that’s so much more con­tro­ver­sial than the porn in­dus­try to­day be­cause although it is pretty de­press­ing see­ing porn stars and imag­in­ing the trou­ble that they might have got­ten into, it’s also quite de­press­ing that 17 year old girls are ca­su­ally hav­ing facelifts, im­plants and Bo­tox, I think that’s equally a mod­ern day prob­lem now, it’s dan­ger­ous.

Is it com­plex to work on pa­per? I’ve al­ways worked on pa­per, even pre-gay vi­su­als vibe, but I think my style of stitch suits a stronger base like a thick card. There is a level of pri­vate com­plex­ity which isn’t rarely no­ticed, for ex­am­ple I like go­ing be­tween hard and soft pa­pers weights that matches the “hard­ness” of its con­tent. Although the idea of sew­ing is about be­ing poised and calm and pro­cess­ing, I think my move­ment of stitch work is cre­ated with aˆressive ten­sion, but there’s a sort of flow of di­rec­tion and painterly style to it.

Where do your source your porn im­agery from? The gay porn stuff is from a big se­lec­tion of my own mag­a­zines that I had when I was a kid, I fre­quently use porn­stars who I’ve had a sort of pseudo-ro­mance with (one sided!). I think I would have nicked a cou­ple from the newsagents or bought some over the years. It’s re­ally ex­cit­ing to buy that when you’re like 15 and not quite out

in Glas­gow and then when I moved to Lon­don, I had this big bag that I didn’t want to leave in my dad’s house so it’s kind of fol­lowed me around Lon­don, but I’ve never re­ally looked at them as they were outdated and now with an ac­tive sex life the 3D re­al­ity is more stim­u­lat­ing than the 2D printed mat­ter.

Why do you choose to use dated pornog­ra­phy rather than mod­ern day? I think the qual­ity of the non-dig­i­tal film based vis­ual is richer, it has a hap­tic grainy qual­ity and the colours seem more in­fused with nos­tal­gia. I guess it looks more ro­man­ti­cised. And what are the key dif­fer­ences that you see in this old fash­ioned porn com­pared to to­day? I don’t know be­cause I don’t re­ally look at porn I mean on oc­ca­sion I watch porn on-screen, but I wouldn’t re­ally buy a porn mag­a­zine. I guess the clothes and fash­ion the ac­tors wear is a funny com­par­i­son from ‘then and now,’ for ex­am­ple you won’t find so many brown polyester flaired suits in to­days clus­ter­fuck­ery. In-fact that is maybe a new project, thanks for that!

I guess there’s not re­ally a mar­ket for it any­more! I think it’s be­cause peo­ple are so used to ex­pos­ing them­selves now, you can jump on any gay app and they will lit­er­ally bom­bard you with per­fect bod­ies, odd shaped bod­ies, funny pro­por­tions, stream­ing cocks, click­able ar­ses, so I think the next gen­er­a­tion com­ing up are so much more re­sis­tant to it and they’re not shocked by it and they’re more open I guess.

Do you think there’s a fine line be­tween your work be­ing art and porn? I think it’s more art than porn, I don’t think you can see it as porn. Porn is a stim­u­lus, the mo­ment it came from but then it’s taken through the process of my sub­jec­tive hand, which I make into a beau­ti­ful nar­ra­tive and el­e­vated thing. I’m not re­ally a cham­pion of the porn in­dus­try, but I’d like to think of my­self as a cham­pion of hand em­broi­dery and collage. I think it’s that I’m con­tra­dict­ing things; there is craft and tech­nique which could be seen as quite mumsy. I don’t like that gen­dered word but it could be seen as that, but then it’s rammed to­gether with a huge cock and balls. It’s this mo­ment in-be­tween that I like peo­ple ques­tion­ing. It’s for them to de­cide if they think it’s porny and bad taste or if they are ex­cited and see it as ro­man­tic.

Does your stitch­ing re­late to your de­sign work? Most of my fash­ion projects, they have been tex­tile-led, and this kind of cer­tain stitch / ap­plique

tech­nique has al­ways fol­lowed through within my cre­ative out­put. I think my work has a lin­ear form and each piece I make is a con­tin­u­a­tion of the work. When I ar­range dif­fer­ent me­dia on the page, I’m look­ing for some­thing which clicks, which is re­lated to prob­lem solv­ing in de­sign. I love the works of Sol LeWitt for ex­am­ple; process driven ex­cept in my case it is done by my own hand.

Which do you en­joy more? I think def­i­nitely work­ing 2D is more fun, I’m a maker so I like work­ing with my hands, I’m happy to make any­thing re­ally as long as I can be busy with hands. I think the idea of stitch­ing; it kind of brings your men­tal health and your psy­che to calm, it def­i­nitely has a med­i­ta­tive qual­ity. You’re about to col­lab­o­rate with the de­signer Ashish on his Taint t-shirt col­lec­tion. How did that come about? Ashish bought some of my collage work a cou­ple of years ago for his per­sonal art col­lec­tion, he’s done that a cou­ple of times. Then we be­came friends!

How do you en­vis­age your col­lab­o­ra­tion will look? We’ve ac­tu­ally al­ready fin­ished the col­lec­tion. They’re not prop­erly launched as yet but very soon. There’s long sleeve and short sleeve and they’re all photo-collage, so my collage work and then with dif­fer­ent in­serts, flesh, limbs, text, flo­rals, some jew­els, they are full scale and dec­o­ra­tive, they look great.

Fi­nally, tell me about your zines. I’ve made two zines re­cently, partly to add dif­fer­ent el­e­ments in my on­line shop. HOMMEX, which is like a satir­i­cal fash­ion body zine. It’s ba­si­cally like tak­ing the most ridicu­lous pornog­ra­phy and then build­ing lay­ers of gar­ments and de­tails on to the page and then de­scrib­ing it in a re­ally bor­ing way. So there’s a guy with his dick out and socks on which is like raunchy, but then it has re­ally bor­ing in-depth de­scrip­tions of socks and de­tails so it’s meant to be a piss take. And then I’ve got a se­cond zine which is a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween two artists Me­lanie Coles and Michael Crowe called OB­SES­SIONS which we launched at ASP3, the Artist Self-Pub­lish­ing Fair at ICA in sum­mer. Is­sue 2 comes out be­fore Christ­mas and will be avail­able to buy at the ICA book­shop and then con­se­quently in New York. Both zines and my art­work are also avail­able to buy on my web­site shop.

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