Pornagraphic Art vs Artistic Porn

Discussion in 'Portraits and Fashion' started by jkantor, Aug 22, 2002.

  1. Nerve (www.nerve.com) has another photo layout of pseudo-artistic
    porn a la Terry Richardson.

    I find it ironic that true porn is often so much better done
    technically. Take a look at www.bluenudes.com for instance for
    something relatively tame - but even the hardcore sites wouldn't
    publish something like Nerve's layout.
     
  2. I haven't seen the article you're referencing, but I've noticed a lot of art school contamination of the commercial aesthetic. Much of the portraiture in Interview and Spin etc. is so bad technically, all I can do is hope it's on purpose. The new post-postmodern anti-art photography. Like we just caught up to where music was 20 years ago. The visual equivalent of the Sex Pistols but commercially and narcissitically motivated. Which means it's lost any legitimacy as art, unlike John and Sid... t
     
  3. I agree. Really there's a lot of crap out there. I think, in addition to the reasons mentioned, the reason you see a lot of poorly done nude art is because since it's not porn, more people are ok with doing it. And so more people experiment with it. I know that if I were shooting nudes, nobody would see them unless I thought they were technically good enough for myself. I have the feeling that people thing the photo will be accepted simply because it tackles something people are still uncomfortable about and that is the naked body. But if it sucks technically, then it sucks. There's little that can save it from that.
     
  4. Is there a question in there somewhere?
    Anyway, what's your definition of "porn"? I went to the site you mentioned - Bluenudes - but it's a pay site so I couldn't tell anything about it, except that it doesn't seem to be what I would call "porn" - it looks like just nudes.
    Nerve publishes all kinds of stuff, some good, some bad, lots of nudes and a bit of porn. My definition of "pornography" (which literally means "the writings of prostitutes") is depictions of the sexual act. Nudity, per se, is not pornography, and images that are merely designed to be sexually arousing I would call "erotica".
    The broad answer to your question is: Sturgeon's Law.
     
  5. Erotica? Porn? Do you clear your browser's cache and history when you're done or not!?

    Well. They she did mention a certain lack of perfection in the blurb, or the recapitulated artist's statement. But yeah, me, I would definately light better (and shoot different, and get slapped for shooting girls in their undies...). But this looks like the kind of Art where the statement really comes in handy ;-). Looks like they just shot w/ a single ringlight. The most interesting thing there was the close crop of the ashtray on the stomach on the front page

    As for bluenudes, eh. Everything but my wife has been boring lately. I used to get more excited by www.domai.com, but last time I really said Yow! was looking at kevin hundsnucher's or james mogul's stuff on photo.net
     
  6. I don't care what "pornography" was literally was derived from... It's not about sex. It's about control, just like rape. Actors in porn images are doin' it for you the viewer, whether by force or for pay (the writings of prostitutes? maybe there's prostitution on both sides of the camera).
    There is plenty of erotic imagery and writing that is more accessible from alternate points of view. In this sort of work, people are doin' it because they like it, and would be acting that way whether anyone was watching or not. Hence there are no awkward poses (that aren't functional in some way), fewer props, less playing to the camera, and faces are concealed. It's not about specific individuals, but rather about an experience. The bodies become symbols and archetypes, the actions become fantasies and metaphors. This allows the viewer to become a participant rather than an audience. Erotic, yeah... t
     
  7. Oo. Good point tom.
     
  8. So voyeurism is the only true erotica?
     
  9. Given the current state of western culture and it's oh so popular media blitz, I have to ask, did all of you just fall off a turnip truck?
     
  10. I till haven't gotten a response from John about his definition of pornography. I've suggested "depictions of the sexual act" as a starting point.
    Meanwhile I had an interesting conversation with a model yesterday. I hired her to do some conventional figure and glamour work. This is a woman I've worked with before and she also does lots of modeling for bondage websites and magazines. One of the things I've noticed about such photos is how photographically uninspired they are. People who are into bondage take a great interest in the ropework and the conventions and traditions of fetish wear and scenes, but most of the photos I've seen (I'll admit I'm no expert) look like they were taken with a point-and-shoot! So we were discussing the idea of doing a fetish shoot, but using carefully prepared and designed studio lighting and composition.
    This made me wonder if pornography would be more interesting if the photography were better.
     
  11. First I don't use the term to describe a product - but a use. If you masturbate to the Sears catalog lingerie section or National Geographic then they are pornography for the moment. If you read National Geographic for information then it's photojournalism. And if you frame a cover and put it on the wall, it's art. Erotica, pornography, photojournalism, sociology, fashion - it's all in how you make use of it.

    You have to be doubly careful about declaring photos which (appear to) show people actually "enjoying" sexual situations as being more true in some way. First, even if the photos aren't staged, unless the subjects are truly unaware of being photographed (which isn't likely - or likely to be legal) then you are really looking at a photo essay on exhibitionism rather than voyeurism.

    And in a broader context if you do decree that the mindset of the subject is the most important factor in a photo, then you are declaring that photojournalism is the only true art form. (Actually, even that probably pales besides autobiography.)

    My question is why is it that people enjoying their sexuality (or feigning that enjoyment) can't also be well-lighted at the same time?
     
  12. My(albeit flawed) rule is:

    If I do it, IT IS ART

    If you do it it; it is not.

    Most of you are not even close to understanding. If you do, You are beyond me.
     
  13. Since I got my sex and girlie education on the streets, like most kids back when, thanks for helping me keep up with trends and fashions. (If I say something uncomplimentary about tying people up with ropes that will make me what, conservative,but its a variant that never got me interested) I learned half hitches and the like and splices in the Navy and it probably ruined it all:)) . We use to call some erotica "kinky." Does the word still have an application. That domai place looks sorta interesting. Sort of old fashioned tame but enticing. I guess we are into a counterevolution, and here I am ten paces behind as always. Keep me posted,thanks,John et al, and aloha. Gerry
     
  14. "I don't know what the pornography of pornography is, and nobody else does either. Pornography is someone else's erotica that you don't like." -- Erica Jong.
     
  15. I recall seeing some photos by Terry Richardson in a semi-recent copy of Photo, but it kind of summed up everything I've grown to dislike about PHOTO these past few years. I realize it's a phenomenally subjective thing, but I found it all pretty frigthfully banal. (Of course, I really like Andy Warhol, and he's probably the King of Banal, but the ideas beneath the surface redeem (and justify or necessitate) the intentional blandness of it all to begin with.) Most of the stuff I saw by Richardson just turned me off (not a moral claim, simply an aesthetic one -- trying to peek beneath the surface, but suspicious there wasn't much more there than some damaging, bleating nerve endings and too-raw erotic impulse for me. Sex as a theme, removed from anything more human beyond it, bores me.)

    The first thing I thought when I saw his stuff was "United Color of Bennetton". It's not a compliment, since I hate pretty much everything about the empty commercialism about their ridiculously bland and banal, see-through little multi-coloured world. (Sorry if that sounds frightfully haughty. I don't claim to be much higher, but I'm really turned off by that kind of superficiality.) Porn is porn ... I could care less about it, and I'd say the annual Republican Convention poses more dangerous to your moral and physical health, but, as a theme, I guess I'm just plain bored with it.
     
  16. My question is why is it that people enjoying their sexuality (or feigning that enjoyment) can't also be well-lighted at the same time?

    I suspect they're looking for an aesthetic similar to the motif. they want something hard and edgy, and so their place it in an aesthetic that's hard and edgy as well, no? David Hamilton works well in keeping his 'soft humanism' framed in very 'soft' settings and surroundings/focus, etc. The technical strength of Robert Mapplethorpe works very well for his theme, since the pictures are all immaculatly sharp/crisp/focused/developed, etc., and it brings out the 'strong', 'dominant' theme in the work admirably well, even if you might not like the theme itself. It's probably just a case of molding the means to the end, no?

    Kevin. PS: Terribly sorry for the incoherent grammar above. My English usually isn't that bad. ;-)
     
  17. Ack ... it should have read:

    "I don't know what the DEFINITION of pornography is" ... (the quote by Erica Jong above). It's the best I've ever been able to do when pressed to provide a definition of it, and I'm suspicious of anyone who claims to be able to do much better. It's just not something you can ever enduringly (or broadly) define, except to wrap it around with very fluid and dynamic walls of shifting cultural norms. ("'Pornography [is a] repository of multiple meanings with constantly shifting boundaries" wrote Feminist author Paula Findlen). Bill Thompson wisely write that: "Pornography's dictionary definition, much beloved by the ignorant, bears no relationship to its content, /and it never did/." Just some thoughts. (I'll re-read these ones before I post them. ;)
     
  18. Well, it seems technically sharp commercial porn and product photography have a few things in common. Good equipment, assistants (food stylists, oil boys) a photographer working in their 'groove', and a few prevailing aesthetics driving the style (silicone & specular hilites to show bumps bulges and curves, shifts, tilts and a wide open lens for martha), and maybe a lack of the conceptual artistic pretense that my wife calls 'trying too hard'. The matter of 'merchandise' is up to the producing and consuming parties involved, but don't forget the 'money shot'.

    You can see the driving aesthetics in other genres like 4 wheel or gun mags with shot after shot of hyperextended suspensions on jeeps at moab or guns in fog with light coming out the barrel, but it just looks like another flavor of porn- OOH 4" lift with a dana rear end! GIVE IT TO ME!.
     
  19. There is a term for the kind of 'artistic' work john asks about in hs original post. it is called "tarting up the product".
    Commercial porn may or not be be technically better -- in general it is overlit to the point of flatness with nothing left for the imagination to grasp, and everything is crisply in focus. But sheesh is it boring. Commercial porn sites don't publish what Nerve does for the same reason most Topless bars are not big into good architecture : it ain't what the majority of the clientele are there for. I'll bet there are more female reader/viewers of Nerve.com then there are of any of the big commercial sex si
     
  20. If it's artistic, it isn't porn. If it's porn it's not artistic.
     
  21. The line between art and porn grown thin at times. I’ve seen paintings at museums (specifically the fine art museum in Boston) that I would nearly catagorize as porn, and I’ve seen pictures on Photo.net that I call art. I believe that the difference is in the intent: is the subject being portrayed in such a way as to simply display the beauty of this body that God has created? Then I consider it to be art. But if the intent of the image is merely to arouse or, worse, to turn the subject into an object to be ogled at, cut off from any thought of her (or him) as a human being... That I consider to be porn.
    Just a side note: I find there to be ~no~ trace of art in so called “fetish” imagery, its sole purpose is to reduce the subject to the same level as (if not below that of) a still life or animal.
     
  22. If you look at porn pics on the net you will fast find out that there are examples that are tech-nically bad and others that are technically very good. The difference comes from better light-ing, better make up, higher quality lingerie, more attractive models and better posing. And the “good” ones look subjective less pornographic than the “bad” ones although they show the same pose or action. I did learn a lot for my erotic photography from looking at “bad “ porn pics, since mistakes concerning light, poses and perspective are very obvious there and easy to detect and interpret. Covert a “good” pic into B&W and it will again be less pornographic. If you look at two different photographs both showing a woman with spread legs, the “bad” one will lead your first glance to the genitals, the “good” one will lead your glance to the face or bodylines first until you recognize that the genitals are exposed. The one image is generally considered as pornographic, the other as erotic. If You play with light and shadow even a ex-plicit pose can show a sensual erotic. Sensuality of the model does also make the difference between porn and erotic. I prefer models who have brains because I think a certain amount of brain is essential to be sensual. The important thing, if you want to do the tightrope walk be-tween porn and erotic is not to overdo it. A very mini skirt plus a plunging neckline makes a hooker, but a very mini skirt with a turtleneck or a plunging neckline with a pair of jeans can make a desirable woman. This is why modern advertisement photography works, they never step over the line.
    Every woman wants to be incredible erotic but women seldom want to be pornographic.<p>
    I did some B&W photographs of women in very explicit poses and these are the images women, even my wife, like most. So somehow what I said above must work.<p>
    All the best<p>
    Oliver
     
  23. Have to admire efforts to divide porn into categories of quality. I just saw a movie on TV where the context of the nudity, including full frontal and copulation was in some way artistic ( Wide Sargasso Sea) in the context of the whole film. And I can separate it from the pure shlock porn which is incidentally technically poor. But in the bottom it seems to be a thing of artist intent and still subject matter ( bestiality no matter how lit will always be outside our Western standard of erotic or sexy for most people.) I know it when I see it still is the best most can do. "Slicing the salami" thinner and thinner is useful as a mental exercise,... and the province of courts at times.Aloha, GS
     
  24. Hmmmm. Interesting thread here. It got me thinking (a painful thing I try to do as little as possible <g>). It is occuring to me that living outside of western standards and language for as long as I have (10 years in Taiwan), some things...some words...have lost their meaning in my own view of things. Pornography? Hmmm, what is it? Here, there are at least a dozen shops in most small and mid sized cities selling VCDs of everything from young women prancing around in bikinis to...well, let your imaginations run wild. I think I've seen a dozen or so nude paintings in the last year, some stylized, some quite realistic. I don't recall seeing art nudes in the photographic world, some sort of art nudes in the local advertising copy. Its occuring to me that there is a distinction, the VCDs, ranging from women prancing in bikinis (which is also broadcast on 3 channels of cable) to things that'd probably (I hope) make your skin crawl are all considered "low class," yet they exist on every TV wired with cable. The paintings are considered "high class." Maybe this is the real distinction, I don't know. In a sense, the word "pornography" has lost its meaning to me. The nude to me is simply a form of expression, both in trying to show something inside the model and trying to show something inside myself.

    I dunno if this makes sense to anyone else, maybe my semi-seclusionary lifestyle has made a nut outta me ;-).
     
  25. Yes it makes good sense, and relates to my theory that abstraction changes the content from objective to subjective. The paintings are abstractions of the human form (therefore "art") and the dancing girls in bikinis are too real (objective, therefore "porn-ish") to be anything but videos of girls dancing in bikinis... until post-modernism, which then allows dancing girls in bikinis to be about your response to dancing girls in bikinis, and therefore subjective once more, which is another reason why I so distrust post-modernism. It allows for snickering at normal people and knowing winks by those who are in "the club". It's an intellectually slippery and highly bankable confidence game that destroys romance and encourages "legitimate" and highly skilled con/artists like Jeff Koons to talk their way into, or out of, anything, if their mark is "educated" but not that smart, and wants desperately to be "hip"... t
    Oh yeah, this abstraction thing is why guys who want to take pictures of naked girls, but are embarrassed about it, usually use Tri-x or shift the palette to non literal shades. And no, I'm not saying that every one who uses tri-x is a pornographer... t
     
  26. I think that is exactly the point - the high art/low art distinction between Art and Porn is becoming meaningless. The problem is that in the short term the pendulum has swung way too far. It's become popular to valorize what wouldn't even be considered mediocre porn as art just because it's been done by someone famous (e.g., Peter Gorman or Terry Richardson).
     

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