The Power and the Glory, Part II (see last May for Part I)

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by landrum_kelly, Apr 20, 2010.

  1. Why does the photographic nude vary so greatly in its impact on us? More specifically, why do some nudes appear more naked than others?
    As stated, the question is wide open to all kinds of interpretations and possible answers. That is fine with me, since I am about to start giving exams next week and do not expect to have time to contribute very much. I hope that the topic sustains itself and that the thread prospers sufficiently to provoke some new insights from other contributors.
    Even so, I include here a few remarks of my own about one photo by Jim Phelps to show a bit of what I am getting at.
    _________________________
    "Jim, as you know by now, there are those who always want to claim that the enjoyment of the nude is driven entirely by sexual desire, repressed or otherwise, but the fact is that your photos always give me food for thought, and so it is that, though I might be attracted at first by the pure power of the image, I can then sit for a long, long time and analyze why I respond to this or that nude differently--and I do not have to be viewing the nude(s) at the time in order to be able to do so.
    "Therefore I think that those who think that nude photography is about sex and nothing else are well wide of the mark--although perhaps again subliminal sexual motives do enter again in determining which intellectual issues we find to be most fascinating. Therefore I should have to be the first to confess that both nudity (female in my case) and sexuality do fascinate me--but I resist the notion that sexual fascination is the only factor operating when we find ourselves perplexed by the "power and glory" of the nude.
    "In any case, as I said, the nude does not only entertain or titillate. Nudes (or at least some nude photos) also can and do make us think--some more than others. This one does make me think.
    "The issue raised here, which I am going to transfer to the Philosophy of Photography forum as I did last May and June on a related topic (the public nude) is why some nudes appear more naked than others. Robert Graves' poem about "The Naked and the Nude" has addressed that issue, or at least forced us to think about the distinction.
    "This photo does the same for me--it has made me think. I am a bit perplexed. This model shows no nipples, buttocks, pubic hair, or genitalia, and yet the overall effect is indeed one of nakedness, not mere nudity. This is admittedly a subjective assessment, and others might disagree, but at least in my case she seems terribly vulnerable in spite of showing less than what one might see at the beach--and in spite of her look of total insouciance.
    "Well, of course she is naked and that is the end of that, some might say, but the sense of naked vulnerability seen here surprises me, given how little she shows of the traditionally emphasized erogenous zones. I might venture to add here that many nudes qua nudes can have a sense of invulnerability, by comparison. Even so, whether it is a matter of vulnerability v. invulnerability, or something else, I continue to be surprised by how images strike us in terms of their level of what I can only call not only vulnerability but also decency or indecency, in accordance with standard usage--not because decency or indecency ever inhere in the body itself, or in its representation.
    "In any case, since you are one who has worked with nudes, I would be interested in what you have to say. I would also like to link to this photo on the Philosophy of Photography Forum so that others might have a go at this or related issues.
    "I can only hope that I will not be subjected again to ad hominem remarks, as I was by a few commentators on last years "The Power and the Glory" thread on the Philosophy of Photography forum--and I am thinking of those who chuckled that it was all about sex and nothing more, and that that was the end of that. I will nonetheless take the risk of such because I believe that these are good theoretical issues that ought to be addressed--and because I believe that there might be some new insight to be gained by throwing these issues back into the public intellectual arena of that forum.
    "Thanks again for your generosity in allowing us to comment on your photos in "The Power and the Glory" thread last year on the Philosophy of Photography forum. You have given us a lot to think about, which is not to deny that these images are very pleasing to look at as well."
    The photo alluded to above is by Jim Phelps at the following address: http://www.photo.net/photo/8937273&size=md
    Thanks to all in advance for responding. I hope that the thread will be deemed to have been worthwhile, when all is said and done.
    --Lannie
     
  2. Possibly along the same lines, here is the famous painting by Manet which shows the model/subject looking at the painter, which draws the painter more obviously into the photo.
    In addition, there is some tension introduced here by the fact that the men are dressed and the woman is undressed, as well as by the fact that the position in which she is sitting would not be one designed to preserve her modesty. Indeed, it is her very indifference to the men, to the painter, and to the position of her legs (not obvious on this small version) which perhaps made the image scandalous to many persons: "How could she be so casually naked?! She is far beyond being merely nude!"
    In any case, my original thoughts about vulnerability need to be re-examined.
    Anyone have any thoughts?
    --Lannie
     
  3. Manet's "Olympia" likewise shows the model/subject looking straight at the painter, which probably contributed to its shock value in the culture of its day.

    A better articulation of the question by other contributors would be appreciated. As some of us in philosophy like to say, "Don't expect us to get the answers right. We do well to get the questions right!"

    So, if the thread morphs and the question changes, so be it. In a philosophical thread, how could it be otherwise?

    Here is how I originally framed the question at the outset:

    "Why does the photographic nude vary so greatly in its impact on us? More specifically, why do some nudes appear more naked than others?"

    Well, if the question changes, then it changes. Rewriting the questions to fit our answers is how a lot of us got through graduate school.

    --Lannie
     
  4. Rebecca (the model) is not a submissive being, and I would be shocked if she would adapt to submissive standards and not be seen by looking away. I think those who have issues with women looking at the lens when they are nude quite possibly don't want the models eyes upon them while they see them in a state of undress. Why would it be more acceptable for her to look away? I find no sense in this theory.
     
  5. I find no sense in this theory.​
    What theory? Could you be a bit more precise for me. I am fairly dense.
    --Lannie
     
  6. I wonder how many would seriously say nudes are ONLY about sex and titillation? And how many fool themselves into thinking it's not about sex at all? People are often not up front or in tune when it comes to sex and nudity.
    If nudes are not so much about sexuality, why do most men photograph mostly female nude subjects?
    I am often in part motivated by sexuality and titillation and not just when I photograph nudes! That sexuality may or may not translate literally into the photograph. Sexuality and libido are strong drives in many human endeavors. Sexuality can be very involved even in my non-nudes.
    It would RARELY IF EVER be the case that one and only one factor (e.g., titillation, sexuality) is at play in the motivation for or reaction to a photo. Most of us are more complex than that.
    The body is expressive. Nudity can expose. It can break down barriers. It can also increase discomfort. It can bring out vulnerability. It can bring out confidence. It is multi-faceted, not singular. The exposure nudity affords can yield genuineness. It can also be a total fake and pretense. Nudes can be beautified and they can be gritty. Each can be effective.
     
  7. I fully agree with you, Fred, but, if you will recall the original "The Power and the Glory" of last May and June on this forum, several commentators made precisely that claim--and were apparently quite serious about it. Those contributors would (I presume) have recommended that we not analyze nude photography/painting at all, which would be quite silly.
    --Lannie
     
  8. I fully agree with you, Fred, but, if you will recall the original "The Power and the Glory" of last May and June on this forum, several commentators made precisely that claim--and were apparently quite serious about it. Those contributors would (I presume) have recommended that we not analyze nude photography/painting at all, which would be quite silly.
    --Lannie
     
  9. I take those commentators you refer to with a grain of salt and don't think they represent anything but a tiny few. Some like to come to the Philosophy forum and tell us not to analyze stuff. It usually doesn't have much sway. In any case, I tried to address other issues in my post that are of value.
     
  10. @Fred ~ why do most female photographers also photograph female models then? they can't all be lesbians, i know i'm not. just wondering what you might think about that.
     
  11. Zoe, good question. Maybe photographing the female nude has become the more traditional thing to do, though the Greeks certainly weren't shy about portraying male nudity. I wonder if it has to do with more men (at least non-ancient men) being less inclined to put themselves into a position of posing nude, objectifying themselves. Could there be something passive to posing nude that men shy away from? Not sure. But I imagine it has something to do with culturally defined gender and sexual roles.
    Some will say it's because the female form is more inherently sensual. It's something I'm willing to consider but not something I'm convinced of.
    Maybe guys are hornier. Again, check out the PN nudes section . . . much horniness in evidence . . . not that much art.
     
  12. I was not trying to be flippant, Zoe. I assumed that many female photographers photograph female nudes because of the greater market for them, as opposed to male nudes.
    --Lannie
     
  13. I was not trying to be flippant, Zoe. I assumed that many female photographers photograph female nudes because of the greater market for them, as opposed to male nudes.
    --Lannie
     
  14. I have been on PN for many years and never double-posted. Now I have done it twice within a few minutes? What am I doing wrong? Is it a machine error?
     
  15. @Lannie What market? There's no market for figure photography in the United States at least. So, that's not a good analogy either.
    Why do you think women would be photographing other women? Think.
     
  16. Here is one by Francois B that is quite explicit but is somehow more modest than the one by Jim Phelps, in my opinion. I am back to my original question now: why does the subject in Phelps photo, which shows so little, seem more naked (at least to me) than the one in the Francois B shot, which shows pretty much everything?
    --Lannie
     
  17. Why do you think women would be photographing other women? Think.​
    Zoe, maybe the curved lines are inherently better or more interesting apart from sexuality. I was hoping that, as a woman, you could tell me.
    --Lannie
     
  18. leave sex out of it and think about why. don't compare women to lines and curves and think about why.
     
  19. Zoe, both Lannie and I have been thinking . . . and sharing our thoughts with you . . . and doing so pretty genuinely. Your turn.
     
  20. jtk

    jtk

    The presence of a naked human doesn't reduce the image to "a nude" (the way Manet's image has been reduced here).
     
  21. Let's try this out on another form that is commonly a subject of a bodily response. Paraphrasing Landrum Kelly:
    "... as you know by now, there are those who always want to claim that the enjoyment of the roasted chicken is driven entirely by ones appetite, repressed or otherwise, but the fact is that your photos always give me food for thought, and so it is that, though I might be attracted at first by the pure power of the image, I can then sit for a long, long time and analyze why I respond to this or that roasted chicken differently--and I do not have to be viewing the roasted chicken(s) at the time in order to be able to do so.
    "Therefore I think that those who think that roasted chicken photography is about hunger and nothing else are well wide of the mark--although perhaps again subliminal hunger motives do enter again in determining which intellectual issues we find to be most fascinating. Therefore I should have to be the first to confess that both roasting (chickens in my case) and hunger do fascinate me--but I resist the notion that fascination with eating is the only factor operating when we find ourselves perplexed by the "power and glory" of the roasted chicken.
    "In any case, as I said, the roasted chicken does not only entertain or titillate. Roasted chickens (or at least some roasted chicken photos) also can and do make us think--some more than others. This one does make me think."​
    While I may stop to admire my the full, plump thighs and substantial breasts of my roasted chicken, I cannot seem to suppress my carnal response. I drool. My stomach rumbles. Even if the chicken is wearing glasses.
    Of course, you are a chicken, eternally the subject of mans' appetites, your view is somewhat different, even when they insist that they are only admiring your "lines" and your "form." Personal experience, starting at birth, all of history, psychology, and social customs, etc. etc. does tend to make one a wee bit doubtful.
    When I see a chicken in a swimsuit, I think swimming. When I see a chicken all plucked, I think dinner.
     
  22. Few figure photographs that I see I would classify as successful. There seems to be little reason to make them The statement seems to be "There's a naked (women / man) available in front of my camera so I'm taking a picture." When you look at classic art or classic figure photographs, there's a reason the artist is making an image or sculpture of the person. I have tried making figure photographs, and have generally failed miserably, precisely because I cannot find the reason for making the photograph.
    The statement that nudes entertain or tittilate I find totally false - the best figure photographs use the human body as a means of expression to say something that cannot be expessed in any other way. This photograph is an example of what I'm talking about. Likewise, this photograph is not about sex.
    But, can someone tell me - what's the point of the referenced photograph by Jim Phelps? I could live the rest of my life and not have missed anything by not viewing it.
     
  23. Julie, that was a an elegant, funny, and illuminating post.
     
  24. "why does the subject in Phelps photo, which shows so little, seem more naked (at least to me) than the one in the Francois B shot, which shows pretty much everything?"​
    Perhaps the words contrived, cliche, manufactured, banal, trite, and irrelevant may help you define the one that seems "more naked."
     
  25. @Zoe
    why do most female photographers also photograph female models then? they can't all be lesbians, i know i'm not. just wondering what you might think about that​
    Any reference to ‘sexual attraction’ can be emotive and lead to several knee-jerk responses, whereas in truth it can have several aspects: an emotional response, an innate physiological response, feeling of desire, or ‘full-on’ sexual stimulation.
    There is interesting psychological research that when shown pictures of same-sex nudes, women have a different reaction to men. In short, women show signs of brain activity and bodily response indicative of an innate sexual response (not the same as attraction). In light of the previous paragraph, this does not mean that you are a lesbian (from your comment you have no desire for the woman not does it act as sexual stimulation). Men are far less likely to show these responses when shown pictures of naked men.
    You have to layer on this, society’s attitudes. The male’s penis is an overtly sexual organ when aroused, in a way that breasts or the female groin is not. This leads to the attitude that showing the penis is less acceptable, even when flaccid and the male nude by default becomes a less common subject for art.

    @Zoe:
    leave sex out of it and think about why. don't compare women to lines and curves and think about why​
    But photography is all about light and, in turn, lines and shapes. So I am not sure how we can look at the nude as anything else. Iwill ignore the condescending tone of your post, but it sounds like you are about to enlighten us.
     
  26. "When you look at classic art or classic figure photographs, there's a reason the artist is making an image or sculpture of the person." --Steve
    Photographs and other mediums have come a long way since classical figure photographs. Jock Sturges, Robert Mapplethorpe, Ryan McGinley have each come up with their own reasons.
    _______________________________________
    As John Kelly rightly points out, the inclusion of a nude in a photograph doesn't make it "a nude" any more than the inclusion of a person or a building in a street shot makes it a portrait or an architectural study.
    ______________________________________
    "I have tried making figure photographs, and have generally failed miserably, precisely because I cannot find the reason for making the photograph." --Steve
    I can understand. I've tried making landscape photographs and generally failed. That says everything about me, my interests, my motivations, and my skills and nothing about landscape photography.
    ______________________________________
    "The statement that nudes entertain or tittilate I find totally false . . ." --Steve
    Totally false? The limits of any medium or genre are the limits of the practitioner or viewer.
    For each photograph you've posted that you think is not about sex, I could probably find a viewer for whom it is (at least partially) about sex and another photo of a nude subject by a different photographer that is much more clearly about sex.
     
  27. Lannie, whatever you mean by (a person) being "more naked", I feel it is hardly a question of revealing more or less of the body, but more the manner the artist employs in showing a normally hidden side of a person and his success at doing that (like in Mapplethorpe's final series, in which in an outoportrait he is placed with his hand resting on a skeleton-headed cane. A bit theatrical, perhaps, but very powerful).
    The shot you reference does absolutely nothing for me in that sense. I agree with Steve and Julie in their assessment of it. What does applying lipstick in some clichéd manner have to do with the rest of an image of a pretty young woman, posing on some sort of countertop. The image has the title, "Deep thoughts", which I also find very "forced", if not completely incongruous.
     
  28. Photographs and other mediums have come a long way since classical figure photographs. Jock Sturges, Robert Mapplethorpe, Ryan McGinley have each come up with their own reasons.
    Gee ...thanks for the art history lesson - I was totally unaware of that - I included a figure done by Maplethorpe precisely for that reason. You have misinterpreted (or I have been unclear) as to what I mean by classic figure photograph - by that I mean a photograph that includes a figure that adds to the photograph in an artististic sense - AND NOT a photograph done by a specific photographer or within a defined time frame.
    For each photograph you've posted that you think is not about sex, I could probably find a viewer for whom it is (at least partially) about sex and another photo of a nude subject by a different photographer that is much more clearly about sex.​
    Okay - you win. I don't know every viewer of photographs and their thoughts or every photographer who might be taking figure photographs and their motivations.
     
  29. I regret that the posts of small in-line versions of "Le déjeuner sur l'herbe" and "Olympia" by Manet were deleted, but I assume that most viewers know these two famous paintings--or can find them very quickly on the web.
    In retrospect, I almost wish that I had not posted the question that I did, but had instead addressed the issue as to why much of European proper society reacted so viscerally against these two masterpieces by Manet--but that would have left us in the field of painting, not photography. I cited the Phelps picture, and later the inverted "Frida" picture by Francois B on this site, because they differ so much on the matter of degree of eye contact--not simply because they differ so massively in terms of what is on display. I still believe that the degree of eye contact might figure into the analysis, while admitting that it is hardly the only variable. (As for the cheap shots against the Phelps nude, I can only say that I think that it is effective and well-done. It is hardly a "cheap" nude, and it certainly is not so by virtue of what it shows, if only because it really shows so very litte.)
    Let me get back to the eye contact issue, which coud be a question unto itself. I can only speculate as to why Manet's two masterpieces in question created such a scandal. Perhaps the demure model, looking away from painter or photographer, is purely an object--even if she is the Virgin Mary shown displaying a breast. The model looking directly at the artist (in either medium), by contrast, is no mere sex object, or at least is less passively so. That is only one thought that comes to mind, however, and probably not even the major factor in trying to answer the question as I did indeed post it.
    I certainly have to disagree that the "nude" degenerates into "nakedness" simply based on the quality of the photo. Indeed, I am not sure that there is any such "degneration," and certainly not in every case.
    If we go to Robert Graves' famous poem, "The Naked and the Nude," we actually get quite a different interpretation:
    For me, the naked and the nude
    (By lexicographers construed
    As synonyms that should express
    The same deficiency of dress
    Or shelter) stand as wide apart
    As love from lies, or truth from art.

    Lovers without reproach will gaze
    On bodies naked and ablaze;
    The Hippocratic eye will see
    In nakedness, anatomy;
    And naked shines the Goddess when
    She mounts her lion among men.

    The nude are bold, the nude are sly
    To hold each treasonable eye.
    While draping by a showman's trick
    Their dishabille in rhetoric,
    They grin a mock-religious grin
    Of scorn at those of naked skin.

    The naked, therefore, who compete
    Against the nude may know defeat;
    Yet when they both together tread
    The briary pastures of the dead,
    By Gorgons with long whips pursued,
    How naked go the sometime nude!


    The last line is a devastating rebuttal of the pronouncement of the superiority of any particular artistic representation and interpretation of the human form, although I do not know to what extent art criticism entered into Graves' reflections. One line is particularly instructive, however: they (the naked and the nude) "stand as wide apart as love from lies, or truth from art."
    I rather think that the very formal and detached artistic nude might at timess be the falser construct, and I get some comfort from the fact that not only Phelps but Graves see more honesty in what one might call the "naked nude."
    In any case, I want to thank Jim Phelps for risking so much of himself in allowing his photos to be subjected to such sometimes brutal commentary. Photo.net is not always a friendly place for those who invite us to think, whether with words or images.
    --Lannie
     
  30. As for the cheap shots against the Phelps nude, I can only say that I think that it is effective and well-done. It is hardly a "cheap" nude, and it certainly is not so by virtue of what it shows, if only because it really shows so very litte.​
    To each his own. What is "effective" about it? How is it effective and why? Well done? In what sense, the exposure is correct? What is the reason behind the photograph? If you haven't read or are not familiar with Wynn Bullock Photographing the Nude: The Beginnings of a Quest for Meaning I'd suggest reading or re-reading it.
    Then - get back to me on the quest for meaning of the cited photograph.
     
  31. "Gee ...thanks for the art history lesson" --Steve
    Sarcasm duly noted.
    "Okay - you win." --Steve
    This isn't a competition. It's a discussion. You seem to have a chip on your shoulder, so I'll steer clear of you. There are plenty who want to share ideas here and not beat each other up with attitude.
     
  32. When I try to create a posed portrait, I feel completely naked. Does that also count?
    Seriously.... Like with any style of photography, nudes is a wide category. It's kind of hard to discuss it as being one. Some nudes are indeed only about curves, shapes. Some are playing with the fact that a lot of men are easily aroused by seeing an undressed woman. Some play to the effect, some play with the effect, some do not have that effect at all. [Steve has fine examples of photos that indeed do fit in the latter category. The photo in the topic start, no idea where it fits.... deep thoughts did not help].
    In many ways no different than the difference in different photojournalists shooting for different audiences, wedding photographers, nature photographers and landscape-ists.... Different intents make different photos, and I do not think nudes are a special category as such.
    By the way, Zoe, leaving sex out of it is pure silliness, a large portion of nude photography is made playing with the effects of sexuality. It is part of the photographer's intent and it can be done very properly too. And, for me, sexual references do not degrade anything, to deny sex as part of normal life is asking to be extinct. Of course, it depends massively on how it is done.
    Back to the topic start: a good portrait of a fully dressed person can be more naked (emotionally nude?) than many portraits of undressed people. In that sense, I'd agree some photos can appear more naked than others. Vulnerability, as Lanny quotes in the topic start, is one of the things, but it can also be a certain flair of invulnerable directness. Some photos make the viewer feel naked as well.
    This level of more or less naked, I don't believe it's related to a lack of clothes....
     
  33. "It is hardly a 'cheap' nude, and it certainly is not so by virtue of what it shows, if only because it really shows so very litte. --Lannie
    Lannie
    , I put less emphasis (as photographer and viewer) on what details are shown* than on what is expressed . . . though what is expressed can certainly be affected by the details shown. I can imagine no rule of thumb that will cover a correlation between what is shown (do I see a vagina, a nipple, a penis?) and whether I experience nudity or nakedness (to use your distinction). There are plenty of "cheap" nudes that show little and plenty of good photographs that are explicit.
    I'm working on a pair of nudes at the moment (to be shown together). One seems to be working better when I crop just above the penis, leaving it out. The other seems more expressive to me as a full frontal nude, including the entire body. I think of them as portraits, not nudes or nakeds, though nudity and nakedness are involved integrally. Again, to use your distinction, I think there is an aspect of nudity in each and an aspect of nakedness in each. Where I'm choosing to leave the penis out, the expression of the face and surroundings seem stronger without it. Where I'm leaving it in, it obviously seems significant to what I want to show and express. Some of my considerations are purely compositional as well.
    I disagree with you and Graves on the instructiveness of his line that [nude and naked] "stand as wide apart as love from lies, or truth from art." Sometimes they do stand apart. Sometimes there's a lot of overlap and a very fine line between them. Sometimes they are inseparable. Neither is more true or more art. Both can be lies. And lies can be art.


    __________________________________
    *I've thought a lot about erect penises. ;))) It does seem to me that showing an erect penis will likely strike certain chords and act in a strongly sexual manner. That is by no means a given. I have sought to work against that type and have a couple of erections in my body of work. But, even in working a bit against type, I am conscious of the type, the expectations, and the associations and prefer not to be in denial about them.
     
  34. Personally I have never looked at any nude photo of a female, whether partially nude or fully nude, artistic or in a magazine ad, and NOT had a sexual thought of some kind. I am a heterosexual man and they were women. These are just the facts of nature. If one denies that, they simply have no understanding of nature or the human male. The photos in men's magazines are more nude than lets say photos on here due to brightness of the studio lights and positioning of the model. As well, many of those photos display all of the female body. Other than that I don't see any other thing that would make one nude more nude than another. When the female body is in subdued lighting or partially covered so there is mystery involved than it is actually more sexually attractive than a full nude in bright light. Does that mean it is more nude in the mind? Is that what we mean here? A female in a bikini is always more provocative than one fully nude walking around. Not that I am actually contributing anything to this discussion, but these are some things to consider when you have a particular goal in mind with nude photography. What is it you want the person viewing to feel?
     
  35. Any time a person poses for another, a human transaction takes place. The resulting image contains traces of the dynamics of this transaction. What is the nature of the transaction in the image Lannie provided (Lannie, in the future, please furnish the URLs to the pix)?
    In the Phelps image, the subject looks more comfortably nude than naked. Very much aware of her own image, and to a palpable degree, controlling it from prior experience. The lighting in that picture seems like more a question of quantity than quality.
    I can understand where Steve's questions and comments are coming from.
    Jock Sturges, Robert Mapplethorpe, Ryan McGinley, Man Ray, C.Sherman and many others invented their own language regarding the nude, which is why theirs stand out.
     
  36. Lannie, I am sorry that you consider some subjective artistic criticism as being "cheap shots". We can only learn from the percerptions of others to our images. I do hope Jim is reading the comments on the image you chose, as they are not brutal (unless honesty can be so qualifed) but sincere expressions meant to inform the photographer how his images are interpreted. You have not explained (unless I misssed something, and I am sorry if I did) why you reacted to it in the way you did, other than the fact that the nude seemed to you "naked" even though not fully so. I see little of her hidden personal nature (naked revelation) in the photograph. Others might.
    One thing that bugs me is that strong critricisms are not often made in portfolios. Are we all trying to be politically correct (in our perception of some show-and-tell reason for the site)? I would personally welcome one negative critique on my own (albeit partial) portfolio here as being fully equal to many many more positive ones lacking in supporting analysis. A critique is important in really understanding how some others honestly react to one's work. A negative appraisal need not be agreed with, but it permits a greater possibility of adding to the photographer's objectives and approach than tens of laudatory, unqualified, ones.
     
  37. Arthur, critiques (honest, brutal, or otherwise) are best left to the pages of a person's portfolio. It's been explained to us on various occasions that examples that illustrate philosophical points are welcome on this forum, but that this forum is not the appropriate venue for critiques of specific individual works. I appreciate that difference: between discussing ideas and illustrating them with photos on the one hand, and critiquing someone's work on the other.
     
  38. I happen to like Jim Phelps' photo, but the thread is not really about his photo. I am trying to plumb the psychological depths of our varying reactions to the nude form as captured in a photograph. I would like to find a theoretical foundation for understanding these varying reactions, even though I know that I will never find it. There are simply too many variables that affect persons' perceptions of photos--of all kinds.
    Arthur, I think that your post of 10:34 a.m. is dead on as to what gives us these varying reactions--even though Mapplethorpe does not do it for me as much as for you. You have nonetheless come the closest, I believe, to offering an answer that we can all live with: it certainly is not merely about what is shown, as Fred and others have likewise said. Rather, it is, as you say, about "the manner the artist employs in showing a normally hidden side of a person and his success at doing that." The Phelps photo was a trigger for me, not necessarily a paradigmatic case of the "naked nude," if we may speak of such. It does not even show a "normally hidden side." It nonetheless evokes something in me that bespeaks art and not merely lust, even though it is hardly Jim's best--and it raised the question for me, for reasons that even I do not know. It provoked me to think above all else, and that is good enough for me to want to include it.
    John, you are surely right that the Manet is not a nude by virtue of having a nude figure in it. Even so, it would not have turned out to have been so interesting for a social theorist such as myself without that figure in it, for then society might have ignored the painting--and I would never have been puzzled to find that it provoked a minor scandal of sorts in the art community of that epoch. I am still puzzled by that. Even so, the "Luncheon on the Grass" combined with "Olympia" (which is more along the lines of what most persons typically call a "nude") together seem to share some of the boldness and insouciance which account for the power of his work. What else they evoke is not clear--they might come closer to addressing some of the issues of "The Power and the Glory" thread of May, 2009--the power of the public nude, that is, whether "glorious" or not.
    Luis, please accept my apologies for not including the URLs. I posted inline 511-pixel-wide photos, which were deleted.
    There are certainly so many good posts to respond to, but, alas, I am at work and cannot begin to address them all. . . .
    --Lannie
     
  39. "It nonetheless evokes something in me that bespeaks art and not merely lust . . . " --Lannie
    I don't qualify lust with "mere". Lust is significant. Art and lust needn't exclude or oppose each other. Much art is born of lust and is about it, sexual and otherwise.
    [Lust, desire, longing, Eros . . . all related . . . and all related to the creative.]
     
  40. Regarding Mapplethorpe, in most of his pictures, even when wearing clothes, he is naked.
    http://www.mapplethorpe.org/portfolios/self-portraits/?i=5
    One thing that shines through in Mapplethorpe's pictures, specially his nudes, is the idea of trust. It says something about the nature of his transactions with his subjects, and it is more pronounced in pics where there are multiple figures in the frame, but here is an example with just one in the frame:
    http://www.mapplethorpe.org/portfolios/female-nudes/?i=2
    In many of Cindy Sherman's pictures, her nudes are not naked. The fake boobs, etc, in fact conceal Sherman's own nudity while revealing the nudity in the character she is portraying.
     
  41. "I appreciate that difference: between discussing ideas and illustrating them with photos on the one hand, and critiquing someone's work on the other." (Fred)
    It's a fairly fine line, Fred, and perhaps not explained well enough by the Forum leader such as to confirm or not your personal thoughts on whether a critique of a meaning of an image is valid in this forum or not. I think we are often very close on photography and perception of images, but I see no difficulty in accepting opinions that differ much from mine in regard to my own work and would hope that others might feel the same way about their own work . I hope I can maintain an open mind on how my work is perceived. My critique was not of the photographer and his oeuvre, but of whether his image contributed to the philosophcal point raised by Lannie or not. Lannie may well be seeing a hidden aspect of the subject that I may not be able to.
     
  42. "I see no difficulty in accepting opinions that differ much from mine in regard to my own work and would hope that others might feel the same way about their own work . I hope I can maintain an open mind on how my work is perceived."
    Me too, Arthur. In other venues on this site. I love critique and participate fully in giving and receiving them, both positive and negative. But this is a straw man. I wasn't talking about not accepting different opinions, nor do I think was Lannie. We're talking about where critiques are best given on PN. I agree that your statements about Phelps's photo are related to the philosophical ideas of the thread. Some other posters' comments are more opinions of his work per se. I wasn't questioning what you said about the Phelps photo. I was questioning what you said about critiques, in the context of this forum.
     
  43. As is usual when intelligent people begin to discuss concepts and ideas; it's all getting quite deep, so I'll inject a comment from the shallow end.
    With regards the original question as to the apparent difference between a picture of a nude, and a picture of a naked person, a simple grammatical rule springs to mind. For the most part naked/nakedness/nude/nudity etc. are interchangeable, but you don't hear of prisoners or victims being forcibly stripped nude. I would assume that this property of the word naked can affect our perception of the term, so that being naked is sometimes considered less a matter of choice than appearing nude
     
  44. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    A couple of things. There have been women photographers who took male nudes/nakeds, but these were either wife or husband or employer of employee, if I remember correctly. The other thing is that the penis give us too much information. A nude woman's state of actual sexual arousal is Mu. You don't have to resolve the sexual tension.
    One of the most oddly striking photographs taken as porn that I've ever seen was a clothed woman with an erect penis going horizontally at about chin level. The guy was reduced to just his cock (the photo was an ad for a video). I wish I'd kept a copy of it because it did some things that I haven't seen more official photography do. I didn't find it erotic as much as moving in a way I didn't expect to be moved -- and the clothed woman and the male reduced to the erect cock was about male vulnerability for me.
    The other thing is that overtly sexual or not, nudes will be sensual -- that's the largest sensory organ we've got exposed there. It may be harder for men to be that vulnerable in front of women.
    I also have a friend who has no interest in women sexually who does look at female nudes in photographs at least occasionally. There's more to the human body than the genitalia. He posted a link to a pair of fashion photographs -- one the women naked in heels; the other, in the same poses, in high fashion clothes. To him, the photos showed a collaboration between the women's care of their bodies and how those bodies could display the clothes. The clothes needed the good looking bodies to look good.
     
  45. @Lannie @Fred @Mitch
    re: why would women shoot nudes of other women
    because the medium has been dominated by men for centuries and some women feel that the overlying aspect of who and what a woman is has only been represented from a male perspective. men who are trying to know what being a woman is and missing the mark sometimes, not all the time, but a lot of the time. by asking my questions about why and trying to make you think about it I wasn't being an asshole. i was trying to get all of you men to think about it for a minute from a woman's perspective.
    i don't try to sexualize images ... though if someone is turned on by them that's something i can't help. i think those same people would also be turned on by a revelon advertisement. freedom in all it's aspects is sexy and freedom of expression is luscious. if that is a turn on, bravo. but strength is also very flattering. to think that the main objective to make a photograph of a nude woman, or man, is purely from a lustful point of view is shallow.
    women have been defined by men through photographs for so long that even women are confused about who they are and what their roles as women should be. some women photographers who shoot nudes are claiming their rights as women back from what they've been told through visual stimulation on how they should be. some women don't think that's who or what they are and the representations sometimes leads to frustration.
    to say that sexuality is the only aspect of nude photography misses the many underlying themes and genres of photography as a whole. some photographers actually have ideas they want to convey which could be conveyed through centuries of the human condition. when clothing is introduced to these ideas that time stamps the image, just like bellbottoms and platform shoes timestamps the 60s and 70s. a nude on the other hand has no timestamp. it is timeless. photographs by anne brigman or say man ray are even appreciated in today's time because they are nude and the theme of the photograph is relatable even in our technological driven age.
    i also think that only pointing out the lines and curves of a woman's body only objectifies women... meaning turning them into a still life like a pear or an apple, or lets say pineapple as that's my favorite fruit. while there are really amazing aspects of abstract photography in that sense, and i've done some myself, to say that it couldn't be accomplished photographing men also is wrong. sure, men are more straight than curved, but that just means you have to adjust your thought process and think in terms of straight lines instead of curvatures. that's not so sexy for some men, i know, but humor me. i haven't yet progressed in my own photography to where i photograph men (i have worked with exactly two men) but i'm certain that my views of men would be very different to how men see other men. the same as how women see other women.
    so anyway, that's SOME not all of what i'm talking about.
    have a beautiful day.
     
  46. I meant @Mike instead of @Mitch... sorry. had an email open from a friend named Mitch and the M's clashed.
     
  47. "The other thing is that the penis give us too much information."
    Not in all cases, by any means. Some men can feel sexual and not become erect. Additionally, I shoot many middle-aged and older men. Many of them wish their penises were such purveyors of information, but without Viagara, it doesn't seem to happen, whether they're turned on or not. A viewer may make an assumption about sexual content from a non-erect penis and it would be just that . . . an assumption.
     
  48. Zoe, thanks for the response.
    "men who are trying to know what being a woman is and missing the mark sometimes, not all the time, but a lot of the time."
    I've rarely had the feeling that male photographers who photograph nude women are trying to know what being a woman is. The photos most often are showing me (and I think the photographers are aware of this) how this man sees this woman (or women in general), from his perspective, not trying to adopt the woman's perspective. I'm sure some do, as you suggest, and it's an interesting suggestion!
    I have purposely posed nude for some of my male models because I did want to find out a bit about their perspective. But the photos I make are still very much my own. I assume some men photographing nude women are nude themselves when they're doing the photographing.
    I agree with you that the straighter lines of males can accomplish what the curvature of females does, in the right hands.
    I don't worry that nude studies (of either men or women), studies that concentrate on form or line, objectify them. Some much more narrative photographs of each objectify them much more. Look at the Nudes section of the critique queue here, you'll see many non-studies that are very objectifying. Look at the street section. You'll see people treated as objects all over the place. The genre doesn't objectify, the photographer does. Sometimes objectification takes place purposely. I've done it because it has expressed what I was feeling at the time. It can be quite real.
    I don't take your not sexualizing images as "a woman's perspective". I see it as your perspective. I don't necessarily think men look at other men the way women look at other women.
     
  49. "Some women photographers who shoot nudes are claiming their rights as women back from what they've been told through visual stimulation on how they should be. Some women don't think that's who or what they are and the representations sometimes leads to frustration." (Zoe)
    Absolutely. Male photographs of women have unfortunately, except in the most imaginative of work, become clichés. Seeing women photographing women is refreshing. There may be some stereotypes in that also, but it at least gives another view, another abstraction. Visit the Figuremodels.org site (re-Anne Brigman images) or http://www.artnudes.com, if you want to see some different approaches to nude photography.
     
  50. I find this distinction a bit silly, "male/man photographs" vs "female/woman photographs", to describe the photographer instead of the photographs subject - which is the thing through which the photographer may or may not be described - and which obviously is very different in context if the image is either a well considered nude or the cheap kinda porn-erotica stuff.
     
  51. Zoe - "a nude on the other hand has no timestamp. it is timeless. photographs by anne brigman or say man ray are even appreciated in today's time because they are nude and the theme of the photograph is relatable even in our technological driven age."
    Zoe, to the discerning eye, they are dated, because of the way they were photographed, the optical signature of the materials/equipment used at the time, etc. If I look at Brigman's pictorialist-era work, it's fairly well fixed in time. Man Ray's surrealist nudes, too.
     
  52. @Luis - that's if you think that all photographs are made digitally in our times, which a lot are not. there are many photographers still using the same techniques today that anne brigman and man ray used. while not as popular it doesn't mean it's a dead medium. i still do platinum printing and quite a few of my friends still do wet plates. the date stamp is the emergence of digital photography and 35mm photography. i suppose every technique can have a date stamp, but only if you know absolutely the timeline of the images. i could make a 4x5 film image and print it in platinum and the only way you'd know if it was made in 2010 and not 1880 would be if you took it to a lab and studied the chemicals and paper stock.
    @Fred - of course a genre isn't the sole cause of objectification. that's not what i was saying at all. only a person can objectify another person. and i said SOME women when speaking about sexualizing nudes. the majority of women who view nude photography don't like it because it IS objectifying. like the wife finding the playboy hidden in your secret spot and giving you the look. that happens all the time because the magazine is based on sex and the wife probably wants to be seen as something more than that. when the wife sees the magazine she feels that's what her husband thinks a woman should be, so she's offended. (OMG Venus & Mars) So, it definitely is the perspective of the majority of women, photographers or not. while some women photograph to please a man's eye, and there are many, there are also women who ignore it.
    @phylo - women and men do photograph differently. just like they dress differently and think differently. so to think that a woman's response to nude photography would be the same as a man's response is naive. some women find it liberating, some women find it degrading, some women are embarrassed that they don't look as good as the models in the images so they find distaste in the pictures. there are many emotions women go through when they see nudes. most emotions are not sexual. and i've only touched a couple of emotions ... women are capable of millions of emotions in a millisecond. that's why we cry more than men do, if you've failed to notice.
     
  53. Zoe,
    i was trying to get all of you men to think about it for a minute from a woman's perspective.​
    Earlier I was afraid you were trying to push us into that direction, I refrained from commenting on it since it would have sounded hostile. But, anyway, Fred is very right, you're asking us to see it from your perspective, not a generic woman's perspective.
    Apart from the assumption that we didn't consider this (which I think is wrong, this forum can be held in a somewhat higher regard than that), it's also assuming a female unified stance on how they want to be seen, an a generic male reaction to that. Which is a very wrong assumption.
    Apart from cultural differences (countries where women are held in higher regards than men, or totally equal), there also are plenty women who are fine with and enjoy using their sensuality and sexuality. There are plenty women volunteering to be pictured nude, by men. Don't forget that this bodily play of sexuality is no more than a mating ritual and a normal biological process.
    And on the other hand, there are men that are not at all that pleased with seeing nudes, for a wide variety of reasons. Not all of us start to drool like maniac monkeys.
    The playboy example you give in response to Fred... because the man has a sex magazine, he sees his wife as a lust object and no more and the majority of women think this. Really? Sure, because all men are like that and all women are like that. Don't you find it a bit too simple yourself?
    some women find it liberating, some women find it degrading, some women are embarrassed that they don't look as good as the models in the images so they find distaste in the pictures. there are many emotions women go through when they see nudes. most emotions are not sexual.​
    And you think it is any different for men seeing male nudes? There is nothing specific female about this at all.
    that's why we cry more than men do, if you've failed to notice.​
    No, that is a deep embedded cultural response where women are held to be the emotional ones, and males the rational ones. These are just role models, and depending on your country of origin more than your chromosomes. You're constantly pushing the differences between male and female, but yet want to be treated the same?
    Probably you will find my response male aggressive, and you'll have a point. But the point is: assume a bit less, and see the shades of grey, rather than black and white (or Mars and Venus if you insist).
    I get the more than faint idea you find nudes to be degrading. Your posts do suggest a value opinion of a genre, without realising a lot of subtleties and nuances. Yes, it's good for us males to consider female opinions on this, in a considerate and thoughtful way. But please do return the favour.
     
  54. yes... tell the woman about women... sure. @wouter really?
    women are more emotional than men. that's not to say that men are more rational because you've demonstrated that is a false statement by trying to explain women to a woman.
    "You're constantly pushing the differences between male and female, but yet want to be treated the same?" (wouter)
    there's no way in hell a man would ever treat me the same way he would treat another man, clearly or you wouldn't be speaking this way towards me in a condescending tone.
    one man here agreed with my point of view out of how many men commenting here? @Arthur was the only one. that ought to tell you something. all the rest of you are telling me i'm wrong. i'm not. i'm explaining how some women photograph and how some women react to nude photography. and they all do so differently than most men do.
    should we go further down the psychological path towards why women get severely irritated by irrational responses men give them or the irrational photographs men take of women? (i'm being an asshole now, clearly)
    I knew the venture into the boys club here would end in stupidity. Have fun boys... it's your genre and only your genre after all.
    *eyeroll*
     
  55. Like I said, I knew my reaction would come across hostile. I apologised upfront for that, and I do it again. But you're reading my posting wanting to hear specific things, and that was the exact point of the post. Yes, it ends in stupidity, but for other reasons than this being a boy's club.
     
  56. @wouter - what i described is a generic woman's perspective. ask around to women who are not photographers. have a gander at a feminist website. this is a good one: http://www.jezebel.com It's witty and humorous without being unsexy. You might start to understand women, maybe. But, like you've misinterpreted my explanation, I would assume you'd misinterpret everything on that website also. but it's how most women feel, whether or not we vocalize those feelings is another matter. especially inside this semi-masoginistic realm of male dominated photography. i don't enjoy someone dissecting something i spent some time on to try and clearly come across to people only to have it misconstrued and restructured in order to mean something totally different than what I meant. I don't enjoy having someone tell me that what I said wasn't what I meant. I didn't ask anyone to look at anything from MY OWN perspective. if you thought it was hostile, then why did you bother typing all that out to begin with?
    being a model for over 30 years then taking up photography, i think i understand a thing or two about different perspectives and photography, modeling, and everything that goes along with it. it's been my entire life. and since i don't see any photographs of models in your portfolio, how the hell could you possibly tell me how it is? that's completely illogical.
    And your apology might sound honest and sincere if it wasn't so backhanded in it's delivery.
     
  57. women are capable of millions of emotions in a millisecond. that's why we cry more than men do, if you've failed to notice.​
    Talk about generalisation! And stereotyping! Men are also capable of 'millions of emotions in a millisecond' (unless you can point me to any evidence to the contrary) - the difference is how that is conveyed. And a lot of that is driven by upbringing. You talk about men 'stereotyping' society's image of women then do the same thing yourself.
    There are oftern more differences between individuals of the same sex than there are between the sexes.
     
  58. @Mike - I'm quite over this conversation. truly. So, all of you boys can go focus on other things now. I tried to contribute an honest feeling about the genre and all you've managed to do is talk down at me for it.
    have a beautiful day everyone!
    so long and thanks for all the fish!
     
  59. have a gander at a feminist website.​
    Referring to a feminist website to support a view of the reaction 'women' have to nudity/nakedness is a strange one.
    especially inside this semi-masoginistic realm of male dominated photography​
    I think this says more about your own view (as mondel and photogrpaher) than it does about men.
    being a model for over 30 years then taking up photography, i think i understand a thing or two about different perspectives and photography, modeling, and everything that goes along with it​
    I agree completely. But at the end of the day it is your view. I am sure the Pirelli Calendar girls and the topless tabloid girls have quite different views and motivations, as do Lord Litchfield and the makers of pornographic shots.
    If I may be so bold, you come onto a (male comindated, as you see it) forum and try to tell experienced photographers that their conceptions of how women (and men!) view nudes. So to be honest I am not surprised some took offence.
     
  60. So, all of you boys can go focus on other things now. I tried to contribute an honest feeling about the genre and all you've managed to do is talk down at me for it.​
    Oh c'mon, man-up a little !, I thought all women were, uhm, flexible... just like all men are made out of rubber, can't feel pain, and don't have any emotions at all to process, besides thinking each ten seconds about sex.

    I think there's a mix-up here between the portrayal of women in and through media and advertisements ( which I don't view as photography, not in the sense of "photographers photography / history of " ) and that of the more well considered female nude seen through the eyes of a photographer firstly / equally, and which isn't necesarily about the objectification of women just because the photographer is a man.


    And, there's only ONE man who never ever cries and that's Chuck Norris, too bad really, because his tears can cure cancer.
     
  61. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    The operative possible stereotype here maybe that women aren't driven as much by vision in their sexuality, but the other question might be why don't lesbians write more women/women graphic stories, make more women/women vids (there are some out there, but not so much nakedness/nudity). I'm nervous about stereotypes that sound good but can backfire: women are cooperative, women work with people better. I think guys do that cooperation thing just fine and women don't always cooperate with other women -- and the variance within either gender is greater than the average difference between genders.
    It's fairly obvious that men like to think that women who write the male/male stuff are heterosexual, but I don't know any women slash writers who are straight (one friend who's more in that world than I am says she doesn't know any either, but surely they might exist).
    But I didn't think I was the only woman who saw eroticizing of a forum as making the place about guy's erotic fantasies rather than sharing anything we might have in common. And at least some gay guys got upset over women's slash fiction, probably in part that it objectified them (and yes it can, and that's part of the fun).
    If I were to venture a stereotype here, it would be that women's eroticism, straight or gay, is more focused on faces.
    I was an art model for a while and how people read my being naked in front of them varied quite a lot. For me, it was not particularly erotic, and working for a painter who didn't take it as such was much less a hassle than modeling for an art class where at least one of the guys made it clear that he did.
    One guy said something on another forum here about wishing all women would wear mini skirts and high heels to please an old man. I was quite angry -- high heels are not as bad as foot binding but they're considerably worse physiologically for their wearers than a head scarf. Second, he obliterated all women who were old, not really attractive in mini-skirts. He wasn't thinking about old women in mini-skirts and high heels. Mildly crippling women so he could see tense twitchy calf muscles -- okay, let's stop talking about how horrible other cultures are to their women -- at least they don't make high heels part of an office dress code.
    Chinese art doesn't have a nude tradition (perhaps outside complete pornography). Nakedness was a sign of poverty. Other cultures (thinking now of a Masai who studied at Harvard who thought ugly people should cover it up and the young should be the ones showing their bodies) see more bare flesh on a daily bases, so the kinda weird thing we do with banning showing women's breasts on beaches, allowing men to go topless, and making the art photographs of bare women is because we don't actually see that much women's flesh on a daily bases to de-eroticize it? Perhaps we don't do that many male nudes because male torsos bare are common in daily life?
    Only our Western Eurasian and transplanted culture derived from Western Eurasia makes nudes as art on a regular basis. American art traditions have some cultures where women do rather funny graphic pottery (Andean culture, but not Incas) but in general, there's not the equivalent that I'm aware of in pre-Columbian art of the European nude. Classical Greek nudes may be in another category all together, but some cultures where both genders exercised nude didn't do figurative art at all as far as I know (Sparta). Classical Islamic cultures didn't do any openly figurative work even of clothed people -- and there's a minority opinion today that photography is <i>haram</i> because it is a making of a representation of a living thing. Classical Islamic cultures certainly had written pornography, though. Maybe it's if you don't see it enough, you can fantasize about it better. Guys tend to run around closer to nude in this set of cultures than women, though that's changing in some European countries.
     
  62. Zoe - - that's if you think that all photographs are made digitally in our times, which a lot are not. there are many photographers still using the same techniques today that anne brigman and man ray used. while not as popular it doesn't mean it's a dead medium. "@Luis
    Zoe, it's the consciousness that timestamps it more than anythjing else. You cannot be Brigman or Man Ray, no matter how hard you try to imitate them.
     
  63. When I see a chicken in a swimsuit, I think swimming. When I see a chicken all plucked, I think dinner.​
    Strange to say, Julie, so do I--and I am not ashamed of it. Your parody of my words was very clever, in any case.
    Zoe, thanks for trying. Goodness knows we have trouble enough getting women to contribute to some of these forums without bashing them for doing so.
    I was hoping that women in particular could give us some new insight on this particular topic. We already know how men tend to respond on these issues, although there is (I hope) more to the original question than has been addressed so far by those of either sex. I was actually hoping for a serious analytical and even interdisciplinary approach to the various variables that affect human perception where the photographic nude is concerned. Any cultural anthropologists out there with anything to say? We dare not universalize our own cultural norms to some presumption that our personal responses are "human nature." Human nature there is, but it is not clear to me what cultural variables come into play in shaping our responses to such difficult questions--and they are difficult. We do well not to trivialize them, in my opinion, although a bit of levity is certainly not out of place. So far Julie wins the levity contest hands down.
    Rebecca, I see that you are back and commenting very clearly and unambiguously. Things are looking up, guys, if we can get more serious female participation in these forums and on this site. The women know the answer, if anyone does.
    Julie, thanks for the great links. That is the sort of thing that I was hoping for--conjoined with serious philosophical argumentation.
    --Lannie
     
  64. Perhaps we don't do that many male nudes because male torsos bare are common in daily life?​
    As good a use of Occam's razor as I have seen in a long time! A very interesting thought.
    But this does bring us back to the 'unknown as the exotic'. We have meditative tradition in Christianity but people tend to prefer to dive into Buddhism. We have superb Western cuisine but the trend is for Asian food (in the UK anyway). Women (tend to be) more covered up than men and the female form becomes more lauded as an object of art.
    To quote Nat King Cole: " in olden days a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking'. But more than that, its rarity (and the fact it was on the female body) meant that the ankle itelf became an object of eroticism. We have the same thing in Islam where in areas where full-body coverage is the norm (for women), the eyes become incredibly communicative and teh subject of eroticism.
    And the spiral continues (I was going to say 'circle' but it comes back round with more layers).
     
  65. Lannie, you sound patronizing. Nobody was bashed for contributing. Like always, we called someone on assumptions, attitude, and false generalizations.
    Zoe, you prejudged the outcome before you entered.
    Nothing enlightening here.
     
  66. Fred, there are indeed two things I found enlightening:
    (1) the inability of the contributors, myself included, to come to terms with the questions ("Why does the photographic nude vary so greatly in its impact on us? More specifically, why do some nudes appear more nakedthan others?") in a very insightful philosophical way (most responses for me were too much "meat and potatoes" with little nuance of a complementary "sauce");
    (2), and probably also due to some very fixed models of thought and unyielding paradigms, the continuation of the so-called "male European attitude towards women", something that was thought to have changed a little in North America and that has not differed significantly in most parts of the world. Having lived and worked in both milieuxs, the differences are there but maybe less so than before. The very few women who rise to top corporate or political jobs need often to have ten times the capabilities of their male competitors, and have often left their female preoccupations, identity and values somewhere on the roadside.
    Whether the intent is sensual or simpy aesthetic, a woman photographing a woman or a man nude is often bringing different thoughts to the project than a man doing the same. But quick rewind to my first point here, we have not discovered here what I think Landrum wished, for either male or female photographers. In that sense, I agree that the discussion has not been very enlightening for this reader/contributor.
     
  67. Arthur, I suppose if I wanted to, I could bring up the heterocentrism and often unwitting homophobia of society at all levels which could influence my reaction to everything each individual says to me. It is sometimes obvious, like when a few straight guys who look at one of my male nudes begin their comments with a version of "I'm not gay, but I like this because . . . " Because, of course, for a guy to appreciate a male nude, it has to be qualified! But even in those instances, I more appreciate the genuineness of the comment than choosing to obsess about my own real and imagined or projected victimhood. Of course I see the world through my male, Jewish, gay, urban, tall person's eyes, but I try not to use those factors as bludgeons against others and I try not to let those factors blind those very same eyes. Maybe I give people in this forum more credit than you and Zoe in being able to be genuine and in approaching the subject knowing the limitations of their own inherited biases and the biases of the world and able to carry on a philosophical discussion nevertheless. Have you never felt pounced on in this forum? Did you blame it on some generic fact about what group of people you fit into or did you see it in another light?
    You've offered some of the same thoughts here as others about the supposed nude/naked dichotomy as well as your opinion of the photo linked to at the start of the thread. For me, meat and potatoes (though I'm a vegetarian!) are significant and it's the gravy that often overdresses the meal and adds unhealthy fat. What can you say that would be more enlightening on the subject and, perhaps, get the discussion on a track that you prefer.
     
  68. This is perhaps by favorite nude image I have seen on PN:
    http://www.photo.net/photo/10391730
    And, here is my favorite "naked" image I have seen on PN:
    http://www.photo.net/photo/10399451
    There is an amazing power reflected in each image and inescapable beauty of extraordinary depth, but only one woman is really naked - and obviously, she is clothed.
    After reading Julie's insightful contributions, I visited her homepage and I found this on her blog from a few days ago:
    In the poetry contest in China by which the Sixth Patriarch of Zen Buddhism was chosen, there were two poems. One said: “The mind is like a mirror. It collects dust. The problem is to remove the dust.” The other and winning poem was actually a reply to the first. It said, “Where is the mirror and where is the dust?”
    So, in response to your initial question Lanny, I think the second poet offers the answer. In all of this there is incredible art ... if one is only willing to look. Thanks for the engaging topic.
     
  69. "Have you never felt pounced on in this forum? Did you blame it on some generic fact about what group of people you fit into or did you see it in another light?"
    Fred, no, no and yes. Maybe I am thick-skinned about personal remarks made to me (although I have been bated at times but that is different than being pounced on), or just accepting of divergences of opinion, but I like to think that I am personally open to a variety of ideas and am sensitive to those of others and of groups whom I feel have been "classified" by segments and individuals of society. That's why I think Zoe, who has strong feelings about women in society, should be heard and seriously considered, rather than being pounced upon. This week, we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the vote given to women in our constituency. Yes it happened as early as 1916 in another (Manitoba) constituency of my country, but it does make one think about the incredible slowness of progress.
    Perhaps we have evolved something of use in the thread, which is the thought that nakedness is not always nudity, and the thought that nudity is not necessarily nakedness.
     
  70. Arthur,
    The fact that this discussion got rather derailed (for which I am certainly to blame), does not mean that nobody tried, or that we cannot get to terms with the raised questions. In my first post, I certainly tried to address some points which are in line with what the topic start was about. And I most certainly wasn't the only one.
    To me, any discussion on why nudes would be different photographs requires first to stop generalising the genre. Second, I think it is key to realise that the "deal" about nudity is a cultural thing. For some a shame, for some lust inducing, for some improper, and so on. So, yes, it may be closer to the a taboo (for some), but that does not make it any different in term of photography than all the other types of photography. So, in my view, what we would be discussing is not nude photography, but cultural, religious and personal inhibitions regarding display of the human body, and potentially gender issues affecting that.
    Second, the difference nude versus naked, I can only repeat what I said on that before. Yes, to me there is a difference, totally unrelated to clothing.
    Partially aside,
    The very few women who rise to top corporate or political jobs need often to have ten times the capabilities of their male competitors, and have often left their female preoccupations, identity and values somewhere on the roadside.​
    In university, I had a course in gender history (gender relations throughout the times), and this was indeed one of the things highlighted. However, it was similarly highlighted that the other way (at this moment, in European/American society) seems to be to fully embrace being female, and use that. Either way, it is adapting to a male society, but one loosing the female-ness, one using it. The second is less popular, because it is often referred to as making career with bedside manners... but as always, there is more nuance to it than that.
    [edit]: We posted at the same time, I'm referring to one post earlier.
     
  71. Arthur, if Zoe was being pounced upon, it was for the ideas she expressed and her manner of expressing them. I don't see that anyone pounced on her because she is a woman. But I'm a guy, what do I know?! This struggle will never go away, nor will the gay/straight, black/white Jew/Arab. We are all so invested in these struggles. We say we want them to disappear and we do everything in our power to continue them as well . . . on all sides.
     
  72. Nudes are imbued with power. 'The glory of something is its great beauty or impressive nature'. I shoot a lot of nudes because of this power and glory.
    I didn't read part one.
    Often nudes are equated to sex, understandably if unfortunate sometimes.. partly because nudity is often viewed as a step toward sex it causes a strong reaction for some. naked, erotic, pornographic, sensual, offensive, poetic, nature, cultural, historical, tiresome....tiresome. But I don't underestimate gender or sexual preference of the photographer or viewer in the equation. When I go to shoot I often genuinely consider (sometimes before sometimes after) if I am more in touch with my masculine side or my feminine side. It's often legible to me. It's especially useful when shooting nudes (not exclusively). Of course I will never 'see' as a woman always a male but not a one trick pony.. My feminine side does see differently and has a voice that i admire.
    When I began shooting nudes with a serious intent I was taken back by the frequency of my friends (predominately male) asking who the model was. Women seemed much less interested in knowing the identity. I hadn't been taking portraits of nude women/men I was producing nudes, generic. The identity of the model was often secondary for me. Objectifying? Sure. I was objectifying the individual but I was most often studying a gender or even just a shape and play with light.. as others have said I don't find it wrong to see a nude model as an object. In response to the oft asked 'who is that' I began to exclude the face, or head of the model. still life?
    Furthermore I see a distinction in objectifying and degradation, an easy and sometimes murky line to cross. I have. Sometimes with good intent and results sometimes just trashy. I do it because it exists and interests me. I lust and I will share it, not deny it anymore than I would my romantic side. It has taught me much about who we are. who i am and improved me for it. From Bellmer, Drtikol, Brigman to Clark, Penn (dancer) and Sturges. There is still power and glory to explore in nudes.
    I read once that photography was a great equalizer for the sexes as an art medium. Suggesting that it was not as easy to recognize the differences between male and female artists. I find it so on the surface but i also relish the differences that have emerged. and that there is a more profound difference that it seems on the surface of most imagery. In mature nude photography the differences are not so great imo until the edges are pushed.
     
  73. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Fred, I'm a gun person, too, and while I don't normally out myself in mixed company or among people who are avidly anti-hangun, I want to bring up a story about stuff guys don't know about themselves. I don't currently own a handgun, but giving myself permission to use whatever force necessary to defend myself was a fairly transforming experience.
    In almost every interaction women have with men, the men are likely to have the physical advantage. There's the saying, "Men are afraid women will laugh at them. Women are afraid men will kill them." Well, I was with a bunch of guys talking trash about handguns and such and showing each other our concealed weapons permits, and handlng, among other things, an Uzi, a Glock, and a Calico (all unloaded) at a science fiction convention in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
    Even though the guns weren't loaded, the whole traditional gender structure collapsed. An older woman friend noticed, too. If we're all armed, then the subliminal cues and dominance and submission games don't work. The guys started doing something that seemed like re-defining gender, talking about women still as sexual, but in a very different way, say, in having the keys to the handcuffs. It must have been for them like my meeting a black person who didn't defer made me realize how much and how subtly other blacks I'd known, even those I thought I was friends with, had deferred and how little I'd noticed.
    Until the numbers reach something like 20%, minorities tend not to relax. Women also know that sometimes what we're facing is one queen bee and the guys, and we don't want to be stung to death, either.
    I'm not sure guys understand the messages women get about how dangerous they can be. All of us have had strangers get angry because we wouldn't start talking to them.
    Yes, it's not all males, but until a woman rule out that a strange new male isn't one of the bad guys, they're being prudent, not bigoted, to make sure the guy does see her as more than someone born to gratify his sexual pleasure. And not all nudes are females or males displaying themselves to the man. One of the things I like about your photographs is that they're portraits of people, not all of whom are young and lithe. They're human and vulnerable, real people behind the eyes.
    Hum, a thought I hadn't had before. Some women use the sexual posing to distract from the vulnerability, perhaps. The de-individualization could be deliberate. They're not showing themselves as real (I commented on one woman looking almost masculine in an otherwise somewhat erotic pose, her face wasn't saying what her body was).
     
  74. Rebecca, I play with de-individualization and sometimes I genuinely and consciously objectify my subjects. I think Josh made an important distinction between objectification and degradation. The first doesn't necessarily entail the second, though it can. It's when we objectify without consciousness that we're usually in trouble. Many snappers of homeless people don't intend to objectify and have good intentions. But their unconscious objectification of people on the streets can be very degrading nonetheless. Better photographers may still objectify homeless people, but with intention and expression and move the viewer to an acute awareness about that objectification about the homeless person as a person. That's a different and not a degrading story.
    Same with objectification of nudes. I think there's been a confusion in this thread between nude studies and other photographs that have nudity in them and a tendency for some to see nude studies as somehow automatically objectifying and therefore bad. The purpose of a nude study is, to some extent, to objectify. I don't see that as inherently bad. Much worse are the more narrative and story-telling photos that objectify the nude participant. Again, if it's done consciously and with intent and expresses something genuine, I have no problem with an objectification in a more narrative photo. But if women are being objectified in a narrative photo without a thought on the part of the photographer, it is likely to be a malignant sort of objectification, the lack of consciousness adding to the malignancy.
    There are many examples, like your great gun story, of the kinds of role reversals among the sexes and orientations. I loved the reactions of a lot of guys about allowing gays in the military, the ubiquitous we-don't-want-to-shower-with-them reactions. First of all, as if they've never been in a shower with gay men already, like the ones who are forced to remain closeted in their very units. But beyond that, it relates to why we may not see men posing nude all that often. I wonder if many men -- especially ones who would balk at showering in public with a gay guy who might be among the many people they're already showering with -- prefer to do the objectifying and can't stand the thought of their being someone else's object.
    When a lot of gay soldiers would get up and testify that they weren't turned on in the showers and that the straight servicemen had nothing to worry about, I often shouted at the TV, "yes they do!" We're looking and watching and enjoying. The shoe's on the other foot, guys. Deal with it!
     
  75. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Josh, the power and the glory of the nude is your idea of the nude. I read the earlier installment of this and thought it was often just so much male "her body is so intelligent and wise, why do we need her to have a brain, too. It's so unfair." I didn't see much power and glory for me in being naked even when I was young and weighed 130 pounds. You're reading your response into the woman's situation. Nudes to me are people being vulnerable, including vulnerable to their desires and the desires of people around them. That they're all sorts of other things, too, comes second for most women. Saying the naked/nude female body has power and glory is like you're speaking Martian.
    Fred, the gay guys were bitching about the slash writers, too. "OMG, women are using us as fantasy objects and stealing our right to express our sexuality as we see fit." And some of the young guys do distort their lives pursuing beauty, much as women often do.
    Enjoying watching, oh, yeah -- I think most of the viewers, regardless of orientation and gender, liked seeing Matt Bomer's pecs and navel (White Collar, USA network, and they've got episodes on line for free). A couple of straight women said they really didn't care if he was gay, they had no more chance of actually sleeping with a straight male star than with a gay one, and he is supremely good looking. Bomer takes his shirt off and everyone sighs, even if the pleasure is strictly aesthetic.
     
  76. Hi Rebecca. "Josh, the power and the glory of the nude (photo) is your idea of the nude." indeed.
    "You're reading your response into the woman's situation." ? " Saying the naked/nude female body has power and glory is like you're speaking Martian."
    I speak for no one. Male or female. model, photographer or viewer. Speaking a 'different language' (viewpoint) is not a bad thing to me. But I acknowledge that I speak Martian occasionally, and many men think I am speaking it to them also. In this case I wasn't talking about the model, the viewer or a woman's situation. I was talking about the nude photo, the genre of nude photography as I experience it.
    When you posted ""... They're not showing themselves as real (I commented on one woman looking almost masculine in an otherwise somewhat erotic pose, her face wasn't saying what her body was)." My first thought was that you are describing a potentially enlightening nude, if well done.
     
  77. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Josh, do the nude photographs with guys show the same power and glory? If not, why not?
     
  78. Rebecca,"... the same" no but are guy nudes imbued with power and glory, yes. I do attempt male nudes myself but with a few exceptions it has eluded me. My inability to tap it. I respond differently as a viewer also. and for those reasons I have a special affinity for male nudes and the photographers.
    From Leni Rifenstahl to (talk about power and glory) to Ryan McGinley and many more have been very effective in photographing the male. The hangup I encountered in all early attempts was to approach the male like a female. Inexperience..., to this day I don't much enjoy female or male nudes that the model could have been either (with exceptions). I'm drawn to the the differences explored without ignoring the similarities. I have photographed my own body over the years, naked. I have given over my camera to a model a number of times to be photographed through their eyes. Usually very different than how I see myself.
    I have also experienced the power and even the glory of my own body. Or to be an object to other males. I lived in a gay neighborhood for many years. I was very often the object of someones desires and lust (even forcefully). Granted that 18ish years in the neighborhood does not qualify as growing up female, - not the point, i did'nt learn the same lessons as you or others.. but I am not without some ability to speak rough Venutian if you prefer hearing what you already know. Of course it differs from your and anyone else's experience. All of this goes into the mix or in to the photography. Just look at the diversity and passions that nudity stirs up even in discussion form. How could we deny the power that may be tapped as a subject for photography. There is something so fundamental and intriguing ...
     
  79. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    I have no trouble with it as a subject of photography, but I'm still not convinced of the power and the glory bit, or you mean different things with these words than I do.
     
  80. I have not been using the religious doxology(?) 'power and glory'
    power for me is often found in the ability to move, control for better or worse. influence. energize or relax, stir, stimulate yada...
    glory - as i said before, 'The glory of something is its great beauty or impressive nature'
    just potential tools I find inherent in the genre.
     
  81. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Not all nude photographs are of beautiful people. Or are you saying they should be or that older people who are not so lithe and impressive can't do nudes, sort of like the Masai Harvard student telling Americans that their old people ought to wear more clothes at the beach?
    Annie Leibovitz's photograph of John Lennon and Yoko Ono has a clothed Ono with a naked clinging Lennon. Power? Glory? It's a tremendously impressive photograph, in part because it reverses the cliche of clothed man and naked woman. But I don't think it's quite the power and glory you were looking for, or is it?
     
  82. Rebecca, could you stop projecting for a minute here? Please!
    Any studied person, academic or aesthetic, artist, Greek scholar, or just well read, knows that when one speaks of "great beauty" that is different than what you are taking to be the much more mundane and superficial use where it would refer to a beautiful person. Do you honestly think Josh is saying the power and glory of the nude lies in an Abercrombie and Fitch catalogue or on an unclothed Hollywood red carpet? What the . . .
    You aren't listening. You are totally on the path of your own agenda and you're letting it completely blind you to where others, particularly Josh, are coming from. You pegged Josh from the word go. Wrongly.
     
  83. I don't really understand where your first paragraph is getting legs. Perhaps it is with the word beauty? a word that I use generously and genuinely. Clothes at the beach is a different equation in my book unrelated to nude photography. And age is not an obstacle to beauty for me.
    re. John and Yoko. sure it is an absolutely a sublime example of the power and glory one can tap with a nude. a reversal and I think more. It oozes and uses, even celebrates the power and glory. Now how would it differ with a visible penis? a shift of impact at least...and for a lot of people a significant impact. that implies power in the hands of the photographer and the viewer. as does taking a more nuanced approach by not including genitals.
     
  84. I must say I find this whole link fascinating, as much for the tangents that it has been taken on as for the original question posed. In answer to the original question of "Why do some nudes appear more naked than others" though I will add my two pence worth.
    Traditionally we humans, especially in the "civilised" world associate nudity with sex - given. However, on a psychological level it goes deeper. Nudity also means privicy and vulnerability in the majorty of cases. We are, on the whole, only naked in private or in the precence of those we trust on an intimate level. Therefore the photographing of a nude is exposing them physically in an obvious way but also at a deeper psychological level. We are seeing something private and intimate. Dependent upon the posing and set up this can be increased. For example, if the nude is surrounded by others who are clothed it adds to the sense of vulnerability as we can empathise with the nude and react emotionally as if it were us (which is almost certainly differently to the reaction of the model). It brings forwards the common fear of being naked in public, to be strippd bare and seen for everything that you are, not just physically but your whole person. This is a common dream for many people - being in a public and often familiar setting e.g. work, shops etc but being naked and everyone around you clothed. It also extends to the theory of imagining those around you naked in order to add confidence in a situation such as an interview.
    I think therefore, the reason some nudes appear more naked is due to the level of intimacy and discomfort we feel when viewing the image. Do we feel we are intruding on some private moment or does the image conjour up feeling of discomfort due to empathy in ourselves for the situation the model is in. The voyeristic sensation can be uncomfortable and therefore we become more aware of the nudity. This is different from the arrousal from the sexual stimuli of the image, though for some the two become interwoven. That is a whole different issue though, and not, I feel, for this forum:)
     
  85. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Fred, when males start talking about the power and the glory of female nudes, it doesn't make me immediately think, "oh, yeah, they're intellectuals and studied and aesthetic." I see males talking about the beauty of photographs of naked women especially when all the examples are of young women, with the exception of what your work.
    Julie was witty about her comments; Zoe melted down and left; and I'm getting cross when you pull this third rate ad hominem dismissal. Does anyone wonder why the women are over in the bridal group?
    If the guys want to talk about the pleasure they get from photographs of nudes, perhaps the women should just wait outside.
    Power and glory go with politics and churches and Graham Greene novels. Words have associations -- mine are for the Graham Greene novel.
     
  86. Rebecca, I'm glad you're getting cross. You should be cross. Maybe it will make you read more carefully. You're not the girl here. You're a participant. And we're not the good ol' boys. We're flesh and blood, just like you. If you PRICK us, we bleed.
    Josh said clearly he's talking about nudes, not "female" nudes. Since I've posed nude for AND been naked in front of Josh on several occasions, I know he's talking more broadly than you seem to be willing to give him credit for. He's also intimately familiar with my own male nudes as well as the male nudes of many photographers and that informs his understanding as well. You are not listening. You're hearing what you want to argue against. You're making it up as you go along. Your attacks, your willful misunderstanding and false characterizations of what people are saying throughout this thread are as ad hominem as mine admittedly are. You deserve the return fire.
    You know quite well that I'd get on the case and have gotten on guys' cases when I think they're pulling the same crap I think you're pulling here. So go over to the Bridal Group if that suits your sensibility, but you know damn well I'm not singling you out as a woman or because you're offering a woman's perspective. I'm singling you out because you're being disingenuous, you're misquoting people and misrepresenting what they've said, and you're not listening.
    Josh and I are not talking primarily about "pleasure" we get from photographs of nudes (though I wouldn't deny a pleasure factor in some nudes). You yourself talked about Matt Bomer's pecs and your liking to watch and I don't reduce your stand here to "Rebecca's objectifying pleasure of the male torso".
    As regards pleasure, please understand that people get some pleasure from looking at nudes . . . and I know you can because you've hypocritically stated you do.
     
  87. Fred,
    You're going to have to work really hard to convince me that a 6'5" 200+ pound man knows what it's like to be 110 in a tits and ass society. Rebecca's comments seem to me to be more or less right on target -- with allowance for her usual style of commenting (and I make the same kind of allowance for you -- as I'm sure you do for me and other frequent posters).
    As Rebecca has pointed out, the title of this thread is problematic for women. "Power" equates to violence (and glory comes from power). Power/violence, for women, is the shadow of sex in this society. Men may say that a nude picture is not about sex -- but its their choice, and women have very, very good reasons not to believe them. I doubt very much that this or any discussion can or should override what experience has taught women. If that's going to happen, it will be in actions, not words.
    Having said all that, I offer two pictures for discussion. First is one that, for me, is illustrative in an amusing way:
    http://www.c4fap.org/exhibitions/2008ArtfulNude/images/20080220174721a.jpg
    Second one is to work from Rebecca's point about the age of models:
    http://www.joanmyers.com/Wom7.htm
    What difference do you think it makes that the last (second) one is nude? In what way would the picture be different if she were clothed?
     
  88. Julie, let me introduce myself. I'm Fred. I'm not the "6'5" 200+ pound male" you've abstracted or reduced me to. Pleased to meet you.
    If I had said I know what it's like to be 110 lb. woman or even suggested it, I'd apologize, because I'd be ashamed of myself for doing that. Luckily I haven't done it. At least not intentionally. I allow for the possibility that I've done it unintentionally. If you think I have, please supply the paragraph and quote where I did and let's discuss it. These abstract claims about what I've done and whose perspective I've adopted aren't persuasive. I have a hard enough time maintaining a "male" perspective, let alone trying to adopt a female one. I'm aware that empathy or my attempts at it only carry me so far.
    As for my size, I question its relevance. Though it probably has kept predators away because a tall guy can appear more imposing than a short female, in the real world it's had good results but with many qualifications. For much of my life I was called a sissy. Through Junior High and High School my big brother and my father had to run interference for me. Nevertheless I was beaten up several times. It's happened a couple of times since I've been an adult. My size hasn't helped a whole lot on that front since I'm not terribly adept at using it in a physically defensive (or offensive) manner. My tongue, on the other hand, is know to get sharp. Moving to San Francisco provides somewhat of an insular home from such violence, though even my own liberal state recently took away my right to marry the man I love. Mind you, I'm not playing victim competition here. Hate that game. And I don't doubt that many women (and men) have had it worse than my middle class, white, male upbringing has allowed me. I'm describing who I am in the hopes you'll stop stereotyping and, in that sense, objectifying me.
    I agree with you, "men may say that a nude picture is not about sex." Why are you addressing that to me? I've said several times in this thread that I think nudes (certainly the ones I do) can have a strong sexual component, either in the making or in the photograph itself. You, like Rebecca, are confusing me with the stereotyped male you're upset with. It's hard to have a discussion when I'm being addressed as some generic male robot you've created instead of the guy sitting here at the keyboard. You seem not to be aware of my actual words.
     
  89. in a tits and ass society.​
    Society is probably a bit more complex, but Franck CJ Macky ( Magnolia ) would certainly agree about that one. Oh the power and the glory about seduction and destruction.
     
  90. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Julie, forget the email. I have the answer.
    Fred, if the damn title hadn't been so turgid and so full of Catholic liturgy and Graham Green, and if you hadn't assumed that I couldn't possibly have as informed a taste as you, and if the initial question hadn't assumed that I found any nudes of women glorious, this wouldn't seem like possible hostile action against the wimmens. Goldin and Ono are artists for guys who want their women pretty in bruises and tears and cut off bits of clothing. They're not doing art for me. It's very much aimed at men.
    I don't think I can remember any nude of a woman that impressed me as being one of the best photographs I've ever seen, same goes for nude paintings. They're mostly second tier work. Seeing a lot of Renoirs in Philadelphia made it clear that I wasn't the audience for that. If the examples here hadn't been all nubile women, I for one wouldn't feel that the guys were pulling a more sophisticated version of what happens in a number of venues where the guys sexualize the joint to make sure the women know their place.
    Why do women photograph more women nude than guys nude? Because we can't be sure that a nude male model wouldn't use that as an excuse to rape us.
    If I wrote about women with women as I wrote about men with men, I'd have straight guys deciding that I was going to put out for them. My publisher says straight guys get a little squeamish about the male/male sex, so my friends can dig it and I can feel that I won't have straight guys getting all hotted up about my writing and assume that I'm available.
    I'd have to know a guy very very well before I'd photograph him nude, and more likely than not, I'd prefer to photograph a gay guy, not that I haven't had a pass from a gay friend that utterly confounded me. I know that a straight guy who raped me in that setting would get off in a lot of places in this country. Whole thing is very problematic since the guys who would pose nude for women are likely to be people who see nakedness, even their own, as erotic and asking them to pose nude as a sexual invitation. Easier to photograph orchids. They do their thing and I do mine.
    "Hey, let's bring up something the women can't do comfortably without being very careful or already in a relationship with a guy who is willing to pose for her camera. It will prove we are cooler people than the women who just can't take this because they don't have good senses of humor about guys and are anti-sex."
    That's the ungenerous view of what happened here. The generous view is that you didn't think this one through.
     
  91. "Why do women photograph more women nude than guys nude? Because we can't be sure that a nude male model wouldn't use that as an excuse to rape us." ... and ... "I'd have to know a guy very very well before I'd photograph him nude, and more likely than not, I'd prefer to photograph a gay guy, not that I haven't had a pass from a gay friend that utterly confounded me. I know that a straight guy who raped me in that setting would get off in a lot of places in this country. Whole thing is very problematic since the guys who would pose nude for women are likely to be people who see nakedness, even their own, as erotic and asking them to pose nude as a sexual invitation. Easier to photograph orchids. They do their thing and I do mine." (Rebecca)
    Bravo for the bravery of putting that one out there.
    Thanks again for the fish... I've forgotten my towel...
    And the answer to this entire thread is 42.
     
  92. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Zoe, sorry if any of this whole mess was triggering to you. I sent a private email to Julie asking if she thought I was out of line. I've got a friend in SF working on open source and trying to make that community more woman friendly and she's even gotten death threats (no, not all the guys make death threats but the climate and culture around that community is such that guys aren't calling guys on this). Hot button topic for me.
    I know gay guys can be pursued by straight women with sexual obsessions about them. I don't know the frequency and I'm sure it's not pleasant but it doesn't have, except for rare circumstances, the risks that such an obsession would have for a women. Every gay woman, even older women with pictures up, has had at least one guy cruise her from a social site. I have no idea whether the same is true of gay guys with social sites. I think sane reasonable adult straight guys pick up the signals (or the lack of them) and never make passes, so every pass we do get is from someone who decided that his needs and ego were more important than our self definitions.
    Zoe, in some ways, even if this is stepping on your feelings a bit, I think out and out porn can be more transcendent and beautiful than art nudes. It's not often that, though. The esthete pose that artistic nudes aren't really even about eroticism, which is a fancy name for sexually charged stuff upper middle class esthetes like (esthetes is now my trophy word) rather than that nasty porn rednecks drool over.
    The higher better esthetically transcendental work supposedly is something refined and sublime that only a study of Plato and Aristophanes and Aristotle in the Original Greek, written without word breaks and as the ox plows, could possibly help one understand -- mheh, that's was what Oscar Wilde claimed about his relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas -- that it had nothing whatsoever to do with mere sex and everything to do with rarified emotions and pure love of an older man for the promise of a younger one and if one was properly classically educated, one would understand this, and Wilde was lying to stay out of prison. Fred's excuses aren't quite as good.
    Happy to take the bullet on this one, you seemed quite upset. Frankly, I'm not sure I agree with your arguments, but I've been known to get triggered by male aggression myself and lose the plot.
    Julie, again, thanks for the humor and the support.
     
  93. @Rebecca - I don't have time to waste in restating what I've already said in threads when people restate my words and say I mean something totally different than what I stated. Instead of dealing with that I chose to bow out. I was actually laughing at the entire escapade, not having a melt down or upset, it's par for the course. I think the most humorous posting was the accusation I was trying to copy two of the photographers I mentioned as examples of timelessness. That had me rolling. As for porn, to each their own. I've never seen a porno and don't intend to so I can't comment on it's perceived beauty. I didn't think we were talking about pornography in this thread, I came from the notion we were talking about art nudes, so that's the only genre I've been speaking about. ;) Meow. Z
     
  94. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    I'm not sure I believe that art nudes are different from the best porn. I recommend this essay: http://www.personism.com/works-by-frank-ohara/personism/ to you. ;) O'Hara studied music and went to Harvard and University of Michigan for his Masters so these are not sour grapes he's expressing.
    My favorite bit, which I think applies to too many artists in any number of media:
    But how then can you really care if anybody gets it, or gets what it means, or if it improves them. Improves them for what? For death? Why hurry them along? Too many poets act like a middle-aged mother trying to get her kids to eat too much cooked meat, and potatoes with drippings (tears). I don’t give a damn whether they eat or not. Forced feeding leads to excessive thinness (effete). Nobody should experience anything they don’t need to, if they don’t need poetry bully for them.​
     
  95. Zoe typed: "I think the most humorous posting was the accusation I was trying to copy two of the photographers I mentioned as examples of timelessness. That had me rolling."
    Zoe can roll and laugh her way to self-righteous oblivion, but she missed the point. I never suggested, let alone accused, she was trying to copy anyone. I've never even looked at her pictures.
    All I was saying is that consciousness itself, the way we see things, is timestamped, whether with photographing landscapes, adwork, fashion -- or nudes.
    Brigman's and Man Ray's work belongs to a certain era, and that is why it cannot be copied (besides the fact that it is their own work). Amusing as it might be to her, and apparently reinforcing to her stereotyping, I never suggested she was copying anyone. Rhetorical "you", nothing more.
    _____________________________________
    This thread, in spite of its title and the outcome, had potential for insightful discussions on the nude. Rebecca, Zoe and Julie, we're far from perfect, but do not wish you will, nor are we (consciously) your enemy.
    [Geezus, that sounds like what one might say when meeting an alien race]
     
  96. "Geezus, that sounds like what one might say when meeting an alien race." -- Luis
    We know you're out there, no matter how clever your disguise.
    [​IMG]
    [Fred: Peace. I've said what I want to say; not very well, but that's as far as I'll go on this topic.]
     
  97. "that's as far as I'll go on this topic."
    Julie, I do understand your not wanting to take it further. I can see why anyone would think we've had enough here. At the same time, it is difficult to stomach accusations you've made about me personally when, having asked for specific citations of my words, you prefer to let it rest. It leaves those accusations hanging in the air with a stench.
     
  98. "and if you hadn't assumed that I couldn't possibly have as informed a taste as you,"
    Rebecca, without a specific citation of where my words questioned your taste, your accusation stinks as well.
     
  99. Rebecca, Zoe and Julie
    Thanks.
     
  100. Lannie, I hope you realize how much you, yourself, are being raked over the coals here for "the power and the glory" wording you initiated. And, by the way, though I don't recommend anyone reading that other thread, I'm sure you'll remember what a hard time I gave you for starting the thread that way back then. It's one of the reasons I didn't go into it this time, preferring not to rehash old business. But I doubt, even had some read my own brutal critique of "power and glory", it would have made a difference, since my dick has cast its shadow over my words here anyway.
     
  101. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Fred, see your post about how an educated person, a true artist, would know that the Power and the Glory were Greek terms referring to esthetic principles. And don't bother to email me and I won't bother to email you.
    You're not a "good person." There are no "bad people" either. There are just people, but some of them are male and some of them are female. Wanting males to be seen as free and unique individuals, well, sorry, guys can be guys at times, straight and gay.
    You are insensitive to how women feel about topics like this, or why at least some women get a bit annoyed with men whose favorite women artists were self-mutilating or suicidal or geishas with patrons or some even more famous male artist's wife. I've seen so much of this in my life. The individuals calling the men out don't agree on the specifics (I write literary s.f. porn; Zoe does art nudes; Julie shoots birds and makes collages), but we're clear that the questions asked were, at best, expressions of a fabulous sort of staggering cluelessness. "Let's ask the women why they don't photograph nude males."
    None of you had a clue? Honestly?
    You've got individuals who are radically different, who made very different life choices, agreeing with each other that the topic turned fairly creepy fairly fast (not as creepy as the earlier thread). I don't even believe the feminist cliche that women cooperate; men compete. If the three of us agree on something, you guys are the ones who need to figure this out. Zoe gave you some urls. Julie gave you some urls. I told you to look at what you said.
    Personally, I think if any of the guys wants more women in this forum, it's because they expect that women will be wonderful little handmaidens flattered by cliched attention that's actually quite condescending ("you remind me of students," "it's wonderful and scary to jump into a new creative phase," etc., etc.).
    Like Julie, I don't really think there's more for me to discuss. If men can't get this by now, it's because they don't want to get it.
     
  102. Thanks for writing, Fred. As I said way back then, I really never thought of either Graham Greene or the Lord's Prayer when choosing the title, notwithstanding the biblical origins of the phrase. I had (in the spring of 2009) been listening to a Phil Ochs song of the same title, and it stuck in my mind. It was quite a patriotic song, but in a benign sense of "patriotic"without all the military bombast of the "Star-spangled Banner": "This is a land full of power and glory, beauty that words cannot recall. . . ."
    So, in the context of that line by Ochs, nudity was really for me ultimately about beauty--and the power that beauty has over us, quite apart from the power that sex has over us, although they are very difficult to factor out in the nude, and I would not want to bother to try on this thread, nor always in life. Sex and nudity are certainly conceptually distinct. Surely everyone can agree on that, even those who insist tht persons always look at nudes for sexual gratification (a point of view that I would still hotly contest).
    All of this is related to our last point of contention on that May, 2009 thread. As you will recall, I had said that questions of sexual ethics were the most compelling of all, and you correctly reminded me of genocide, war, etc. The point, however, was that sexual ethics broadly defined to include all choices and sexual issues involving romance do hit us as hard as, or even harder at times, than those dealing with life itself. Thus do we hear of persons committing murder or suicide over failed romances. I offer these few remarks not to re-open that discussion so much as to try to explain myself, since you made some powerful points. I am sorry that the original thread was closed before we worked through our differences.
    In any case, it is interesting to see what tends to flare up as a point of contention on a thread. One can never predict that, and especially not when such controversial issues are being discussed.
    As for the question of this thread, I did go back and look at the Jim Phelps folder, and it occurred to me to compare these photos of the same model:
    http://www.photo.net/photo/10535613
    http://www.photo.net/photo/10522661
    http://www.photo.net/photo/8937273
    The last shows the least (in terms of the most commonly ogled body parts) but is the most "naked" of these various nudes to me--but perceptions of nakedness are very subjective, and not everyone would agree.
    I do think that the proximity of the model in the last photo above is a factor in her appearing more naked, combined wtih her air of casual insouciance that I have previously mentioned. She appears literally in the face (and almost in the arms) of the photographer or the viewer, suggesting that even physical distance can play a role in perceptions of nakedness. As for the first two photos linked above, if they were taken or processed in B&W, they would likely appear even less naked to my eye. There are other variables that affect perception, but these come immediately to mind. None of this is to suggest that Jim Phelps had anything like my thoughts in mind while making or processing the photos.
    I would tentatively conclude that the fine art nude is often portrayed in certain ways for a reason: a sense of psychological distance, which allows for a greater opportunity to appreciate a work esthetically rather than "merely" sensually or sexually. The fine art nude is thus typically (1) done in black and white, (2) done with the model not looking at the artist (the examples of the two Manet paintings being powerful counter-examples), (3) done with a lack of expression or even lack of "attitude" on the part of the model, and (4) done with a sense of some physical distance in many cases. There are many possible reasons for the use of these techniques in portraying the fine art nude, but one reason might be that there are fewer distractions when models are portrayed in such a manner--distractions which can tend to move one back in the direction of sexual interest. That potentiality for further sexual interest and attention (unwanted or not) is always there, of course, and not merely for the nude model. (To Julie I would suggest that even the chicken in a bathing suit--and not merely a plucked one--might make one think of "dinner." The idea of "devouring" a woman with one's eyes or "undressing her with one's eyes" comes to mind. It is not hard to see why women often are not sure whether they are being viewed as potential prey of one sort or another. Clothes are in any case frail armor against such threats, I fear, and no man with any imagination is much deterred by mere textile barriers, which in many cases are designed to accentuate that which is sexually interesting, not designed at all, that is, to cover it up.)
    As for this thread in general, I have (most of the time) enjoyed the various digressions, but the original question is still with me. I do think that it is a legitimate question for anyone pondering the artistic value of the nude.
    I also want to reaffirm that I think that we do well to consider what contributes to the appreciation of the nude as an art form--which is not to make any claim that my own observations are correct. Art without the nude would have lost something wonderful, powerful, and, yes, even glorious, at least to my mind. The question for me is how we keep the portrayal and perception of the nude on the high road--but that last point reflects my continuing interest in the ethics of sexuality, as well as my own belief systems and acculturation.
    Thanks again for writing. If I do not respond to you or other who write back, it means that I am going to try to escape this computer screen for most of the rest of the weekend.
    --Lannie
     
  103. "a sense of psychological distance, which allows for a greater opportunity to appreciate a work esthetically rather than "merely" sensually or sexually." --Lannie
    Lannie
    , you and I have always had different views about what is aesthetic. The notion that "psychological distance
    . . . allows for a greater opportunity to appreciate a work aesthetically" may have been posed by some historic thinkers, but it's foreign to my own way of appreciating works of art or photographs, fine art nudes or otherwise.
     
  104. Lannie,
    I take issue with the statement that fine art nudes are typically done in black and white.
    This was true of all fine art photography up until the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, when color film was finally developed to the point it could accurately reproduce color. After this, it started to develop (and is still developing) as a fine art medium (as exemplified by the Eagleston color Exhibit at the MOMA in the mid 1970’s). Color has been used by several fine art nude photographers in the last 20 years, and it’s use is growing. One should recall that the color fine art nude has been around since the renaissance (see for example "La maja desnuda" by Goya in the Prado , “Venus and Adonis” by Vecellio, and “Venus and the Lute Player” by Titian).
    I would also suggest that you should define what you mean by more “naked”. Do you mean that the image/model is more sexual/erotic?
    Jim Phelps
     
  105. Rebecca, thanks for supplying the quote. It shows me that you did in fact misunderstand what I said. Here's the quote, which was clearly in response to your comment on Josh's use of the word "beauty."
    "Any studied person, academic or aesthetic, artist, Greek scholar, or just well read, knows that when one speaks of 'great beauty' that is different than what you are taking to be the much more mundane and superficial use where it would refer to a beautiful person." --Rebecca
    This can't be read as my questioning your taste. It's about your pinning a very superficial understanding of the word "beauty" onto Josh's use of the word.
    I also didn't question your taste around Nan Goldin or Yoko Ono. I've spoken to many people who I am not surprised don't like their work at all. I completely understand. I'd be surprised if most people liked their stuff. The only thing I questioned you about were your projections about why Yoko Ono got together with John Lennon. That's not about taste.
     
  106. Lannie, In the spirit of your original post, as i see it(i gave no thought to the baggage attached to 'power and glory'. words I like. Phil Ochs I like.) I believed the question would obscure the answer(s).
    I finally took some time to graze the original post of last May. I was lazy and avoided it before posting here. For those of us that picked it up here I think we were not privy to the amount of territory and baggage that may have carried over. It does skew my perception of some of the posts here. Anyway I will continue from the face of what I read here.
    "...the original question is still with me." I think you and others have covered , uncovered many of the ingredients that go into the recipe. The final product is all of the above. The formula may be elusive and even moreso if we seek consensus. You have mapped out some of the elements that move you to discern naked from 'fine art nude'. I believe they are insightful observations. Of course there are so many exceptions that it becomes very convoluted. even difficult to acknowledge without qualifications.
    Even suggesting a segregation of naked and art nude is problematic for me. but in the spirit of common ground with those who would separate the labels I can understand that there is often a distinction used. Many of the reasons to categorize naked and fine art nude are so within ourselves individually that formulas for creation or understanding of a fine art nude or naked photo are very elusive. Go generic? Go with what was or is generally acceptable? Or as you are Lannie, begin to question and comprehend the differences for ourselves and our viewers. I appreciate that.
    The answer may lie in the details of the nuts and bolts but more I think in the self reflection as you obviously are being generous with. What makes us as individuals feel naked 'naked to the world'. When I mentioned giving over my camera to a model or anyone to photograph me (and the result is rarely how I see myself and never naked) without clothes they most often create something much more flattering than i do when I photograph myself. When I photograph myself I appear more naked .... vulnerable and or revelatory.
    At what point do we began to feel sexual stirrings when viewing a nude or feeling repelled. I know when I do, I know from experience when many viewers will. When does sensual become sexual? Has a line been crossed at that point? can't be 'art' once that line is crossed. and as for being naked I also know when I feel someone is naked but what a foggy line that often is. and of course some photos straddle the line. viewers choice. Fred has a photo of a man taking a smoke break on the roof. The guy is so naked and it is clearly an art nude in my eye. Not intentionally pretty or flattering but I find it beautiful and powerful. Which category does it belong to? snapshot. . fine art nude. middle age naked man contemporary study. gentle or abrasive or ineffectual? Oh the power and glory of it. all. But the question of what makes it naked is fairly easy to gleen imo. But are we starting on the same page? It's in color, no eye contact, some physical distance. and yet it is in the details. next time those details are going to add up differently.
    What are commonly labeled 'Art nudes' are generally (imo) more flattering to the model and to my eye generic. 'Naked'(?) photos tend to delve deeper into what makes this person an individual or what it means to be human including being what we may consider flaws. Expose... and in doing so the photographer may risk taking advantage of the individual model, or even the gender. That observation, my observation is rooted when I adhere to what I have found to be the common usage of the labels. Exceptions abound and I don't abide, subscribe to that for myself (only when i consider viewers response). I am much more liberal in label usage in front of or behind the camera and as a viewer. I like to often create naked photographs with or without clothes in the equation. I know we are only discussing being without clothes tho.
    As I just made obvious, art nudes and naked photos can be very different for me than others.
    Lannie you have interestingly provided a good insight into the details of your take on the differences. For me the details are of a nature that until weighed against the final image the answer is far to elusive. Even obscured by the question for many. I would prefer not to use Jim Phelps photos even with his permission because I don't find the significant difference you have. Feel free reach into my gallery for photo examples. I am comfortable in dissecting the details of a photo as being naked... or less naked.
     
  107. "vulnerable and or revelatory" --Josh Dunham Wood​
    Josh, your two words are remarkably close to the two terms that were running through my mind when trying to define "naked" after Jim Phelps posted just above. I had been thinking "revealing and vulnerable."
    Before I go further in this vein, however, please remember that I went back to Jim's work to find other examples of pictures of the very same model: Rebecca. That has not given me the best or largest data base for testing perceptions, even my own, but it gave me one constant: the model was the same in all three pictures. If I perceived her as more or less "revealing and vulnerable" in one photo than another, why would I do so? Has something in her pose, demeanor, or expression changed from photo to photo? Has something of a technical nature (distance, color v. black and white, soft focus, DOF, etc.) also changed? Has something in myself (fatigue, hormone levels, dullness, insightfulness) changed? Clearly this is complicated territory, and I recognized all too well at the beginning that the two words "nude" and "naked" were not quite going to support the weight that might be placed upon them--but I stayed with them because I assumed that Robert Graves was onto something in his poem "The Naked and the Nude." Thus did I cast my first feeble reflections into the public domain of a forum, since it was clear that my own conceptualization of the intellectual problem was either flawed or inadequate, or both. I am glad that at least a few of you can see it as a genuine intellectual problem, not an existential dilemma or sign of depravity or manifestation of the threatening "male gaze." I expected to be misunderstood, of course, all the more because I was not clear--could not be clear, given my own level of understanding or misunderstanding. As a social theorist, I have thought a great deal about cultural and ethical relavitism, but until I saw the picture of Rebecca anew for the first time in months did it occur to me to question why I perceived her as I did. She was naked, but she was not naked--compared to other pictures. She was a nude, but she (in that shot) could also have been a person in a swimsuit. At one moment she was just a pretty girl sitting there. The next moment she was quite obviously inviting. What was obvious was that my own perceptions moved around too much to be able to come up with much that had predictive or explanatory value. There was no sense of formality and distance, such as one finds in the nude as characterized by Robert Graves in "The Naked and the Nude."
    Herein lay the original dilemma, or perhaps it is more of a paradox: the original photo of Rebecca (linked at the outset) that I found most revealing and vulnerable of the three did not in fact meet the criterion of "revealing" in the sense of showing more breasts, buttocks, etc. Nor did she appear particularly psychologically vulnerable in the original shot--she was, after all, quite bold in her look into the camera. At the same time, I am not sure that I had any greater sense of her being more "sexy" or "erotic" in that shot than in others.
    All of that is as much as to admit that the answers are not only elusive, but that the questions are as well. My own reactions have moved around sufficiently to indicate to me that our varying personal perceptions vary depending on our own moods more than on what is actually displayed in the photos. I hate to retreat into subjectivism in such a way, but the fact is that it turned out to be subjective perceptions that I have been most concerned with--and equally at a loss to understand.
    I will also be the first to confess that my brief listing of characteristics of the nude qua nude is both inadequate and inaccurate. There is an element of truth in saying that "black and white conveys more social or emotional distance than color," I suppose, but at that point one is as much as admitting that one has probably been talking more about formality v. informality than about nudity v. nakedness (which was hardly ever meant to be a dichotomy in the first place--they are hardly opposites, after all).
    Wittgenstein's remarks on "family resemblances" in language and meaning also came to mind when I tried to nail down meanings of words having such potentially great erotic force. How much more problematic meaning is when one is talking of perceptions, which vary from person to person and within the same person across time!
    There are certainly words that might have erotic connotations that are not totally irrelevant to the conversation, such as "open," "appealing," "approchable," and the like. The formal nude to me, for example, is not particularly approachable. Rebecca sitting on the table with glasses and lip gloss was approachable--whether sexually or socially. She even seemed "friendlier," if that makes any sense.
    I did peruse your own photos and they are beautifully done. For showing strongly contrasting conceptions they might have been better, but I chose to go back to Rebecca because I could expect more nuanced variations in my own perceptions when staying with one model.
    In any case, none of the concepts or typologies or definitions that I have come up with seems up to the task. I expected the problem to be redefined, but not necessarily hijacked into an assault on males for looking at women or for asking penetrating (gasp!) questions: persons bring the baggage that has been imporant in their own lives into such conversations. I am not blasting the feminists. I am simply sayiing that I did not foresee that tack being taken, if only because it never had in the much longer run of the original and more controversial "The Power and the Glory" thread of last May and June, which ran for weeks before being closed.
    It came to me finally that what has driven me to post twice on related topics under the same essential title is not only a continuing quandary about the power of the nude image over most (or at least many) of us, but also why there are some persons and some cultures where that does not seem to be so obviously the case: they are remarkly blasé about such matters in a way that I can never be.
    I will close this unfortunate post rather than ramble on this fashion, since by now I presume that you get the idea: I haven't the foggiest idea what the answer is to my own question. I am still struggling with the question--and just now getting a glimmer as to what made me want to start asking these questions in the first place last May.
    Jim, if you are reading, I hope that I have addressed your questions as well.
    --Lannie
     
  108. "...For showing strongly contrasting conceptions they (my nudes, josh ) might have been better, but I chose to go back to Rebecca because I could expect more nuanced variations in my own perceptions when staying with one model." good distinction Lannie. "In any case, none of the concepts or typologies or definitions that I have come up with seems up to the task."
    Perhaps exploring the obvious would have merit.
    I often consider the obvious, blatancy or the cliche on the road to developing and refining my take on nuance. If you think that as a further exploration that looking at strong contrasts might be of interest and informative for considering nuance I would be happy to arrange my nudes by model. Of the 20ish nudes I have posted there are 6 models (and a nude mannequin) - 4 models are presented 3 to 6 times ea. I know you're busy Lannie but the offer is good anytime...
     
  109. Lannie and Josh, thanks for getting back to it.
    The viewer's subjective response comes up often. No matter how much I understand this, I come back to the photographer as the one who puts it out there. The photographer has tools, symbols, effects, communicative gestures at his disposal. These are significant to a viewer's reaction.
    I don't include penises in my photos lightly. I have taken many more pictures of nude/naked men without showing a penis in the final photo. As strong a symbol as a penis can be in the photo, there's also a kind of vulnerability the exposed penis may create that often, for me, is limited to the shooting, never intended to be seen by the viewer. In those cases, a different kind of vulnerability may be evident in the photo. It may start with the penis but end up as a facial expression in what becomes just a bust shot. The viewer is not privy to all the information available at the time of shooting and that can allow for a less literal and, therefore, more metaphorical and possibly richer emotional reaction to what the viewer actually does get to see in the photograph.
    Often, too much emphasis is given to the viewer's subjectivity. The photographer has more of an impact than many viewers give him/her credit for. Even when the ultimate reaction feels subjective and personal, the immediate response to the photo is often set because of choices a photographer has made.
    I often feel more responsibility when shooting nudes than when shooting other type photos. That, for me, provides an edge. There are lines that can be crossed or that I probably wouldn't cross and I can play with those lines. I tempt myself.
    We haven't talked about desire and temptation much. I am often motivated by each and my subjects often express such motivations, even when the result is a type of "fine art nude". Having posed naked for photographs on several occasions, I can tell you I don't mind feeling like or seeming to others like a piece of meat. Sometimes (only sometimes) it happens. Hitchcock claimed his actors and actresses were cattle. I understand his point, from both photographer's point of view and subject's point of view. When I attended an interview with Tippi Hedren (The Birds, Marnie), she recalled being none-too-thrilled with Hitchcock's advances toward and treatment of her. She also recognized his genius and the part she and the other actors played in that.
    These ethical questions are not easy to answer. Was Hitchcock "bad"? Being "a good person" came up in this thread earlier. I think some "badness" can creep into nude/naked art and I think some badness is blatant and deplorable. There are all kinds of judgments made from within and without, by the artists, the subjects, and the viewer. I expect that neither my subjects nor I are terribly wholesome, in a traditional way. I celebrate that. It's why some of the connotations of the word "glory" bother me in this context. Sure, my body and the bodies of my subjects are a temple. I can feel that palpably. And then I can turn around and in a moment's notice feel those same bodies writhing in a Boschlike orgy or lying bleeding in the streets . . . naked, tattered, and exposed.
     
  110. S J Goffredi , Apr 23, 2010; 11:03 a.m. "I think therefore, the reason some nudes appear more naked is due to the level of
    intimacy and discomfort we feel when viewing the image" - "The voyeristic sensation can be uncomfortable and therefore we
    become more aware of the nudity. This is different from the arrousal from the sexual stimuli of the image, though for some the
    two become interwoven."
    .


    Very solid points SJ.
    intimacy, privacy, comfort level and voyeurism are often part of the equation in my take of the differences and my
    considerations of applying a label. But also part of where the power for expression finds root.
     
  111. Fred, the question that I raised was about perception, not about how to evoke (or avoid evoking) a certain reaction in the viewer as the photographer. It is, after all, not a great leap from being aware of one's power as a photographer to being tempted to use that power in a potentially manipulative way--none of which is to suggest that you are trying to manipulate the viewer through your own photography. I understand that you are still concerned with perception as well:
    The viewer's subjective response comes up often. No matter how much I understand this, I come back to the photographer as the one who puts it out there. . . . I often feel more responsibility when shooting nudes than when shooting other type photos. That, for me, provides an edge. There are lines that can be crossed or that I probably wouldn't cross and I can play with those lines. (Emphasis supplied.)​
    Fred, those remarks in and of themselves do not sound in the least manipulative. Indeed, I do get a strong sense of ethical responsibility in your work. That is admirable, but my remarks are not about your responsibility or lack thereof, but about certain possible differences between some of your shots and my less intimate or even non-intimate shots of old houses, landscapes, etc. I can at best convey my nostalgia over the past when I see old houses in disrepair, or my awe at the power and majesty of nature or nature's God--and conceivably some sense of spirituality and transcendence that one can feel when in the middle of a wilderness experience. In general, however, there is no particular emotion that I am trying to evoke (or convey) through my work. As I have had to concede in discussions on long-ago threads, photographing nature is not about primarily (if at all) about intimacy, or at least not the kind of intimacy that you seek to convey and evoke in your portraiture.
    In other words, when I shoot my traditional (admittedly more prosaic) subjects, especially those that are in or tend toward nature photography or toward old houses (which are quickly going back toward nature), I fortunately do not have to think about the viewer's response. There are very few if any ethical quandaries to be faced when doing that kind of work. I simply offer my own vision of what is beautiful or interesting, and I am pleased to share it with others who may or may not share my own perception. I like to see cracks appearing in sidewalks, even to see the grass pushing up in those cracks, or to see the roots of a tree slowly destroying that sidewalk--out of love of nature, not out of any love of destruction. I love old houses in disrepair, not just out of nostalgia for the past, but in anticipation of the imminent triumph of nature over "civilization" once again. The romantic in me glories in the return to nature, and in the enduring power of nature in comparison with the temporal nature of all human edifices.
    I think also that what there is of "glory" in the nude is likewise about the glory of nature. Yet here I am engaged in this most artificial of exercises: photography. I should be out hiking through the mountains. But again I digress. . . .
    The point is that I shoot primarily to please myself, even though I do want to share what I see with others--and I enjoy their feedback. I had assumed that the same considerations applied to those who did figure studies/nudes; that is, that they do photography to please their own eye. I am still assuming that most do. What you are saying, Fred, suggests the possibility that a very different approach to deciding what goes into the photo inevitably arises when one does figure studies--or any kind of photography where one may in fact evoke a strong sense of intimacy or other emotional response in the viewer. Yes, I know that the photographer has some obvious power, but what I think that I might be hearing is more awareness on your part of the control (frightful word) that you can or could exercise through your role as photographer. Perhaps I have misread, or read something into your remark that is not there. In any case, none of this is by way of criticizing your own work. I am simply registering my surprise at your remark quoted above: "The viewer's subjective response comes up often. No matter how much I understand this, I come back to the photographer as the one who puts it out there. . . . " I am not so much challenging the last part, set off in italics. I am simply surprised by it, by how emphatic and absolute it sounds, as one can be surprised by a sudden insight, and it occurs to me to wonder where it may lead once one has recognized the power that one presumably wields as photographer, on your view. I do not have a sense of such power in my own work. So be it.
    From what you are saying, I am assuming that figure studies and some portraiture put you much more consciously in consideration of the impact of your photos on others--sometimes not to offend them, more often to think about whether you are conveying your own sense of intimacy to the viewer. I am basing that statement on your previous writings about intimacy on this thread, as well as your existing thread on the ethics of photography.
    In the case of a nude, whether by Jim Phelps or Helmut Newton, I am beginning to get a glimmer of potentialities that I had not imagined--for photographers. (Porn is quite another thing. Even I have long ago seen that porn clearly is intended, even engineered, to evoke a particular response, a powerful visceral one--typically for commercial purposes. Porn to me is about what I can only call an attempt at "soul control.") I frankly had not thought about the simple (and dare I say "wholesome"?) nude in general as trying to do the same thing, nor about the degree of power of the photographer in trying to evoke a response from the viewer. I had, as I said, simply imagined that those who did figure studies were sharing their conceptions of the beautiful or the merely interesting. The nudes that I like typically have a very wholesome quality. If they do not, I quickly turn the page--well, usually, anyway. I am human and am not here to lobby for sainthood. Yet again, however, I digress, and I do not want to get into it with the feminists who insist that there is nothing wholesome about nude photography--or about viewing the artistic nude, whether in painting or in photography. Nor do I care to duke it out with them about the purity of my motives. My motives can be--and are--all over the place, both in what I view, and in how I respond to it. I am human. I am not ashamed of that, although I am impelled to want to be more than merely human, much less to be more than (in Nietzsche's powerful phrase) "all too human." Ethics and the quest for spiritual integrity impel me to want to be better than I am, not to deny what I am. I know that I am imperfect. I am yet moved by the words attributed to Jesus of Nazareth: "Be ye perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect." (I will let you know when I get there.) In spite of my obvious imperfections, however, I yet find the esthetic power of the nude to be [generally] greater when the erotic power is more subdued--with some very important exceptions which I have seen on this site and others.
    Indeed, the photo of Rebecca which has been central to this thread ( http://www.photo.net/photo/8937273 ) is appealing to me in part because of its seeming inherent contradictions. She is, as I have said, naked but not naked at once--again in comparison with what might have been shown, and what is shown in the Rebecca folder on Jim Phelps page. She has the look of the wholesome "girl next door" who just happens to be as sexy as she can be. The other photos that I linked to her (again by Jim, in his "Rebecca" folder) put some more distance between her and the viewer. The constant throughout all her pictures (for me, at least) is yet her sense of wholesomeness. Whether the photo or the pose is more obviously sexy or not, that is, her sense of wholesomeness remains. I presume that that accounts in part for her success as a model. Again, one is speaking of perceptions, not necessarily reality. The reality is unknowable to us who see only her pictures. She projects an image of wholesomeness in her image, in any case. The photographer can perhaps change that to some degree, but I suspect that her look of wide-eyed innocence would tend to remain--unless she chose to change it. That she is capable of narrowing her eyes in the face of the too aggressive "male gaze" I do not doubt. Her potential anger in the face of the disingenuous attempt to seduce (or even to ogle in the name of "art appreciation") I can only imagine. As she appears in the photos cited, however, she looks friendly and approachable, not suspicious or hostile. If there is malice in that heart, it does not show through the eyes.
    In any case, I am skeptical of the power of the photographer to take very much of that away from her--especially without her consent. There is more to be said, but this post has rambled on far too long already.
    I really do not quite know where to go with further speculation on this until I have from you and others who sometimes do figure studies. These are just some idle--and wandering--thoughts that come to mind on a Sunday morning after reviewing last night's posts.
    Fred, I look forward to any response by you, Josh, or any others who do figure studies or other types of nude photography. I am sure that you have given a lot more serious thought to matters that had not even occurred to me--or at least which had not previously made much of an impact. If I do not get back to you, it does not mean that your comments have been deemed unworthy, simply that at my back I hear Time's winged chariot drawing near. . . .
    Andrew Marvell, where are you when we need you, exploder of myth, pretense, and hypocrisy? This thread cries out for redemption--or destruction. I do not believe that it is immortal, anymore than the first one was. In the case of this thread, however, I anticipate a natural death, not a murder. People will at some point simply become bored with it.
    --Lannie
     
  112. "The photographer can perhaps change that to some degree, but I suspect that her look of wide-eyed innocence would tend to remain"
    Lannie, I've seen what lighting can do. Yes, many photographers will seek the "essence" of a subject but a photographer can also play against type. I could sit below her and shoot Rebecca standing in a strong light also coming from below which would cast strong shadows on her body and under her eyes, projecting a looming shadow onto the wall behind her. My guess is you'd have a very different reaction to the woman you're seeing. While I often capture the truth of a subject, that truth is a photographic truth as well. The heavily shadowed, monstrous photo that could emerge from the foregoing setup may be extreme, and perhaps even a lie, but a lie in the service of a vision, a vision which is its own truth.* Presumably, Rebecca is more multi-dimensional than what any of us reads into her from a few photos by a single photographer. There are additional, even subtle techniques (blur, contrast, color, how catch lights in her eyes fall) any photographer can use to affect appearance. The innocence she and Jim have portrayed could actually be more the manipulation than my suggested vision.
    *If Rebecca asked me not to show that photo to people, I might try to convince her otherwise but would accede to her desires.
    "It is, after all, not a great leap from being aware of one's power as a photographer to being tempted to use that power in a potentially manipulative way"
    "Manipulation" often has a negative connotation and it doesn't have to. I present as much as I represent. What is creation if not a manipulation of raw materials into something fresh and new, something expressive and, at best, transcending. I can manipulate a scene or a person's likeness to express something genuine about my subject, myself, a combination of the two, or even about humanity in general and I can do so in an ethical and responsible way.
    "I am simply registering my surprise at your remark quoted above: "The viewer's subjective response comes up often. No matter how much I understand this, I come back to the photographer as the one who puts it out there. . . . " I am not so much challenging the last part, set off in italics. I am simply surprised by it, by how emphatic and absolute it sounds"
    I rarely speak in absolutes so I hope you won't take it that way. I just meant to emphasize it because it hadn't been said. I don't photograph for the viewer. I am expressing myself. And, often my subject is expressing something significant I want to work with. But, I do consider that I am expressing to and communicating with a viewer. So, while I am not trying to please a viewer and not really modulating for that viewer, I work with an awareness of a viewer. It helps me express and communicate.
    "My motives can be--and are--all over the place, both in what I view, and in how I respond to it."
    Me too, including when I'm making a photograph. I think about catharsis and art. The way I do things transforms from what may seem a mundane definition to a new definition, perhaps a transcending definition/feeling. I do sometimes objectify my subjects. That's an exploration of a genuine reality I feel. Unconscious objectification can be really inhuman. Conscious objectification, self-awareness, can allow something to grow out of the objectification, to transcend it, and move to a deeper level. Also, sometimes my motives are sexually driven and sometimes I've been motivated by what might be considered voyeurism. Good for me. [See Josh's and SJ's insightful comments on voyeurism.] If I can channel that energy into a compelling photograph and find something worthwhile to express, find something through those feelings that captures a part of my subject that is significant, and speak to a viewer in the process, what the hell?
     
  113. Addendum: Lannie, while I know you're concentrating on viewer response, I'm intentionally concentrating on the photographer's end not because I don't want to address viewer response. It's my way of doing so. I think that the more we can say about the photographer's perspective, motivations, and technique the more we might influence the latitude and awareness with which a viewer views and responds to photographs and even views their own responses. The viewer need not be aware of the specific motivation behind every shot, but an awareness of the vast potential, in general, a photographer has for expression and conveyance of a subject, the more opportunity a viewer will have for openness, flexibility, and understanding or empathy in his or her responses . . . if there is a desire for that, of course.
     
  114. "As she appears in the photos cited, however, she looks friendly and approachable, not suspicious or hostile. If there is malice in that heart, it does not show through the eyes.
    In any case, I am skeptical of the power of the photographer to take very much of that away from her--especially without her consent."

    Lannie I would not see it this way. The 'power' or control in the hands and mind of the photographer can be very significant. "... without her consent" does cloudy the equation. I read that as a question of acting... and a shared informed experience between the photographer and model.
    Knowledge of the medium is more often tipped in the photographers direction. exceptions not denied. This carries responsibility, ethics, and 'power' into the arena that many take issue with. The majority of the nudes I have produced have been a surprise to the model. They did not know photography well and could not accurately project the final image. Many times the result was a complete surprise. For me also sometimes. Of course they had an opportunity to see my past work and often see some prelim. polaroids. I could photograph a very gentle approachable human being in a state of aggression, or bitter, or taller, skinnier whatever I chose to do. Yes I use the knowledge I have for the medium and combined with my experiences I sculpt or capture my subjects sometimes with collusion sometimes not. 'power'?
     
  115. Dang this writing stuff is a challenge. For clarity's sake;
    "As she appears in the photos cited, however, she looks friendly and approachable, not suspicious or hostile. If there is malice in that heart, it does not show through the eyes.
    In any case, I am skeptical of the power of the photographer to take very much of that away from her--especially without her consent."
    Lannie I don't see it that same way. I think a photographer does wield power or influence that a model or viewer may not be privy to.
     
  116. I am left wanting a better idea of what is meant by "power", both the photographer's and the subject's, here.
    This is an excerpt from a 1994 interview with Jock Sturges, found in American Suburb X:
    "A pinup asks you to suspend interest in who the person is and occupy yourself entirely with looking at the body, fantasizing about what you could do with that body, completely ignoring how the person might feel about it. People who make pinup photographs don’t care who the woman is, what tragedies or triumphs that person’s life might encompass. My work hopefully works exactly counter to that. My ambition is that you look at the pictures and realize what complex, fascinating, interesting people every single one of my subjects is."
    ...and this, which I found amazingly unique, trust-based, and refreshing:
    "They control their photographs because I don't let them sign model releases. I urge them never to sign a model release for anybody unless they have been paid specifically to do a specific job on a contractual basis, for an advertising agency or something. Who knows how they’re going to change? They might marry a Methodist minister from Minnesota and have a very conservative life. At some point in the future they might decide that these pictures embarrass them. The control shouldn’t be mine, it should be the kids’. "
     
  117. For the record, it should be noted here that several women have photographed male nudes.
    Imogen Cunningham
    Judy Dater
    Robin Shaw
    http://www.robinshaw.net/page17.htm
    Dianora Niccolini
    http://www.barebulb.com/paug03ndi01.php?ImageNumber=NDI01-0012-L&CURRENTGALLERY=LIMITED&GALLERYLOC=
    Vivienne Maricevic (who asks her subjects to masturbate and become erect before photographing them)
    http://nymag.com/nymetro/nightlife/sex/columns/nakedcity/n_8663/
    Laurie Toby Edison
    http://laurietobyedison.com/galleryFM.asp
    http://www.barebulb.com/paug03ndi01.php?ImageNumber=NDI01-0012-L&CURRENTGALLERY=LIMITED&GALLERYLOC=
     
  118. Luis, the quotes and lists are relevant.
    Though I do get releases from my subjects, my commitment is that if a subject changes his/her mind, I accept that and won't use their image. I've only had that happen once. A guy was happy to pose for me and I got one particularly good picture. Though he liked the photo a lot and even asked for a copy, he requested I not show it in public. I won't.
    The power of the nude, as discussed in this thread, ranges from Lannie's questioning about "vulnerability" to Josh's questioning about the "step toward sex" and more to Rebecca's "girl without a brain" to Zoe's "men have dominated the genre" to my own thoughts about "objectification." The power of the image of the penis has been discussed.
    Quite a bit has recently been put out there about the power of the photographer and viewer by Josh and me. Lannie will likely have some thoughts on Josh's and my comments.
    In order to get a better idea of what power might mean in this context, I suppose a good beginning would be to put your own thoughts on the table and hash them out with us.
     
  119. JS."They control their photographs because I don't let them sign model releases."
    'consent' takes on a different usage now.
    Luis, yet another use of power. Control of the final image as a product belongs to the subject. It seems right to me... always has. I have many photos that I would never consider sharing without first consulting the model. Or should they ever decide to have their image remain private that is their choice. In this case the 'power' or control is in their hands.
    I think Sturges photos solidly convey that sense of trust and empowerment for his subjects and their relationship. It is in his control and influence to accomplish that. and in my power to react how I will but I will predictably react differently to Sturges than Araki. Knowing that and why empowers me as a photographer and viewer.
     
  120. The thread has touched upon aspects of photographic nudity that are visual, aesthetic, interpretive, political, sociological, and process oriented. There are distinctions among these and there are also overlaps and dependencies. The Sturges story and considerations of "consent" lean more to the process side, though those considerations may certainly affect how he photographs and how we view his work. As Josh recognizes, this is yet another use of power. Josh's comparison of Sturges and Araki probably gets us back to (I think) what Lannie was after and what's been discussed for a couple of days now, which is more the viewer and photographer's visualizations, aesthetics, interpretation, and usage of nudes and to an extent the subject as participant in the actual making of the photograph.
     
  121. "and more to Rebecca's "girl without a brain"" (Fred)
    This is so utterly rude and disrespectful that I had to come back and say so. I know Rebecca, I've photographed Rebecca. She speaks German, Russian, French and English... and quite a bit of Spanish. She is one of the smartest girls I know. To talk about her this way is disgusting. I wish the Mod's would delete this. She does not deserve to be spoken about like this.
     
  122. Jeez!
    the topic interests me.
    It took me well over than an hour to read the previous thread - I admit I skipped some text - to try and understand something (even I was confused at some stage).
    And now I realise how long this one already is.
    I will find some time ...
     
  123. "The power of the nude, as discussed in this thread, ranges from Lannie's questioning about "vulnerability" to Josh's questioning about the "step toward sex" and more to Rebecca's "girl without a brain" to Zoe's "men have dominated the genre" to my own thoughts about "objectification."" (Fred)


    from Rebecca Apr 22, 2010; 08:45 p.m. "Josh, the power and the glory of the nude is your idea of the nude. I read the earlier installment of this (forum) and thought it was often just so much male "her body is so intelligent and wise, why do we need her to have a brain, too. It's so unfair." I believe this is the root of Fred's comment, not a slight to Rebecca. An inclusion of her ideas.
     
  124. Ok Josh - so Fred wasn't speaking about the photograph of Rebecca which started this thread? He was speaking about the Rebecca who is commenting here? Sorry folks! Confusion...
    back to my fish...
     
  125. Zoe- "Ok Josh - so Fred wasn't speaking about the photograph of Rebecca which started this thread? He was speaking about the Rebecca who is commenting here? Sorry folks! Confusion...back to my fish..."
    Shouldn't that be "Sorry, Fred", instead of "Sorry folks"? A specific accusation deserves a specific, not generic, apology.
     
  126. Zoe, I also misunderstood... which Rebecca you were referring to. I forgot for a moment that we have more than one involved in this discussion.
    Hi Luca. A lot of territory to review for sure. and confusion.
     
  127. Luis - no. the phrase "girl without a brain" still is quite pathetic no matter who it's directed to or who is doing the directing, whether it came from Fred or the poster (not the model) Rebecca, and I don't have the time to re-read all this lunacy (and it is lunacy) to figure out where it stemmed from. i don't apologize for being irritated seeing those words. i apologize for confusing the Rebecca's. just because women pose nude doesn't mean they don't have brains. just because photographers choose to photograph them a certain way to their own way of seeing shouldn't be cause to negate anyone's intelligence. the one's who do that show their own lack of intelligence by doing so. period. end of story. and i don't recall anyone apologizing to me for taking things I said out of context. why isn't there an ignore button on this site? i said I was sorry for the confusion (ONLY), my feelings about the words stand the same. i don't apologize for those feelings nor voicing those feelings one bit. your authoritative commentary should be apologized for, yet you still have to correct the woman each time she has something to say. I don't see you correcting any of the men here. and lord knows there's a lot that could be corrected.
     
  128. Zoe, I really am a sweet guy and you're almost amusingly mistaken here. I was quoting Rebecca Brown in order to include her idea that the forum has been, to her, about girls without brains. That many nudes are about girls without brains. In your hasty reading and perhaps with a little prejudice toward the image of me you've built up, you took that to be my telling Rebecca she doesn't have a brain. No, no, no. That's not my style and not my opinion. It would be nice if you gave me a genuine apology, because you really were totally off base here, and of course I'll defer to your own level of comfort with what you've said to me.
     
  129. Zoe, I just read your post. Then your anger should be directed at Rebecca Brown, because she said it. This is not about confusing the two Rebecca's. This is about your confusing Rebecca Brown and me and your inability to comprehend this thread and the conversation that has ensued between people. You should take the time required just to read the original post of Rebecca Brown where SHE said these words, because not taking the time has meant you're accusing me of something that in fact originated with Rebecca Brown. You have done me a great disservice and I wish you would take the time to rectify that.
    Rebecca Brown didn't mean it in a harmful way. She was stating a negative about nudes. That sometimes they seem to portray a girl without a brain. You needn't apologize for how those words make you feel. You should apologize to me for your now willful resistance to coming clean about your own complete misreading and misunderstanding.
     
  130. I'm stuck with a brain and no girl. That's a whole other problem right there I tell ya. Too much time to think. Thinking about thinking, some people ( I'm one of those some often enough ) take themselves too seriously too quickly, in situations where it's being counter-productive rather than productive in being clear. "Man-mask" back on, leaves me less emotional thoughts to process.
     
  131. fred... you're kidding, right? give me a break. you've criticized everything that i've spoken about here, taken me out of context, spoken negatively of me from the get go, and YOU want an apology. Are you doing stand up comedy?
     
  132. Changed my mind. I deleted my comment. No point.
     
  133. I guess I'll change my mind too. Definitely no point.
     
  134. [Hopscotching through the wreckage...lots to cover here indeed. Apologies for the long post.]
    Wouter - "Vulnerability, as Lanny quotes in the topic start, is one of the things, but it can also be a certain flair of invulnerable directness. Some photos make the viewer feel naked as well."
    Good points, Wouter. Vulnerability comes in many flavors, sometimes weak and/or fearful, other times it can be more of a transparency, other times fearless and seemingly vulnerable (The Story of O comes to mind here).
    ____________________________________

    Fred - "
    I think of them as portraits, not nudes or nakeds, though nudity and nakedness are involved integrally"
    That's a big difference. In your case, who the people are matters (most of the time}. They are anything but generic. In many of the nudes cited above, the personality of the subjects is relatively unimportant, although it is expressed through body language to the extent that is not dictated by the photographer, and even then, it always leaks out. No one is that good an actor. In a lot of these pictures, the subjects come across as meatscapes, or fetishes, to a large degree.
    ________________________________________________
    On Power:
    "David Huff -
    This is perhaps by favorite nude image I have seen on PN:
    http://www.photo.net/photo/10391730
    And, here is my favorite "naked" image I have seen on PN:
    http://www.photo.net/photo/10399451
    There is an amazing power reflected in each image and inescapable beauty of extraordinary depth, but only one woman is really naked - and obviously, she is clothed."
    I wonder exactly what kind of power David is talking about. I might be seeing the same thing he is, or not, but this is not self-evident.
    Josh - " The identity of the model was often secondary for me."
    One could argue that a certain kind of universality is gained via the generic nude. Or that the photographer is negating her identity as a way to impose his on the picture, or to shroud her with the inverse of a burqua with deindividuating shame/anonimity. This is near the core of the transaction I spoke of that happens between photogs and willing models (of either gender). If you look carefully at Mapplethorpe's work, he was extremely interested in this issue of generic vs the specific. Note that sometimes he uses the model's first name, other times first and last names.
    Josh - "Furthermore I see a distinction in objectifying and degradation"
    I think it is more linked to domination than anything else. Submission is not always a position of weakness.
    Josh - "power for me is often found in the ability to move, control for better or worse. influence. energize or relax..."
    Aha....the first clear enunciation of what is meant by "power".
    Josh mentioned revelation in the picture he liked of (the model) Rebecca. There's power in that, in the mystery, sequenced and controlled lowering of the veils that is a revelation. While the male gaze is often addressed in terms of its strengths, it is also a trap and prison as well for the gazer. Evolutionarily speaking, women, in general, have become experts at drawing the gaze unto themselves in a myriad ways, and manipulating the gazer as well. In almost every dominance-based relationship there is the overt and the subtextual aspect, where the apparently weaker member of the duo has considerable power and is needed by the other.
    Lannie - "I am skeptical of the power of the photographer to take very much of that away from her--especially without her consent. There is more to be said, but this post has rambled on far too long already."
    Any decent portraitist with good reflexes could take that away from her or any other sitter, with the same lighting, and doing nothing in PP. The possible exception would be if that sitter is extremely aware of the process and the image they project. One could make her look in a myriad different ways, not all of them positive.
    Josh -[On Sturge's lack of model releases] Yes, it is an empowering transaction because of the mutual trust involved, and the balance of that trust is pretty even for both sides. Human and more to the point, humane transactions are taking place and are also expected to take place in the future. It implies the entanglement between the model, the photographer and the photograph in the past, present and future. A mutuality, and a shared history.
    ____________________________________
     
  135. Zoe: "Luis - no. the phrase "girl without a brain" still is quite pathetic no matter who it's directed to or who is doing the directing, whether it came from Fred or the poster (not the model) Rebecca, and I don't have the time to re-read all this lunacy (and it is lunacy) to figure out where it stemmed from. i don't apologize for being irritated seeing those words. i apologize for confusing the Rebecca's."
    Zoe, I agree that it's a pathetic/angry/offensive phrase, specially when decontextualized. But you are still responsible for the accusations you make, and the offense they caused, regardless of the nature of your mistake, or how much you dislike Fred. All he did was quote Rebecca (the writer).
    There was a golden opportunity here to have a multifaceted discussion here, in spite of the title of the post and the wags. To drop a few angry bombs, litmus-test, insult and stereotype everyone else does nothing to foster understanding. Somehow, we blew it.
    You're also wrong and gratuitously derogatory about dissing all of this as lunacy. You may disagree with the PN members who genuinely expressed their opinions here, but stereotyping them as "boys", and bringing in the idea that they are all crazy as well is unfair and unsubstantiated.
    Normally, that scorched-earth policy is attributed to males, you know. :)
    I'm still grinning at that porn-tree (a hardwood, no doubt) that Julie sent....was it that big, or.... was it Photoshopped?
     
  136. Lannie, "One could argue that a certain kind of universality is gained via the generic nude. Or that the photographer is negating her identity as a way to impose his on the picture, or to shroud her with the inverse of a burqua with deindividuating shame/anonimity."
    I certainly don't disagree with that.


    Something this thread has offered me via self reflection. A question for me to ponder. Do I have a preference for generic nude or nudes of individuals. Do I have a preference? no. not as viewer or shooter. equal opportunity. I cross and mix the line, that distinction often. I will approach and view my own nudes as nude portraits or human studies using the nude genre. Either approach may cross the line to the another label, naked. and like Davids post suggests to me naked is not always about clothing for me. As I said before I know that we are concentrating on lack of clothing here.
    I experience photography as a self indulgent medium of expression. and at it's best it will communicate well to others and offer something of value in their eyes and mind. Sometimes I will use a model or myself like a tree. Doing so has opened my eyes in a way that i value. Insights into others work and my own use of the language that I use for expression. When it really soars it goes even deeper. I will use or offer myself as a faceless object to this end. (metaphorically or not).
     
  137. As I've already apologized, for confusing the writer with the model, and confusing giving the photograph a title, instead of talking about what someone said about the genre in general, I don't feel yet another apology is necessary. It's just you wanting to come down on me because I left myself open and wasn't watching my back sufficiently. Are you a wolverine waiting for the kill? Jesus!
    I don't dislike anyone.
    I have been heavily involved in the fine art nude genre for over 20 years, I've put a book out, my work is regularly in gallery exhibitions, I've worked with hundreds of photographers and almost the same number of models, I teach, I do speaking engagements all about nude photography. I thought I'd be able to contribute something without being picked apart for expressing my feelings about this genre of photography, because it's extremely close to home. And since the model in question happened to be a friend, and people were speaking about how she shouldn't have been looking at the camera and instead resort to being submissive so as not to seem antagonizing to the viewer, I thought I'd step in and say something to retort that because I'm tired of seeing submissive nudes. Yet these are the responses I received while trying to provoke thought:
    "Iwill ignore the condescending tone of your post" (I'm a bitch)
    "By the way, Zoe, leaving sex out of it is pure silliness" (I'm a silly little girl!)
    "If one denies that, they simply have no understanding of nature or the human male." (I'm dumb)
    "I don't take your not sexualizing images as "a woman's perspective". I see it as your perspective. " (lots of women desexualize nudes, it's not only my perspective.)
    "I find this distinction a bit silly, "male/man photographs" vs "female/woman photographs"" (I'm silly again)
    " You're constantly pushing the differences between male and female, but yet want to be treated the same?" (I'm a hypocrite)
    "I get the more than faint idea you find nudes to be degrading." (huh? have you seen my websites??? it's all nudes.)
    "Yes, it's good for us males to consider female opinions on this" (so, uh, we have to be considered?)
    "Referring to a feminist website to support a view of the reaction 'women' have to nudity/nakedness is a strange one." (I'm strange)
    "If I may be so bold, you come onto a (male comindated, as you see it) forum and try to tell experienced photographers that their conceptions of how women (and men!) view nudes." (I'm not an experienced model or photographer, so therefore I should pipe down - even though I've probably been at it longer than whoever said this)
    "Oh c'mon, man-up a little !" (I'm acting too much like a woman in the men's room)
    "You cannot be Brigman or Man Ray, no matter how hard you try to imitate them." (I'm an imitator)
    "Like always, we called someone on assumptions, attitude, and false generalizations.
    Zoe, you prejudged the outcome before you entered.
    Nothing enlightening here." (I needed to be called out about my feelings about fine art nude photography, I'm not enlightened, I prejudge, I spoke falsely.)
    "Maybe I give people in this forum more credit than you and Zoe in being able to be genuine and in approaching the subject knowing the limitations of their own inherited biases and the biases of the world and able to carry on a philosophical discussion nevertheless. Have you never felt pounced on in this forum? Did you blame it on some generic fact about what group of people you fit into or did you see it in another light?" (I'm unable to give anyone credit in being genuine, I'm biased)
    "Arthur, if Zoe was being pounced upon, it was for the ideas she expressed and her manner of expressing them." (I didn't express myself up to standards)
    "Zoe melted down and left" (no, I had to prepare for a discussion about self-publishing to an audience and decided I didn't have time for this, and well, was considerably tired of being put down for my thoughts.)
    "Zoe can roll and laugh her way to self-righteous oblivion, but she missed the point. I never suggested, let alone accused, she was trying to copy anyone. I've never even looked at her pictures." (I'm self-righteous even though I was told I was trying to imitate dead photographers)
    " A specific accusation deserves a specific, not generic, apology." (chastising and antagonistic and demanding)
    "inability to comprehend this thread" (my brain obviously doesn't work the way it should)
    "You're also wrong and gratuitously derogatory about dissing all of this as lunacy." (I'm wrong again, even though all these stabs at me are complete and utter lunacy)
    So - no apology. How unfortunate for the other people genuinely interested in what I might have to say when I have to constantly brush off these accusations.
    Excuse me... but I think I'm the one who deserves an apology. Not asking though, as I know it won't be forthcoming and I'll look like I'm not "manning up."
     
  138. Zoe - "How unfortunate for the other people genuinely interested in what I might have to say when I have to constantly brush off these accusations."
    Believe it or not, in spite of all the bickering, almost everyone here, myself included, is interested in what you have to say.
    [Geez...Zoe quoted me no less than four times on that list...]
    I went over to one of your sites and looked at the few series one can look at without signing up. I found your work well-conceived, done, interesting and humane.
    _____________________
     
  139. *"I find this distinction a bit silly, "male/man photographs" vs "female/woman photographs"" (I'm silly again)


    That was me in a direct response to what Arthur said, and I don't find Arthur therefore silly, but the distinction, let's try to judge the photograph and its intention from the maker on its content, not on the photographers sex, regardless if the pic is a nude or not.


    *"Oh c'mon, man-up a little !" (I'm acting too much like a woman in the men's room)"


    Uhm, that was like, "humour", the Chuck Norris part afterwards should have given that away you know.
    --------------
    @phylo - women and men do photograph differently. just like they dress differently and think differently. so to think that a woman's response to nude photography would be the same as a man's response is naive.women are capable of millions of emotions in a millisecond. that's why we cry more than men do, if you've failed to notice.


    ( besides that I didn't say that women and men aren't any different in photography and in general (nah, really ? ), I'm naive and failed to notice that women are capable of "millions of emotions in a millisecond" because they cry more than men do. So again, the only man who doesn't cry is Chuck Norris. A real real shame because his tears do cure cancer and contain the elixer for worldpeace. By the way, it's not the quantity, but the quality of emotion that makes it emotional.
     
  140. Lannie, quite an example! They say "a picture is worth a thousand words" and I think no words could convey ideas and feelings as well as all the examples you've chosen throughout these two threads. The examples all seem to me to be at the far extreme ends of the nudity/naked spectrum with very little to represent the vast gray area in between. That paints a picture.
     
  141. Fred, perhaps you or others could link to examples from that "vast gray area in between," which is where it really gets interesting intellectually as well as sensually.
    --Lannie
     
  142. I'll just restate my own feeling that nude/naked is not a dichotomy or and either-or matter.
     
  143. Maybe you're right, Fred, but I still maintain that Robert Graves ("The Naked and the Nude") was onto something.
    --Lannie
     
  144. I'll just restate my own feeling that nude/naked is not a dichotomy or an either-or matter.​
    Fred, your comment forces us back to the philosophical roots of this discussion. "Naked" and "nude" are ostensibly synonyms, and thus should signify the very same thing. If they always did mean the same thing, then there would, of course, be no dichotomy at all. The problem is that they clearly do not always mean the same thing.
    The subtle nuances in the words are manifested "in use," as you well know from your own philosophical background. I am reminded of a passage from Ludwig Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations with which you are already familiar: "the meaning of a word is its use in the language" (PI 43). This view has already been presaged in the Blue and Brown Books: "The meaning of the expression depends entirely on how we go on using it." (73)
    I am not inclined to dive too far back into the discussion above in which we tried to clarify the distinctions between these two words. I alluded to "family resemblances" (really another allusion to Wittgenstein, of course), but the real point is that these two words are really slippery (no pun intended) concepts in use: the usages keeps squirming around. It is hard to pin them down.
    One could surely write a dissertation on the two words and the subtle differences in the way that they are used. I wonder if that has already been done.
    --Lannie
     
  145. It's nearly impossible to read all, but
    the perception of a photo as nude or naked does not depend on the photo itself, at least not only on the photo, but a lot on the viewer.
    This opens up a world, which is as vast as the individual viewers are. It depends on their background, culture, beliefs, morals, on the mainstream cultural, ethic, moral, aesthetic values and what have you.
    And, last but not least, their genre.
    I don't believe in the plain objectification of the photographed subject either.
    Luca
     
  146. Thank you, Luca. As I like to say in class, "Contexto es todo." "Context is everything," and there are all kinds of context--most obviously and importantly the cultural one-- but the context of the immediate event or situation is [almost] always ambiguous and problematic for me in photography, since it rarely or ever inheres in the photograph per se.

    --Lannie
     
  147. "the meaning of a word is its use in the language"​
    I wonder if Lewis Carroll ever read that:
    "When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less."​
    Just being mischievous...
     
  148. Most of us are, Mike, or, as the Helen Hunt character says while being sketched in the nude in As Good as It Gets, "We're being naughty here, pal." The artist, a gay guy played by Greg Kinnear, assures her that they are not. The sketches turn out wonderfully, no one gets violated, and true love wins in the end--but not between these two. (The obsessive-compulsive dirty old man played by Jack Nicholson gets the girl.)
    As for Lewis Carroll (Through the Looking Glass), when I think "naked" and "nude," Tweedledee and Tweedledum come to mind--but, like as they may be, they still represent two different characters.
    Where are the literati when we need them?
    --Lannie
     
  149. http://www.photo.net/photo/3251073
    This one was shot through silk. On any definition, what can one say about it?
    As bad as the "naked v. nude" choice is, it is surely preferable to the "art v. porn" question on all these works.
    --Lannie
     
  150. Here they are all skin on skin and if there was a person wearing clothes in this mass of naked body's, he/she would be the one standing out, exposed and naked, identifiable :
    http://www.spencertunick.com/

    Psychological / non-psychological seems more a key difference to me in portraits / nudes than naked /nude.
    A state of mind more than a state of body.
     
  151. http://www.photo.net/photo/3251073
    This one was shot through silk. On any definition, what can one say about it?​
    As a photograph, it's too finished for me, there's no way in anymore, one look and that's that, one can say that it's a model striking a pose, nude or naked, that's pretty much it. Things to me get more interesting in the "unfinished", the more visually and psychologically open :
    http://www.taschen.com/media/images/480/default_ce_gibson_art_edn_a_shadow_0811241536_id_182280.jpg
    They are both a different photography, more than they are a different way of approaching the nude.
     
  152. There are a lot of dichotomies:
    • picture vs. art
    • nude vs. naked
    • naked vs. porn
    • ...
    What I try to find out when I look at a photo is how much work there is behind it. On the part of the model and on the part of the photographer.
    A photo which looks as simple as this
    http://www.photo.net/photo/10272931
    is the result of work and workout on the part of the model and inspiration and technique on the part of the photographer.
    Not to speak of this one:
    http://www.photo.net/photo/7009742
    What is this?
    http://www.photo.net/photo/9941785
    Not much to be seen, but quite explicit, provided that the hand covering "her" is "his". Btw. what I like particularly are her tiny hands.
    How much technical ability behind this one?
    http://www.photo.net/photo/10896058.
    I believe it is shot on film, so the trial and error process is even more challenging.
    L.
     
  153. Lannie "The problem is that they [the words; naked/nude] clearly do not always mean the same thing." "Fred, perhaps you or others could link to examples from that "vast gray area in between," which is where it really gets interesting intellectually as well as sensually."

    nude for me is a state of being undressed, lack of clothing. it may be an indivdiual, a group with or without their identity intact.. naked is more than a state of undress. many words have been used here. More...private, vulnerable, exposed, revelatory, etc.
    Naked is a more loaded word in photography imo. Perhaps more loaded than it has been in painting or dance, I think so. I think the direct quality of photography has increased the distance of the words. The usage ranges from the interchangeability with the word nude to suggesting that it is pornographic and degrading.
    It is in the 'vast gray area' that we as shooters, viewers, models and word users that we stand out as individuals. My gray area is going to be very different than Lannies.. I have seen it in your examples and I hear it in your words. I enjoy the differences and it becomes part of my understanding viewers response. To search for commonalities and recognize the differences, those elusive characteristics is fun. but the difficulty I experience is that it seems most productive to discuss nuance, refinement, details one on one. In other words, I know your definitions you know mine and we understand the common ground and the differences. Generalities and gray area do not make good bedfellas when the territory is so vast.

    Mike - from LC""When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less." stimulating thought for me, it also opened a lot of questions and qualifications. and i find myself often looking for the usage/motivation in a photograph.


    Luca -"I don't believe in the plain objectification of the photographed subject either." plain? without identity? would your comment remain intact without the word plain? no I am not pursuing an writing lesson. :0 One reason I ask is because I realize that in my last post where I mention using my model like a tree to express myself I was thinking of times I approach the nude as an 'abstract'. Working with an idea that may include a total lack of identity for the model. Almost the epitome of objectification and yet entirely lacking in disrespect of the model IMO. perhaps even moreso because there is likely no way for a viewer to connect it to an individual except by their own projection.


    Phylo "...there's no way in anymore.." I like those words as a way of seeing a photograph.
     
  154. Josh,
    I meant to come back on this item. It could depend on my command of English, since I'm not a native speaker.
    Plain I used in the sense of mere.
    Objectification is used in relation to the authentic personality of the portrayed model - male or female. I agree, the photographer could depict the model in such a way that the identity or the personality is not shown.
    But in no way this can actually deprive the model of his/her personality.
    So, what I mean that whatever visual impact, the photo is fictitious. It shows something which is basically instantaneous and momentary. It basically lies.
    It definitely cannot deprive the model of his/her identity.
    And any disrespect in my opinion must be portrayed in a photo with the consent of the model, but actually does not deprive the model of the actual respect which must be tributed to any human being.
    You are right, there is the viewer's own projection, but that's entirely in the viewer's domain.
    I hope to have been clear.
    L.
     
  155. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Since the Powers that Be on Photo.net haven't deleted my account at my request yet, I'm going to say that we had a couple of unchallenged assumptions about women go down here: one that three posters with XX chromosomes could speak to why women didn't usually photograph male nudes. One of us has made a trivial amount of money doing some photojournalism and dog and owner portraits, one other XX person is a photo collagist who reads and comments on aesthetic philosophy on her blog, the third is a serious photographer of female nudes who gives workshops on doing this. The only way that this question makes sense is if there is a common female thing and a common male thing that we can talk about. The rest of the XY people on this board don't question the question.
    Second bit of stupid -- the comment about women who have high powered careers "losing their femininity." This assumes there's what they do isn't a natural variant of XX behavior, but that some how along the line, they lost some essential innate thing. As a woman, I've been accused of having been born a man who did M to F trans but whose cultural conditioning as a male was breaking through. So, second bit of stupid not questioned by other XY types here.
    Third bit of stupid has been on going and is fairly typical of people (and women do this too, but men do it more) trying to use other people's insecurities, newness, assumed lack of sophistication, to get admiration for themselves. I first ran into this gambit when I was twelve and made any adult stupid enough to gush over my paintings take them home with them, or at least out of my sight. Telling someone 61 that she reminds you of a student is bone ignorant or assumes far too much. Talking about the glories of artistic exploration and how exciting it is is to talk to a stereotype, not me.
    Then, I asked Fred not to email me. He's not the first male who decided that his needs were greater than my boundaries on some request like this. Some one tells you in a post not to email, the only reason you might have to break that request is if you see that the person's house is on fire. Do people know how many times women are asked to rescue other people's feelings. At the same time, this all was happening, a former colleague (female) was asking me to email a former student who was depressed because she wasn't getting published to encourage her. Best thing was to mourn the dead dream and move on, or show her work to people whose praise would be based on more that a person who'd never published fantasy herself nor edited fantasy nor had other students who made names for themselves could give her.
    I also realized that I didn't want to go through with photography what I'd been through earlier with poetry and then science fiction, the business of wading through the self-deceptions of coteries, and the various stereotypes of what women do (as seen in the unchallenged statements made in this thread), all of which are the defenses of fairly mediocre practitioners. It gets better when the company is more fully professional, but one has to earn ones way out of the muddle at the bottom, the people who know all the theory but can't do the work, the people who are sure that because most of the better performers are male and they're male, that they're better than women, or that men and women do different things (as in A.R. Ammon's statement to a female poetry student that women write about their love for men).
    Once we've got the unchallenged cliches about women losing their femininity when they take on high powered work, of women in general doing something in general because of some general thing, it looks like stereotyping women is what the guys in this group are doing (silence tends to be interpreted as cowardice or consent).
    The big one is Fred proved that he, for one, would not respect a woman's boundaries. It really doesn't need to get any more specific than that. If other women have asked him to keep this out of their mailboxes, I dunno, but if he's also not respecting their requests, I call pattern, and the pattern looks pretty damned sexist to me.
    My experience with around 50 years of being serious about the arts is that if someone feed me a line I've heard or read countless time before, that's not addressing me as an individual, I won't get useful feedback from that person.
    I'm going to continue reading one person's blog -- there's only so much neat stuff I can follow, and there's more than enough neat stuff there. Here, too much posturing.
    Now, will the proper person do the honors and turn off my account. I removed all my galleries on Saturday.
     
  156. Luca, "Plain I used in the sense of mere". "It [ photo] definitely cannot deprive the model of his/her identity." to be sure. "...since I'm not a native speaker." surprised me.
    you were clear.
    perhaps I should have written, "Working with an idea that may include a total lack of photographic representation of the identity (maybe even the individualism) for the model."
     
  157. Rebecca,
    one question off topic.
    Why are boundaries a matter of genre?
    The big one is Fred proved that he, for one, would not respect a woman's boundaries. It really doesn't need to get any more specific than that. If other women have asked him to keep this out of their mailboxes, I dunno, but if he's also not respecting their requests, I call pattern, and the pattern looks pretty damned sexist to me.​
    In my vision of the world, if any person asks to respect boundaries, he/she has the right to be respected. Where is the sexism?
    L.
    PS As far as I know you can turn off your account on your own. However it will not delete your forum posts, as per photo.net participation rules.
     
  158. [Tip-toeing among the smoldering ruins and minefields...]
    Here is another take on the meaning of "power" in photography, and I thought germane to the idea of it in photographing the nude, since it is so often a sexual fetish (among other things).
    "To photograph is to appropriate the thing photographed. It means putting oneself in a certain relationship to the world that feels like knowledge -- and therefore, like power."
    --- Susan Sontag.
     
  159. I like the suggested dimension Luis.
     
  160. What a powerful, glorious thread.
     
  161. Are you being facetious, Ernest?
    As for the original question, I will close out by offering this one:
    http://www.photo.net/photo/6694634
    What do you think? Nude but not naked? That is my take on it.
    Then again, in what sense is it really a nude? She is not naked at all, is she? To what extent does this even belong in the "nude" category on PN?
    --Lannie
     
  162. "BEAUTY THAT WORDS CANNOT RECALL. . ." --Phil Ochs
    Here really was the actual inspiration for both threads that I started on "The Power and the Glory":
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Ob7cDBMc6g&feature=related
    In other words, it really is about esthetics, beauty, not really about lust at all, when one gets to the real power and the real glory of it all: God created the human form, and it is a very worthy object of our admiration.
    So, here is to the memory of Phil Ochs, who committed suicide in 1976. There but for fortune, my friends on PN, go you and I:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTjRPugJ8CA
    God bless you, Phil. Like all passionate persons, you were doomed to being misunderstood by many, but some of us really did get the point. The FBI may have considered you to be a dangerous man, but you were my hero--and always will be.
    As for those who think that men look at nudes only because they are shots of naked women, let me simply say that the arts cross-fertilize each other in myriad and wondrous ways, from music to dance to photography to painting, etc., but that is a topic for another thread. . . .
    --Lannie
    [lights out]
     
  163. Since God created snakes, trees, and arsenic, they ought to be just as powerful and glorious as the nude body, so why single the nude body out? I have a feeling there's some other charge behind the nude body, like sexuality or lust, that it's hard to admit to.
     
  164. There obviously is, Fred, but I think that it can be factored out--and must be factored out in some cases to recognize the pure beauty of the form, even across gender lines (or lines implied by sexual orientation, I should say). Otherwise we should not ever have gotten onto the issue of why straight women still shoot women as models. Unfortunately, that tangent developed a tangent of its own which became a diatribe and ceased to be a discussion.
    --Lannie
     
  165. Lannie, I don't understand your answer. It's also interesting to me that you've been moved only by the God-given power and glory of the female nude form, since those are the only examples you've linked to in each thread (as far as I recall). I guess the male form is not as godly for you. Curious.
     
  166. Mystification, spiritualization, reification, sublimation.
    "Thus finishing his grand Survey,
    Disgusted Strephon stole away
    Repeating in his amorous Fits,
    Oh! Celia, Celia, Celia shits!"
    -- Jonathan Swift
    http://www.potw.org/archive/potw158.html
     
  167. ¿You want male nude, señor? I give you male nude--large male nude, señor:
    http://www.photo.net/photo/10962290&size=lg
    I have the sense that we might have dropped a smidgen below the Seventh Heaven at this point. (The photo is not a self-portrait.)
    --Lannie
     
  168. As I said, Lannie, your examples kind of tell the real story of the threads.
     
  169. But 'tis not the whole story, is it, Fred? After all, even the power and glory are still in the eye--and mind--of the beholder.
    The hormonal interpretation is interesting, but not completely compelling to me.
    --Lannie
     
  170. Mystification, spiritualization, reification, sublimation.​
    Yes, indeed, Don, but saying so does not make the metaphysical questions go away. A philosophy professor in grad school during the seventies told me that everything in philosophy is related to everything else. The statement struck me as insightful and even profound at the time--now it seems such a truism that I scarcely even think about it.
    In any case, our evaluation of the esthetic and the ethical are all mixed up with our metaphysics as well.
    The ultimate puzzle is the epistemological one: how do we know? How could we?
    I think that it was a minister or priest or rabbi in an Updike novel who gently chastised one of his parishioners (or whatever) with something like this: "I've noticed that you talk a lot about heaven and the divine, but why is it that it always seems to come around in a tight skirt?"
    Well, the skirt has been dropped in this thread, but the questions remain. Whether we are talking about the beauty and power of the nude or the awe, majesty, and inspiration of true love, the role of the divine is still there as the ultimate possible explanatory variable. The questions remain for me. As I said, I have no answers. I am still trying to get the questions straight.
    --Lannie
     
  171. Lannie, as you know from the last thread, I don't think hormonal answers are the only ones. There's a lot more to nudes than power and glory and hormones.
    I long ago gave up on the divine as an ultimate answer to anything, perhaps because I gave up on ultimate answers altogether. I find seeking ultimate answers fruitless. I look for finite ones, ones I assume will change over time and with context.
    In most of your examples, the kind of beauty I see is a sort of prettiness or coyness. That kind of "beauty" doesn't move me much. Though it's not a search I undertake, I admire your search for some sort of ultimate answer to this question, though I don't understand what exactly the question is you're raising. I wish you luck with it.
     
  172. Lannie, something to consider which I've been wondering about. It does seem to me that this subject may be more hormonal to you than to others here. The types of examples you've chosen, the fact that you simply made a visual joke about male nudes rather than addressing it as a substantive subject when I brought it up, the way you've approached the subject on both occasions, even slipping in the divine at a late point in the discussion, suggests to me it's possible that power and glory are actually masking something a bit deeper and more profound and, possibly, profane here. It's honestly just a suggestion, just something to think about since you did say you were having trouble even framing the questions here. Asking those kinds of questions of ourselves, which I've certainly done for myself in my own relationship to the nudes I do, could be enlightening.
     
  173. Ah, Fred, one can only profane the sacred! I thought that you did not believe in such concepts as the "sacred," "divine," "godly," etc. How can you say that I profane that which you do not acknowledge as existing? Now I seem to have offended you because I have suggested that sexuality can be divine or sacred?? It can--but it can also be cheap and profane. I think that it is pretty clear that the sexual response can be within a committed loving relationship, or it can be in a cheap, tawdry encounter. In any case, it surely is not the sex per se which is profane, but the larger social context within which it occurs, not to mention the motives and thoughts of the person(s) engaging in the sexual activity. And now you presume to go so far as to gauge my thoughts and ultimate motives? Fred, you must have not only incredible mental powers but also incredible spiritual ones as well!
    In any case, the ad hominem is out of place, and the philosophical argument is preferable. You have no idea as to what is in my mind, nor to what extent I need redemption, or some such. You seem to be waffling all over the place in your own views, and yet you challenge mine. The divine element has been in my mind from the beginning. I operate from a consistently theistic metaphysics. I do not waffle on that point. You are more the agnostic, I would say. I posit God as existing, but I do not presume that I could prove my ultimate assumptions.
    As for my saying that we do well to frame the questions rather than presume to give answers, that is but a corollary to Socrates' claim to know nothing. I, too, know nothing, and every passing year convinces me even more of that.
    In any case, I think that you see a false dichotomy between sexuality and spirituality. I do not. Sexuality can be purely appetitive, but it can also be much more than that. I really do not know what else to say by way of response to your rather strange assault except to say that I was sincerely hoping that this thread would be free of ad hominem remarks. It seems also at times that you would like to be a materialist reductionist of all transcendental claims. I am not a materialist monist or a materialist of any sort. We are worlds apart, I fear. I doubt that we shall resolve such deep-seated differences here.
    Yet, yet, Fred, I do not regard the sexual as ipso facto "dirty." That would be preposterous. To the extent that the sexual impulse often figures in the appreciation of the nude work of art, so be it. I still think that it is not only conceptually factorable, however, but that one may sometimes set it aside, repress it, transcend it, or even sublimate it (in a non-Freudian sense). I am not above joking about such matters, for in the vast majority of cases I know full well that viewing the nude is not done from asexual motives.
    Again the words of Nietzsche come to mind: we are human, all too human. Beyond that Nietzsche and I diverge: at times we are capable of transcending the merely human and glimpsing the divine.
    Now, please, IF you can control yourself and stifle all ad hominem tendencies, I would appreciate an honest response and discussion, not a debate. I am not optimistic on that point, nor was I when I started this thread. I expected the ad hominem to come sooner or later, and sure enough, it finally came.
    --Lannie
     
  174. ""Mystification, spiritualization, reification, sublimation.""

    "Whether we are talking about the beauty and power of the nude or the awe, majesty, and inspiration of true love, the role of the divine is still there as the ultimate possible explanatory variable. The questions remain for me. As I said, I have no answers. I am still trying to get the questions straight."

    We are talking about photographs. Let me try a fifth term: idolatry
     
  175. Whether we are talking about the beauty and power of the nude or the awe, majesty, and inspiration of true love, the role of the divine is still there as the ultimate possible explanatory variable.​
    Where love rules, there is no will to power,and where power predominates, love is lacking. The one is the shadow of the other. Carl Jung


    What is the divine other than a psychological impulse in ones soul, trying to illuminate the casting shadows of both.
     
  176. The impact of the nude varies greatly from person to person, as well as from image to image. I do not think it is possible to discuss impact difference from image to image without first discussing the impact difference from person to person. It is very clear that the original image referenced by Lannie had significantly different impacts on Lannie, Zoe, and Steve. It is probably instructive to look at why these differences occured.
    A good starting place for this would be to look at images from different photographers that have been judged to be “good”. I suggest Edward Weston, Bill Brandt , and Helmut Newton.
    I find many of Weston’s nudes to be completely devoid of any emotional impact. This is because he cuts of the heads on many/lost of his nudes. From my perspective, the face, and the eyes in particular, create the strongest/ most of the emotional impact in images of people. This is particularly true of nudes. Weston’s work attempts to evoke emotional content from the viewer with little or no contribution from the face. Classically, Weston’s work is considered a premier example of fine art nude photography.
    Bill Brandt’s nudes are in some ways similar to Weston’s, his work is also predominantly “fine art” and, from me at least, the emotional response comes from the lens distortion present in his nudes.
    Helmut Newton’s nudes are different from either of the other two photographers. Newton, at least in his “Big Nudes” series, usually evokes an emotional response via the facial expression/eyes. All of the models in this series have very “strong”/”powerful” facial expressions, which (from my perspective) dominate the image and create the emotional response.
    What sort of impact do these photographer’s work have on the rest of you? Do you differentiate "naked" from "nude"?
     
  177. I always found Helmut Newton's nudes to be cold and precisely lacking in emotion. I don't neccesarily look for the subject to show emotion/ eyes/ expression ( which in Newton's big photographs of nudes they / the subjects completely don't to me , well, they do of course but..there's just nothing there... ), I look for the photograph to show/evoke emotion, which with Weston, they do, if alone ( paradoxically ) for the purily vision of a "photographic objectivity" within - no, not within, of the photographs - Newton's big nudes are just naked too perfect topmodels to me.
     
  178. The big difference is, that Weston photographed and showed women, not models. Too many nude photographs are about models...posing, they lack a certain connection of truth, only showing the photographer / model connection if any.
     
  179. Thanks to everyone, and especially to you, Jim. My remarks below are not directed to anyone in particular, except where specifically noted.
    I have looked again at your picture of Rebecca ("Deep Thought"--not a play on "Deep Throat," I hope) with an eye toward greater insight into what is responsible for her impact on me as an example of what I have once referred to above as the "naked nude." I have certainly seen other photographic nudes which show a greater sense of vulnerability, but there is a paradox at work here. That paradox revolves, I think, around two very different possible implications of eye contact (something almost never seen in formal "fine art" nude photography).
    On the one hand, her looking straight into the lens implies a certain kind of boldness and confidence rather than vulnerability--and thus suggests anything other than "nakedness qua vulnerabilitly." On the other hand, looking into the lens from such a short distance away can also imply honesty from two possible perspectives: "Here is a naked woman right in front of me" or "Here I am, a naked woman, right in front of you!" The sexual implications (in this culture, at least) are hard to ignore in such a case, even though I doubt that the picture was designed to elicit an erotic response in the same way that, say, glamour nudes are.
    In any case, I think that the photo succeeds for me where it fails for others in part because of the tension between two (at least!) competing possible messages implicit in her stare. Since the viewer and not merely the photographer gets the sense of being looked at by a nude woman, up close and personal given the directness of her stare and her proximity to the camera, her look can give two possible messages: first, "I am not concerned over my nakedness, nor am I naked in any spiritual sense"; second, "I am aware of my nakedness and here I am available to you." There may be any number of possible ways of reading the look upon first glance, but these two come immediately to mind.
    Now, of course, it matters little whether either or neither thought was going through the mind of the model. She might have simply been a bit surprised to see the lens pointed at her during the set-up phase while she was still applying lip gloss. Her arm seems to accidentally cover her breast, but perhaps that is no accident. She is not, after all, a neophyte to modeling. She possibly has her guard up at this stage of the shoot. Perhaps not. She is showing very little for a woman in the nude, and yet the fact that she is nude is obvious.
    It really does not matter what is going through the mind of either photographer or model, of course, since at this point one wants to shift to the other side of artistic imagination in order to answer the question that I posed at the outset--the imagination and thus perception on the part of the viewer. The viewer has two possible responses to the stare: reciprocated nonchalance or reciprocated interest in the prospect of further contact, depending on what reads into her stare. I find the two interpretations oscillating back and forth in my own mind as I look at the picture, even though I know full well that the look is not directed at me, and quite likely was not directed toward the photographer. I really do not know anything about the mental state of the model, but things happen fast in the conscious and unconscious mind of a man seeing a naked woman--at least in this culture. Thus it is that, in that split second of first viewing, one does not see a model or a work of art: one sees a naked woman.
    That is, given the speed of mental processes, when one first views the picture, it has a direct impact as if a real woman were looking at one. What one sees is not necesarily direct perception, but perception (I presume) colored by previous conditioning, memories, and any number of other possible variable. One might even imagine (without trying to) that one has just accidentally walked into a room to find a nude woman right in front of one. It matters not at this point that she is sitting atop a dressing or makeup table. The mind of the heterosexual male does not see "table" or "lights." If one is a heterosexual male, the mind sees and conceptualilzes "naked woman in my face" or even "shameless naked woman in my face" or, obversely, "my kid sister naked in my face." In other words, there is no way that the artist can predict in advance what the potential viewer might bring to the viewing. Tme mind moves around where it will.
    In any case, one might postulate a kind of oscillating subconscious mental response between two possible interpretations to the "situation" as one perceives it at first glance: erotic implications (willing female) versus non-erotic implicatons (kid sister casually sitting there putting on lip gloss). Other possible interpretations qua perceptions are possible, but I use these two polar responses simply for illustrative purposes.
    In any case, I keep coming back to the conversation between J.L. Austin in Sense and Sensibilia in opposition to those who interperted perception as interpretation of "sense data." I read the book in 1971 in a philosohy seminar on epistemology at the University of Florida by Richard Haynes ("Seminar on the Theory of Knowledge," I think that it was called, but it has been a few years). As I recall, at least, Austin believed in "direct perception," whereas others (especially Kant) would have interpreted perception as being filtered by what has been called "conceptual lenses."
    In any case, Fred, if you happen to be reading this, I have seen your own allusions to Kant and thus (quite likely) to alternatives to "direct perception" theory in philosophy. Perhaps you have more to offer on that particular issue as it affects the answer to the question posed in this thread.
    So, in case anyone is wondering about my ultimate motive or agenda in addressing these issues in this thread and the previous thread of essentially the same name last May, I fully admit to Fred that one may not know one's own motives--and I might not know mine. At the same time, on the conscious level I am aware of an ongoing philosophical battle in my own mind about theories of epistemology qua perception---although we did not discuss naked women in the philosophy seminar (but might have). It is yet a very short intellectual leap from Austin v. Kant to esthetics and to its subset, the interpretation of nude photography, and so the ultimate source of my own puzzlement does not trouble me excessively. If it also driven by hormones, so be it. That would hardly be surprising. I am no celibate priest nor have I suggested that I am. I would in fact be very surpised if the question did not have at least some of its origins in hormonal influences on mental processes--but that, I know for certain, cannot be the whole story.
    In any case, once again one sees how these forums can operate on different levels and mean different things for different people. Epistemology --> esthetics --> sexual ethics, etc. I find the linking of philosphical topics fascinating, regardless of which way the causal arrow ponits.
    I'll stop now, not because I have resolved anything, but because the question is at present unanswerable in my own mind: "Why does the photographic nude vary so greatly in its impact on us? More specifically, why do some nudes appear more naked than others?"
    I still consider it a worthy question of asking--even as I cannot begin to answer it at my present level of understanding.
    As always, I am always open to a more or less constant or continuing rephrasing of the question. There is often much insight to be gained in doing so.
    --Lannie
     
  180. I think Phylo has likely re-emphasized the most significant point in this thread. It is not the model or the nude that is getting a reaction. It is the photograph. It's a mistake to lose sight of the fact that we are looking at a photograph and to think we're looking at a person.
     
  181. I thought it was me "We are talking about photographs", but ok, Phylo, too.
    Landrum is searching for the philosophy of cheesecake. All the photo lacks is celery (old cheesecake joke)
     
  182. "her look can give two possible messages: first, 'I am not concerned over my nakedness, nor am I naked in any spiritual sense'; second, 'I am aware of my nakedness and here I am available to you.' There may be any number of possible ways of reading the look upon first glance, but these two come immediately to mind."
    When I work with nude subjects, for the most part they are nude at my request, not because they have something to say. I often have them nude because it makes for a more compelling visual, more details, more lines and curves, less distraction of the designs or patterns of clothing. Their nudity is often visual rather than interpretive. It often sets up a dynamic with me, the photographer, that becomes palpable to a viewer. Intimacy more than nudity or nakedness. Many photographs that contain nudity or nakedness are not, for me, about nakedness or nudity. The nudity is a factor. Various photographers work differently. Nude/naked is often a beginning, not the endgame.
     
  183. Don, sorry, didn't mean to slight you. I've been appreciating your responses here.
     
  184. Fred Goldsmith, Apr 30, 2010; 09:16 a.m.
    I have a feeling there's some other charge behind the nude body, like sexuality or lust, that it's hard to admit to.
    Landrum Kelly, Apr 30, 2010; 09:50 a.m.
    There obviously is, Fred, but I think that it can be factored out--and must be factored out in some cases to recognize the pure beauty of the form, even across gender lines (or lines implied by sexual orientation, I should say)
    Jim Phelps, Apr 30, 2010; 09:18 p.m.
    The impact of the nude varies greatly from person to person, as well as from image to image. I do not think it is possible to discuss impact difference from image to image without first discussing the impact difference from person to person. It is very clear that the original image referenced by Lannie had significantly different impacts on Lannie, Zoe, and Steve. It is probably instructive to look at why these differences occured.​
    The factors which determine the impact of any photo - in our case nudes - are so many, and so intertwined in the photo itself and in the single viewer that it is practically impossible to clearly map them and determine their weight. Among cultural background, personal aesthetics, etc. of course the instinctive attraction - simplifying, hormones - play a role.

    I can speak only for myself in this respect, but in general I am a-priori attracted by a female nude, being a heterosexual male. But. I agree with Lannie that hormones have to be factored out. I have to make an effort to detach my aesthetic judgement from that aspect.

    In my view it is absolutely impossible to generalize on this point. Moreover, it's a mere personal dimension which each of us can try to make out on their own. For sure it is not possible to find a general categorization of such reactions. Any photo, nudes included, have some sort of intrinsic visual message and determine some impact. This impact is manifold and relates to numerous factors beyond the hormonal ones.
    But we need to be aware that there are a lot of these other factors and they, as undefined and un-weighted they may be, are the other motivations for nude photography by men of males, women of females, etc. So I support Lannie in his factoring-out exercise, which might succeed or not, but must be pursued with determination to identify the real aesthetic impact of nudes. And I fully subscribe Jim's statement as quoted above: we need to discuss the different impact from person to person. L.
     
  185. "Perception" is the topic, not analysis of the photo. How we perceive the photo is for me largely about the immediate impact on us. Then comes the analysis.
    --Lannie
     
  186. Lannie,
    I'm not sure if I am the addressee of your comment.
    Perception is exactly what I mean. The immediate impact.
    Which is in my opinion always mediated by our essence and our experience (please, not the technical experience).
    The real judgement on a photo is in my view totally unrelated to any technical analysis.
    L.
     
  187. Actually, I was not responding to you in that one, Luca, but I do appreciate your comments.
    Continuing with the idea that I started to develop above, here is what I might post if I were starting over with my post just above.
    ____________________________________________________________________________
    PERCEPTION FIRST, ANALYSIS LATER:
    Here is my original question, posted at the very outset of the thread: "Why does the photographic nude vary so greatly in its impact on us? More specifically, why do some nudes appear more naked than others?" (Emphasis supplied.)
    "Perception" qua "impact" is the topic as I meant it and assumed that others were reading it. I was not taling about analysis of the photo. How we perceive the photo is for me largely about the immediate or near immediate impact on us. Then comes the analysis. The perception of a nude photo can evoke a visceral response, especially if one is not expecting it. Analysis is a rational process that pretty quickly kills the physical or emotional reaction for me. I do not think that one can be faulted for one's reaction to being a bit surprised by an attractive nude form.
    The first time I came upon Francois B's "Frida" picture, I was not quite prepared for it:
    http://www.photo.net/photo/6448493
    After a moment or two I collected my wits and began to wonder how on earth she could keep that uncomfortable pose, as well as to ask whether the explicit nudity helped or hindered the esthetic value of the photo.
    So, I am not talking about cheesecake, but, since the nude can--at first glance--have what one might call a "cheesecake effect," then that effect is not so much about the photo but about the subliminal elements that go into the "first glimpse" or "first glance" reaction.
    So. . . for me this thread has been more about the perception qua first glimpse effect, but for others it was perhaps about something else.
    In any case, it was the first glimpse of Jim Phelps's "Deep Thought" photo that not only evoked a reaction, but which then stimulated me to think about it.
    Of course, some of you boys are going to tell me that you have never had a visceral reaction to the nude form as portrayed in a photo?
    The topic that I have been examining belongs as much to psychology or the philosophy of mind as it does to esthetics. There are a lot of things to analyze here. Analyzing our "reaction to the photo" for me implied our first reaction. For others it might have implied something else.
    While the brain works pretty quickly to sort out that the image is only an image, I do not think that it does so at the speed of light. I think that our autonomous nervous system responds before the rational-analytical part of the brain kicks in.
    --Lannie
     
  188. Lannie,
    By impact, do you mean the immediate emotional response of the viewer to the image? Is this how you define immediate impact and is the definition complete? If not, please elaborate.
    Jim
     
  189. " real aesthetic impact "
    Luca, this is not something I aspire to. For me, there is no purity of aesthetic impact, political impact, economic impact. This stuff is intertwined. I want my aesthetic impact to be informed by political and social impact, by what I know and by what I feel. I don't try to isolate out how I view things. I don't turn on and off all the various mechanisms that go into my responses to things. I am a biological and a cultural being, by nature. Yes, I can put myself into an aesthetic frame of mind, etc. I can control my hormones in various situations and I do. But there's no reason why, in a very significant way, my hormonal reaction isn't a very part of the essence of my aesthetic reaction just as is my political. I can view a film of Leni Riefenstahl and set my own political leanings aside to an extent if I want to in order to appreciate the artistry of her work. But I will still recognize the politics and the way the politics and the style inform each other will still be key to my response. The politics of Triumph of the Will can't be completely abstracted away from how the work affects me. I wouldn't want to be able to do that and I don't think I can. I, at least, am never able to start with a clean slate. I cannot view Riefenstahl's work and not be affected by the politics, though my reason can attempt to sort that stuff out. I would have to become a non-person in order to view in an aesthetically abstract or pure way. I wouldn't want to go there. I want to bring the fullness of my being to works of art and to photographs. That fullness includes politics, sex, genetics, context, etc. Though I can view a female nude and appreciate it aesthetically, I doubt it will have the associated impact that a male nude will have for me. Aside from the beauty of a nude, it is also flesh and blood. And I am flesh and blood as well, with all that goes along with that.
     
  190. "Don, sorry, didn't mean to slight you. I've been appreciating your responses here."
    Thanks, Fred. I've wondered whether they would be read as frivolous or snarky. I think Lannie has delineated the aesthetic of cheesecake. As for "theistic metaphysics" (re my comment about idolatry) I was thinking of the philosophers of the pagan revival: Iamblichus, Julian the Apostate, and Callistratus, the art critic http://www.theoi.com/Text/Callistratus.html
    "Are we then to believe that the vessel Argo,which was wrought by the hands of Athena and later assumed its allotted place among the stars, became capable of speech, and yet in the case of a statue into which Asclepius infused his own powers, introducing purposeful intelligence therein and thus making it a partner with himself, not believe that the power of the indwelling god is clearly manifest therein? Nay, more shall we admit that the divine spirit descends into human bodies, there to be even defiled by passions, and nevertheless not believe it in a case where there is no attendant engendering of evil? To me, at any rate, the object before our eyes seems to be, not an image, but a modelled presentment of truth; for see how Art not only is not without power to delineate character, but, after having portrayed the god in an image, it even passes over into the god himself. Matter though it is, it gives forth divine intelligence, and though it is the work of human hands, it succeeds in doing what handicrafts cannot accomplish, in that it begets in a marvellous way tokens of a soul."
     
  191. Yes, Jim, that ("immediate emotional response") was my meaning. In my comments above I might have failed to make the distinction between immediate reaction and delayed reaction myself, since rational analysis begins almost immediately, i.e., as soon as one comes to grip with the fact that the image is simply just an image. (I hope that my discussion of the "sense data" versus "direct perception" theories in the philosophy of mind makes a little more sense now--although I am not sure that it matters. I thought that it might.)
    As I said, however, Jim, the immediate impact of your photo then stimulated me to start thinking about why I had that immediate reaction. That would not require continued viewing of the image, beyond a certain point--a point that I made but was skewered by Julie for making it.
    In any case, the artistic depiction of a nude is not a photo of a roast chicken. A photo of a roast chicken does not make me drool. A photo of a naked woman, well. . . . I think that we are, depending on our sexual orientation, probably hard-wired to respond to an image of a naked woman in a different way than we respond to an image of a chicken. Even if we were starving to death, the imperative to reproduce would be pretty strong, I presume. Thus, although there are first impressions and first impressions in this world, the image of a naked woman might have a certain priority in terms of its impact on us--unless there is a bear chasing us and our immediate sexual response might better be delayed. Otherwise, I am probably going to put off dinner for just a bit unless my ethical system puts on the brakes. . . . That would depend on the identity of the woman and the circumstances, I suppose.
    Fortunately, the shock value of either a nude photo or a live naked woman can be brought under control by rational analysis, although happening on a nude on PN is a lot more likely than stumbling into a nude woman in real life. I have never, for example, stumbled onto a nude, strange woman in the flesh. I happen upon them all the time on PN, and one day it just happened to be an image of Rebecca. It obviously was not Rebecca herself, but the subconscious mind might not make the distinction fast enough. I really do not know.
    Presupposing my comments today is the presumption that certain visual patterns are indeed hard-wired into us. The triangle of pubic hair is a case in point. It might be a cushion for sexual activity, or it just might be decorative trim that gets our attention, not unlike the way (in reverse) female woodpeckers respond to the bright red head of the potential mate: immediate interest.
    Perhaps all these considerations are why nude photography evokes such varying moral judgments. Those who cannot get past the "first glimpse" reaction are likely going to frown on it. Those who can quickly get past that effect might go on to do such photography, or at least to offer critiques of it.
    Everything that I write here is coming out pretty unfiltered, in any case. I reserve the right to change my mind if I am obviously wide of the mark.
    Don, what can I say to your remark? "I think Lannie has delineated the aesthetic of cheesecake." No, not esthetics, immediate emotional reaction. Esthetic contemplation and analysis are not so immediate, in my opinion.
    I am glad that the thread "flared up" again. I had hoped that the other Rebecca had not driven a stake through its heart. There is obviously yet quite a lot to be thrashed out.
    --Lannie
     
  192. Don, thanks. I remain pagan and passionate. I think art is special but maybe not quite as special as the quote you supply makes out. I'm not interested in myself as a photographer or artist playing God. I'm happy to remain human and fall slightly short of THE TRUTH, though I may discover some truths along the way.
     
  193. Fred Goldsmith, May 01, 2010; 03:07 p.m.
    " real aesthetic impact "
    Luca, this is not something I aspire to. For me, there is no purity of aesthetic impact, political impact, economic impact.​
    I could not agree more. I realise how difficult it is to express myself clearly in a language which is not mine.
    Aesthetic impact to me is a mysterious compound where imaginable and unimaginable elements flow, rise and fall.
    The one and only element which I would try to single out is what you call lust: a mere hormonal drive. I realise that it is almost an impossible undertaking, requiring an almost unachievable effort, aimed to steer our nature.
    All other elements, and most likely the element of lust, have to stay there, have to be accepted as they are and - at least in my opinion - there is no real way to place them into generally acceptable categories and give them an universal weight.
    I love your statement "we cannot start with a blank slate". This is what I'm trying to bring through. Our being determines our emotional reaction.
    L.
     
  194. Don, thanks for the citation, but I think that the contemporary [near] equivalent might be the http://www.domai.com newsletter page, not my writings. That site or ATK Hairy (the visual equivalent of such stories) might better fit what you are describing. I am not sure, but I am quite sure that none of that is me! I do hate to see my views distorted and trivialized.
    Fred, thanks for the spirited argumentation. Whether I am being skewered or supported, it is better than being ignored--so far the reality where my published political and ethical theories are concerned.
    As for the tabula rasa or blank slate, immediate sexual response might short-circuit moral training and even the development of moral character through habituation. (Sounds rather Aristotelian to me.) I am not sure.
    --Lannie
     
  195. Luca, I think this is a very interesting line of thought to follow. We seem to agree to a great extent. I think I see lust a little differently and I think much art, even non-nudes and non-obiously-sexual art may have some sense of lust attached. Because lust is such a human passion, I think much art is driven by it. I don't think of lust as "mere" or in any way trivial or as something to be singled out or denied in order to fully appreciate a lot of art. As a matter of fact, I think recognition of and feeling many kinds of lust may be essential both to creating and to appreciating many of the great photographs and works of art.
    I don't think THIS BIOGRAPHY is named just for effect or just coincidentally. The word has a purposeful charge: sexual, sensual, and emotive.
     
  196. Luca, it sounds to me as if you and I are arguing pretty much the same way.
    Your English is great, by the way, and I think that you are handling abstract concepts very well in a language that is not your native tongue. Frankly, your English is better than most of our posters, in my opinion.
    Fred, I am not so sure that you and I are so far apart, after all, the more I read you.
    --Lannie
     
  197. Don, are you the same Don E who contributed to the original "The Power and the Glory"? Your tone sounds familiar.
    --Lannie
     
  198. "II do hate to see my views distorted and trivialized."
    Well, hang in there. Maybe someday you'll come to a different conclusion.
     
  199. "Don, are you the same Don E who contributed to the original "The Power and the Glory"? Your tone sounds familiar."
    Yes. Years before I started a thread here on the nude and the naked. It didn't go as well as yours. There were several threads prior to that, that year, I think. Some were pretty good.
     
  200. Thanks for responding, Don. I'm not trying to sound snarky, either.
    (What a great word, "snarky." I wonder when that one came along.)
    --Lannie
     
  201. Here is another by Jim Phelps:
    http://www.photo.net/photo/10782854
    Any opinions?
    --Lannie
     
  202. Lannie,
    The image obviously has some very significant post processing problems. It is not a good example.
     
  203. Dance.
     
  204. Lannie,
    Touching on your statement regarding the “shock value” of nudes, this varies significantly from culture to culture and geographical region to region. As you suggested earlier, it is highly unlikely that you would “happen upon” someone nude in the southeastern US. However, in Europe (and some beaches in other parts of the US), this is not uncommon. For instance, in Munich, Germany, public nudity is very accepted in certain public places such as the English Gardens. Nudity is common on many of the French Beaches. It has been my experience that the more this is accepted, the more artistic and less sexual the nude is viewed. This would seem to imply that, although nudity is a necessary condition for sexual stimulation (at least in the male), it is not a sufficient condition and that as exposure to nudity becomes more common, it becomes less sexual. It would also seem to imply that the more the viewer sees the nude as sexual the less he sees/appreciates it artistically. This would seem cause even a wider apparent variation in the perception of the nude. If the viewer’s emotional response is primarily sexual, all other emotional responses could be significantly surpressed.
     
  205. Does the 'power and glory' perspective exclude comedy and farce?
     
  206. "It would also seem to imply that the more the viewer sees the nude as sexual the less he sees/appreciates it artistically."

    Once again, I don't understand why sexual and lustful would be separated from "artistic." Art is not godly, prudish, or religious. Seeing art that way, for me, would be to destroy it. The nude is not pure and it is not Good. The nude is human and real. It even can have flaws. It can be artistic and sexualized at the very same time. Or not. There are no apexes of the nude to reach for, unless one wants to. One can limit themselves in regards to the nude if one wants. But art itself is more unlimited than that. I can focus on one or several aspects of the nude or open myself up to amazing possibilities with the nude. Even if I focus as a photographer, I can appreciate many different approaches to nudes as a viewer. I can be very sexual and very artistic at the same time. The can feed each other and strengthen each other.
     
  207. Does the 'power and glory' perspective exclude comedy and farce?​
    No, Don, you are definitely included.
    --Lannie
     
  208. Fred,
    what is art? And specifically, what is art in photography?
    Is the definition of art just dependent on the - supposed - artist/author?
    Do we have criteria/canons?
     
  209. Luca,
    The definition I use for art is "it provokes an emotional response from the viewer, the stronger the response, the 'better' the art".
     
  210. Very interesting.
    I absolutely agree on the emotional response. Would also like to add that it is at least bi-dimensional: the strength of the emotional response and the number of viewers which experience this emotional response.
    Is your definition universal or focused on photography?
     
  211. Luca,
    Universal to all art. I concur on the bi-dimensional aspect. I originally thought in terms of an average response, but adding the number of viewers makes sense, and allows better quantification.
    On a point of clarification, "artistic" should be changed to "aesthic" in the earlier post since a sexual response is an emotional response.
     
  212. Luca, I wouldn't begin to define art here, though I think it's much more than something that provokes an emotional response, since a slap in the face would provoke one and that's not art.
    I find discussions about art more productive than trying to define it. So I like this discussion about nudes and art. What I was saying to you is that I don't think art excludes lust. I don't think saying that requires a definition of art that's clear and exact, and I doubt a clear and exact definition could be satisfactorily given. I think art has a long history and encompasses several definitions and is really, like Beauty, Love, and Truth the subject for books and dissertations and not easily defined in a few sentences.
     
  213. "No, Don, you are definitely included."
    I try to be a well-rounded human being.
    Despite nearly 200 years of photographs arguing against the proposition, I do think the comic is art. Its general absence in the reknowned photographs of the reknowned masters of photography begs for an explanation. I'm sure any poster to this thread can name several motion picture directors, whose work is in comedy, they consider great art and the directors great artists. But who are the great comic photographers? From the gitgo, say in Athens, with Aristophanes, sex is a common theme in comedy. Sex and nakedness are funny, even silly, and photographs of them even moreso. This is an intrusion into the high seriousness of this discussion. But it is the comic's task to point out the emperor is naked, too. And silly.
     
  214. Don, you and God have at least one thing in common: if you did not exist, it would be necessary to invent you. You would most definitely be missed if you were not on this forum. Even God would need a court jester, one might surmise--and one as erudite as you is particularly needed here.
    Your acerbic wit actually is appreciated by me, even when you get on my case--usually pretty effectively, I confess.
    At the same time, your wit is also expressed so cryptically that one is often left wondering exactly what you mean, or what or who your target is. That is not necessarily a bad thing, simply an observation on how hard it is to "read" you at times. The internet is a treacherous place, I have found. People routinely misunderstand my remarks, or read into them a tone of disparagement which is not there. I am sure that the same thing sometimes happens at times to you as well.
    Thanks for being here, Don--and, no, that is not being said with a sarcastic tone.
    --Lannie
     
  215. "At the same time, your wit is also expressed so cryptically that one is often left wondering exactly what you mean, or what or who your target is."
    Fred wrote: "...the way you've approached the subject on both occasions, even slipping in the divine at a late point in the discussion...", and it is true. He notes the jump cut, the shift in context, "the target". There's also the jump cut to "true love", sexuality and similar real-world things. Both jump out of the context some of us thought was the topic: photographs of nudity and nakedness and the variety of response to them.
    So, I am uncertain which context I should be reading what you've written, and what context my writing will be read in by you (this seems to be perfect soil for mistatement and misunderstanding). I figure there's no point in me making a detailed post in such uncertainty.
     
  216. Mostly Lannie, but for Fred, Don, Jim and the others
    I think that even if we are in a philosophic domain, the analysis should not forget its scientific elements, most of all the conceptual framework behind the viewer.
    One thing I would like to mention upfront:
    • we cannot mention "the viewer" as an abstract entity. They are concrete persons;
    • emotions: they are individual, but there is also the possibility of experiencing the same or similar emotions. A photo of a newborn in a cradle might provoke emotions in the parents. A photo of the ruins of the WTC after 9/11 will provoke different and more diversified emotions among a larger population of viewers.
    And then there is the type of emotional impact - in case of nudes, for example:
    • just visual pleasure
    • visual sexual pleasure.
    As I have posted and as Jim Phelps has posted, the visual impact is an interaction between the photographer, the photo and the viewer.
    This non linear relationship is closely related to
    • the viewer's own cultural background
    • the viewer's moral background
    • the socioeconomic background
    • the geographic location
    For example:
    • the same nude picture will appear naked to a US Southern woman, nude to a New York/Los Angeles resident, indifferent to a Yanomami in the Amazonas, create great disturbance in a person living in a village in Southern Italy, be indifferent to a Londoner or somebody living in Munich;
    • the same nude picture will cause a reaction of high eroticism in a Brit, German or Italian in 1890 and be considered absolutely acceptable in 1925.
    And: to which extent does the individual reaction count, or should we rather categorise collective reactions?
    L.
     
  217. Lannie and Luca,
    Since there is not enough time or money to catagorize individual reactions, I suggest breaking the collective categorization into subgroups. The ones you have listed are a good start. The effectiveness of these groupings can be determined by the (probably metaphorical) standard deviation.
    Lannie and Luca,
    This certainly includes comedy. However, the reaction to a comic nude could be significantly different for some or all of these subgroups. It might be interesting to look at classic American Burlesque from this perspective.
     
  218. :).
    Tell Lannie! He is the OP!
     
  219. Trying to sort through all this is like doing the esthetic equivalent of an archeological dig all the way back to the Pleistocene. . . .
    The question as I posed it is really a difficult question, and I am not at all surprised by the divergence of responses once persons start taking it seriously and get away from the tangents that plagued the thread near the outset.
    The fact is that I do not know quite how to respond to you, Don, since all of us bring our conceptual and cultural baggage not only to the simple perception of the nude, but also to our further analysis of it. This is such fantastically complicated psychological and philosophical territory that I am not at all surprised, that is, that persons talk past each other. Even the concepts of "nude" and "naked" have come around in all kinds of different ways. "Defining one's terms" is very difficult in such complicated territory. Then there is the "intrusion" of various metaphysical elements and assumptions, with all of the hazards thereto appertaining.
    In any case, with regard to perception and response, I would say again to everyone that "Context is everything." If we could somehow take Rebecca's image out of the immediate setting and take away as well the lip gloss, convert to black and white, etc., we would have a very different image. If I were a fifteen-year-old boy from a culture where one never sees the female form undraped to any degree, my own perception would likewise be different. If I accidentally walked in on such a woman in a dressing woman, both my perception and reaction would likewise be (vastly!) different. The artistic imagination is so rich and varied, and the philosophical terrain so confusing and perilous, that I can hardly express surprise at the way the conversation has gone. I am glad that it has held together as well as it has.
    In any case, there are so many variables (especially the cultural and individual psychological ones) that I almost despair of making the kind of progress that I would really like. We are not even responding to the same interpretation of the question. Yet, even that, or especially that, does not surprise me.
    Despairing of offering a typology, much less any criteria for quantification of responses (even if we had the appropriate survey questionnaire instrument), I can only say that the original posting as well as subsequent posts have at least stimulated persons to further analysis. I see no tendency toward a convergence of opinion, in any case. Indeed, the longer the discussion goes on, the more multi-faceted the issues become. We are tending toward greater complexity rather than toward simplicity, much less unity. This is, as I said, perilous philosophical territory. Jim's comments above about European v. southeastern U.S. norms and perceptions get right to the point for me--and then there is all the meta-theoretical stuff that we (and especially I) have laid down on top of our own perceptions and prima facie analyses.
    I doubt that anyone has written the definitive work on such topics, although some of the cultural anthropologists would likely dismiss most of the analysis here as so much cultural baggage.
    Well, again, there is "nature v. nurture," and though most of our differences might indeed be about "nurture" (cultural baggage), there is still good old human nature to consider, no matter how much that concept might be maligned by this or that school of psychology.
    Finally, there are those who say "It is about the image," to which I can only say, well, yes, it is, but it is finally about us, and about what happens when we and the image come face to face, whether on the screen, or in real life.
    Here, in any case, is the original image that triggered all this:
    http://www.photo.net/photo/8937273&size=md
    Please keep in mind as well my original quandary: she is not showing buttocks, nipples, pubic hair, genitalia or any specific body part that we might typically associate with nude photography--and is indeed showing less than one might see at the beach--and yet the overall effect is what it is: nude, and, more than that, naked, at least to me.
    So. . . don't look to me for any answers, nor even any adequate summation of the issues and questions. I don't have them. The original question was an honest question. I did not know the answer when I posted it, and I am not sure that I am closer now to being able to answer my own question.
    Thanks to those of you who have tried.
    --Lannie
     
  220. Lannie,
    I believe that you did a good summary.
    Sometimes recognising that the answer is not ready at hand is a result, especially in philosophy and aesthetics.
    Nevertheless I recognise some convergence in positions.
    L.
     
  221. jtk

    jtk

    The people who have posted most trenchantly here seem to have been ignored...
    ...they addressed obvious psychological, biological and cultural realities, rather than faux-philosophic word games. It happens that most of those people are women.
    Only a few men here have suggested that they see photography in relation to wisdom, the pursuit of which is classically specified as the purpose of philosophy.
    The seeming-avoidance of women's ideas, and the objectivization of women as subjects, along with the preoccupation with word games, suggests an active aversion to wisdom. IMO of course :)
     
  222. "Please keep in mind as well my original quandary: she is not showing buttocks, nipples, pubic hair, genitalia or any specific body part that we might typically associate with nude photography--and is indeed showing less than one might see at the beach--and yet the overall effect is what it is: nude, and, more than that, naked, at least to me."
    and in the OP "Why does the photographic nude vary so greatly in its impact on us? More specifically, why do some nudes appear more naked than others?"
    It is obvious that "naked" and "more naked than" means something more to you than the common meaning. "her look of wide-eyed innocence" seems to be part of the "more naked than". Nakedness becomes fused to "innocence" and then at some point in the shift to "divinity", I find myself bumping my head into the Tree of Life. Nakedness (I'm giving you a blow by blow description of how I read you)...nakedness is Edenic, before sexuality.
    But, alas, we, the viewers, are post-Edenic and our responses are 'varied'. My response to viewing "Deep Thought" was 'nice cheesecake'. Perhaps the tropes of classic cheesecake are the secular version of Edenic naked innocence. Cheesecake is comic. It also has a 'before sexuality' quality although it is compromised by us being post-Edenic. That leads me to the Poetics. Aristotle wrote that comedy originated in the prologues to the phallic processions (aka fertiltiy rites)*. The close association of comedy and sexuality -- and Aristotle's comedy is mocking buffoonery, physical and explicit -- which leads me to note it as a symmetry to the close association, the parsimony of intelligent design, of our erogenous zones and our elimination zones. Not to mention the point of "fertility rites" itself.
    I'm not sure what context fits "metaphysics", but there's that, too, to untangle. And there's more...
    .
    *he also states that the origins of comedy are obscure because nobody took it seriously, nyuk nyuk nyuk
     
  223. John, you might be right, but I have little to add to that conversation. Shall we dispense with the female nude altogether? There was no way to respond to the other Rebecca. Fred tried but came away with claw marks. Julie is clever, but how does one respond to "Dance." Now, if it had been "Dance?" I would have responded. After all, she's just up the road "a piece" from where I live. As for Zoe, I did try, but she is a model and a photographer, after all, who shoots women in the nude. I don't. Shall I tell her to stop objectifying women? She has made her choices. I didn't expect her to consult me, and what could I have said if she had (now there is a fantasy for you)?
    Fred, I stumbled onto this minutes ago:
    http://www.photo.net/photo/7044442
    How would one compare this to Rebecca's? She's not wearing clothes, but he is arguably revealing more (buttocks, at least). Who is more naked (corollary to my original question)? I still say that she is, if only because the absence of clothes suggests more than what one sees. I don't see how to keep the artistic imagination from roaming. The mind goes where it will--and where it goes affects both perception and response, I believe.
    (Gosh, I hope that Jule comes back, unless she is intent on roasting me.)
    Don, metaphysical assumptions "inform" (gosh, I hate that usage) almost everything I write in philosophy, but I am not trying to build a system here. Nonetheless, I draw from my pre-existing biases where ultimate assumptions are concerned. I see no real alternative. I allude to them where they are relevant to me. I am sorry if that sometimes makes them unintelligible to persons coming from differing mindsets.
    "Luca, my most valued friend, what can I do for you?" [line from The Godfather] I have appreciated your comments. Please write some more. I won't send you to visit the Tattaglias, nor ask you to find out what "that Sollozo fellow has under his fingernails."
    I have an idea for the original question: LET'S GO ASK PNINA!
    --Lannie
     
  224. I do think the comic is art. Its general absence in the reknowned photographs of the reknowned masters of photography begs for an explanation. I'm sure any poster to this thread can name several motion picture directors, whose work is in comedy, they consider great art and the directors great artists. But who are the great comic photographers?
    The surrealists come closest to that I would think, and in the context of this thread, Kertesz distorted nudes, surreal and comical, comical and surreal, not any less deep in meaning and "seriousness".
    http://www.all-art.org/art_20th_century/surrealist_art/kertesz/62.jpg
    http://www.higherpictures.com/artists/Andre_Kertesz/images/23b.jpg
    http://www.higherpictures.com/artists/Andre_Kertesz/images/s0162.jpg
     
  225. Lannie, the picture you posted is beefcake, about the level of a Playgirl magazine shot. Nothing I'd be interested in discussing in relationship to "the nude" or "naked" photographs. Nothing that stimulates me philosophically, photographically, or aesthetically. If that's what you're going on about in this thread, I'm disappointed. Let's get out our Playboys and Playgirls and compare tits and pecs, I suppose. I hope this isn't the kind of picture you've been thinking of when I've talked about sensuality or sexuality with regard to the nude. This is simply a beefcake snapshot with very little aesthetic, artistic, or photographic worth to me. I have no idea why you posted it and what you'd want to discuss about it.
     
  226. I don't know that the quality of the shot matters for discussing the issue at hand, Fred, but if you want to rant, rant.
    I went looking for neither shot, nor am I going to go looking. I happened onto both, and they raised the questions that they raised.
    Trying to be civil to you is like casting pearls before swine.
    --Lannie
     
  227. "Don, metaphysical assumptions "inform" (gosh, I hate that usage) almost everything I write in philosophy, but I am not trying to build a system here. Nonetheless, I draw from my pre-existing biases where ultimate assumptions are concerned. I see no real alternative. I allude to them where they are relevant to me. I am sorry if that sometimes makes them unintelligible to persons coming from differing mindsets."
    I don't know whether I'm of a different mindset because I don't know what linneage of metaphysics you situate yourself. "Theistic metaphysics" is not much of a clue.
    "Whether we are talking about the beauty and power of the nude or the awe, majesty, and inspiration of true love, the role of the divine is still there as the ultimate possible explanatory variable. The questions remain for me. As I said, I have no answers. I am still trying to get the questions straight."
    Metaphysics has to resolve the impassible problematic, which is what I think you refer to "The ultimate puzzle is the epistemological one: how do we know? How could we?" (emph. in orig.)
    We can only be "informed". We know we cannot 'pass' through the divide between material and spiritual by our reason alone and therefore know. We need the ineffable condescension of Divinity to inform us. One way that happens is through works of art. Is that anywhere near what you mean?
     
  228. "I don't see how to keep the artistic imagination from roaming."
    Lannie, above is what you said in your followup to the beefcake shot you posted. I was telling you that the shot doesn't engage my artistic mind. It wasn't a rant, or at least wasn't meant as a rant. It has nothing to do with quality. It's got to do with the kind of photo it is. There's lots of bad art that I would consider discussing with regard to the nude. This photo is not just bad. It's outside the realm of anything I would discuss and use the phrase "artistic imagination" alongside.
     
  229. Don E (Welcome back, btw) - "But who are the great comic photographers?"


    Off the top of my head: Elliott Erwitt, Doisneau, Trent Parke, Lee Friedlander, Edward Weston, Ed van der Elsken, Kertesz, Judy Dater, Robert Adams, Daido Moriyama, Lartigue, Eisenstaedt, Philippe Halsman, William Klein, Wolfgang Tillmans, Fischl & Weiss, Les Krims, Arthur Tress, Duane Michals, Imogen Cunningham, Bruce Nauman, Man Ray, Alice Springs, Weegee, etc.
     
  230. We need the ineffable condescension of Divinity to inform us. One way that happens is through works of art.​
    Don, that might be close enough, although, given the usual connotation of "condescension." that is not precisely how I would have worded it. The role of the divine is what unites for me many seemingly disparate concepts and issues--on my own metaphysics, of course.
    Fred, I don't go out of my way to look at male nudes. It's nothing personal. It just isn't my thing. When I happened onto this "beefcake" shot (while checking out the portfolio of someone who had responded to me on another thread earlier this afternoon), I was reminded immediately of how I had described the Rebecca shot: no revealed buttocks, nipples, pubic hair, genitalia. He revealed more than she, but she seemed more naked to me: beginning and end of my point.
    I certainly did not care for the shot, either, but it was all that I had by way of an example on the other side of a gender line--and I had the link, so I posted it here. I'm sure that I could have found more or better, but I thought that it raised the pertinent comparison.
    I cannot relate to beefcake, and I avoid cheesecake. Perhaps Jim's shot can be called cheesecake, and some disparaged it early on. I found it appealing and it raised an interesting intellectual question. To me the model bespoke "wholesomeness" even if the setup did not. That, however, is to start down a very different path. . . .
    The nature and significance of erotica could be a thread unto itself, but it is not one that I would like to start. There is, after all, erotica and then there is erotica. Generally speaking, as I have said, the erotic for me must be wholesome (admittedly, most of the time). Thus, the allusion to "girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes" is very appealing to me without being a physical turn-on (from "These Are a Few of My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music). I can see the image in my mind. The most beautiful woman in the world tied up with cord, leather, or cuffs, however, turns me off totally. Erotica and the erotic can move around in my mind, however, and what entices me today may leave me cold tomorrow. What I like about Jim's work is that it sums up in almost all cases what I would call the "wholesome nude"--perhaps my own category, but also one of the criteria that I apply when assessing the appeal of nudes, which is not necessarily to say their enduring work as art.
    Certainly the "beefcake" shot did not appeal to me on any level, and I was not offering it up here as something for esthetic evaluation--only to make the point that I have made with it.
    --Lannie
     
  231. "Off the top of my head: Elliott Erwitt, Doisneau..."
    I'd just watched Tati's Mr Hulot's Holiday before writing that, and it reminded me of Doisneau. I don't know if any of the photographers you list are reknowned as comic photographers, but Doisneau's humor is recognized -- and maybe affects the esteem he is held in by some.
     
  232. Phylo,
    I had not seen Kertesz's distorted nudes before, I really like them.
    Thanks,
    Jim
     
  233. "We need the ineffable condescension of Divinity to inform us. One way that happens is through works of art."​
    "Don, that might be close enough, although, given the usual connotation of "condescension." that is not precisely how I would have worded it. The role of the divine is what unites for me many seemingly disparate concepts and issues--on my own metaphysics, of course."
    I should have used quotation marks. "ineffable condescension" is from St John Chrysostom referring to the Incarnation. If it is "close enough", then perhaps the quotation from Callistratus is not so far off the mark as you had indicated. Similarly, one's personal metaphysics is not open to discussion until others are informed of it.
    With awareness of the hyperbole, the western tradition begins with the words "Sing, O Goddess", and our philosophy since is the measure of our straining to hear.
    Regards
     
  234. one's personal metaphysics is not open to discussion until others are informed of it.​
    Shall I preface each post with my entire 1994 book? Here is a link to it: http://www.philosophicalquestions.org/PAXtitlePAGE.html . It goes some hundreds of pages. How much should I summarize before I meet your stringent requirements for posting here? Chapter seven deals directly with metaphysical questions, but in fact there is no chapter that is free of it. There is no chapter on esthetics, and the only chapter that deals with sexual ethics has yet to be uploaded to the web.
    Don, do not expect someone like me to speak "non-metaphysically." That is for post-modernists and deconstructionists.
    Metaphysics is hard work, and showing how my own metaphysics is related to (which I prefer to "informs") my ethics and esthetics is not simple--certainly not something that I can easily do in a thread on Photo.net. I will not for that reason bypass allusions to it. People who are serious about philosophical conversation are aware that they are always jumping into conversations that have been ongoing for about 2,400 years. The only way that one learns to play this game is to to play it, not tell others how they should play it. I have been playing it since 1968, and I am still disoriented at times when I hear others make allusions to this and that--but I keep my ears open and try to pick up on the subtleties of various lines of argumentation. It is a good game to play, but it requires a lot more than the snide aside to catch the meaning and intent of what another is trying to convey.
    I doubt that it is possible to do serious philosophy on Photo.net, but I keep trying. One need not go all the way back to Homer to get started. Plato is far enough.
    --Lannie
     
  235. Here are a few more photos by Jim Phelps to throw into the mix:
    http://www.photo.net/photo/6148002
    http://www.photo.net/photo/7464907
    http://www.photo.net/photo/7464909
    Again, what is striking to me is that, in spite of the fact that all three photos are more revealing of the body, the formal treatment sets a different tone from the "Deep Thought" photo featuring Rebecca as the model:
    http://www.photo.net/photo/8937273&size=md
    The result of this formal tone (for me at least) is that the "Deep Thought" photo featuring Rebecca gives a greater sense of "nakedness" than the three posted above hers, although (again) hers shows much more of the externalities. The others are simply "nude." The body is open to display, but there is no entry into the soul--as I sense that there is in the photo of Rebecca. How was that accomplished? I would have to ask Jim Phelps about that. He did the shoot.
    As for Rebecca, here are some others in which she is the model:
    http://www.photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=894886
    There are others as well. There is also a good portfolio featuring Meliss:
    http://www.photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=890728
    Are there better examples in Edward Weston, Helmut Newton, and others? Of course there are, but these are the ones that I have chosen to link to. Any other links would be welcome by those who have the time.
    --Lannie
     
  236. Given that I write on Christian ethics, there might be those who wonder how I might also try to post very publicly on the web about the matters treated here, including photos that are often considered indecent not only by many Christians but by many others as well.
    I can only say that I have met persons who seem to be able to view nudes with total innocence and lack of lust. There are also those cultures in which persons wear no clothes but who are obviously not as promiscuous as persons in cultures where much clothing is the norm.
    It thus seems to be that such persons have learned something about factoring out nudity from sexuality that many of us have not, and we do well to try to figure out what it is. American puritanism sometimes to be panting with lust at its fury about such things. A fuller capacity to appreciate the nude in art (whether photography, painting, or dance) thus requires, in my opinion, that we also learn how to factor out nudity from sexuality. The point is not to desexualize the nude. One cannot desexualize a beautiful woman if one covers her from head to toe, as the Victorians found out. There is nothing to be gained in trying. At the same time, however, there is much to be gained from being able to get past the nudity at times to appreciate much more than appears to the eye.
    As for those who think that this kind of post is simply an excuse for ogling pictures of naked women, I can only say that, if that is what one wants to do, there are a lot easier ways than either starting and contributing to this thread or doing the kinds of photography that some very fine photographers are doing.
    That said, the average nude on Photo.net is rather mediocre, in the same way that the average landscape is rather mediocre. There is also a lot of pure (and sometimes rather sleazy) erotica, although I still think that photosick.com still has us beat hands down in that category.
    --Lannie
     
  237. ERRATUM
    The 8:41 p.m. post by me above contains an error in the following paragraph:
    The result of this formal tone (for me at least) is that the "Deep Thought" photo featuring Rebecca gives a greater sense of "nakedness" than the three posted above hers, although (again) hers shows much more of the externalities. The others are simply "nude."​
    It should, of course, say that "hers shows much less of the externalities."
    I regret the error and any others that I have made.
    --Lannie
     
  238. "With awareness of the hyperbole, the western tradition begins with the words 'Sing, O Goddess', and our philosophy since is the measure of our straining to hear."
    Though the English translations tend to start with the phrase 'Sing, O Goddess', the Iliad actually begins, quite significantly, with the Greek word menin, which means WRATH. Anger is what begins and runs through the Iliad, and the consequences of Achilles' anger is very much what the poem is about. I don't find philosophy to be about straining to hear. I find it to be about the love of wisdom, which is acquired not just by straining or by hearing. Philosophy is proactive, not just passive and reactive. It requires me to talk as well as to listen, to create argument as well as to delve into the arguments of others. Same for nudes. They are not simply, for me, pictures waiting to be responded to. They require something of me . . . often passion. I give to them.
    "A fuller capacity to appreciate the nude in art (whether photography, painting, or dance) thus requires, in my opinion, that we [my emphasis] also learn how to factor out nudity from sexuality."
    I, personally, find that a too restrictive kind of appreciation. It's abstract, impossible, and unnecessary, for me. It would zap the life out of art for me to seek such a disciplined requirement, such a rule-oriented and cleansed approach to a subject so full of so much possibility . . . sexual, sensual, emotive, physical, and otherwise.
     
  239. Lannie: "How much should I summarize before I meet your stringent requirements for posting here?"
    If I were to write that my opinion or beliefs are Marxist or Christian, you would be justified in asking me 'which Marxism?", 'which Christianity?' I ask 'which metaphysics?' No thesis on Marxism, Christianity or metaphysics required.
    Fred: "Though the English translations tend to start with the phrase 'Sing, O Goddess', the Iliad actually begins, quite significantly, with the Greek word menin, which means WRATH. Anger is what begins and runs through the Iliad, and the consequences of Achilles' anger is very much what the poem is about. I don't find philosophy to be about straining to hear."
    That is literally true. But what the poem is about isn't relevant here. What is relevant is the relationship between the divine and the human, between the goddess and the aoidoi. Perhaps you know the citation (I don't...the Republic?) for Plato's discussion of poets and the performance of the rhapsodes. Poets feign. The goddess does not sing to them. They repeat what they have memorized, feigning divine inspiration and the fury of possession. It's a performance. On balance, Plato had the evidence of Socrates and his daemon. If Socrates is at the beginning of our philosophical tradition, then 'hearing' is there, too, no matter it is not of much interest the past 1500 years (leaving room for the late neoplatonists, such as Iamblichus).
     
  240. That was one fine darned exchange, gentlemen. Thank you.
    I won't respond now, but only because my semester grades have to be in by tomorrow at 5 p.m.
    --Lannie
     
  241. "But what the poem is about isn't relevant here."
    It is for me. What the poem is about is always relevant. Just as the photo is relevant. We can discuss philosophy in the abstract or we can discuss the philosophy of photography. That's why I considered Lannie's response to me so inadequate when I questioned his choice of the beefcake photo as example. He said, in effect, that the photo itself wasn't relevant: "I'm sure that I could have found more or better, but I thought that it raised the pertinent comparison." I had suggested that if we were here to talk about nudity or nakedness in terms of the amount of skin that were showing or whose buttocks we were each more inclined to like, maybe the photo he chose could have relevance, superficial and shallow at best. But in terms of philosophy about photographic nudes, sorry, it seemed and still seems irrelevant.
    In order to make the Iliad relevant, what the poem is about is signficant. The Iliad is about a flesh and blood character caught up in his own passionate responses to events, his own uncontrollable anger. That has everything to do with the topic at hand. What Lannie (and Plato) are trying to do is wipe humanity clean from itself. They are both, in their own ways, trying to rid themselves (and others . . . thus Lannie's use of "we") of human passions, like anger and sexuality (or in Plato's case, sensuality or at least trust in the senses). Lannie's desire to see the nude photograph in some sort of pure form void of sexuality and participating only in Truth and Beauty -- two concepts or qualities very close to Plato's Forms, which are the height of abstraction and a far cry from the humanity of passion and the senses -- can be answered by filling in the human content rather than remaining in an abstract and unattainable Godlike purity. It is precisely the WRATH of the Iliad that is the point of relevance for me to this discussion. As the anger of the Iliad was omitted, so the substance and humanity of the nude has been omitted in most of Lannie's discussion and most if not all of his examples. I consider Plato's missing of the essential elements and significance of poetry a similar misstep. Aristotle had a better answer to Plato's mischaracterizations of art. I'm trying to supply my own more finite, human, and passionate answer to Lannie's musings about the nude.
    I have asked Lannie about something similar (why he has chosen only female nudes as examples) to this . . .
    "I don't go out of my way to look at male nudes. It's nothing personal. It just isn't my thing."
    . . . and as far as I can tell he hasn't addressed it. He suggests he's trying to move away from sexualizing the nude and has agreed with those who claim that art requires removing sexuality from the nude equation. His examples are all female and I don't think I'm wrong in assuming Lannie is straight (he may or may not have mentioned that in the past). He is talking about the beauty and truth of the nude and the nude removed from sexuality and wanting to consider the nude on a different plane yet male nudes are not his thing. I can't help but see some sexuality wrapped up in that. Though I'm gay, it's hard for me to imagine myself making a similar statement and suggesting that female nudes aren't my thing. I find them as compelling and significant, as moving and emotive as male nudes. And I do so not because I desexualize or sexualize either, but because it's how I see.
     
  242. Fred, I think you have less patience in this discussion than I do, or at least you move quickly while my pace is more measured. You make a good case for the relevance of the anger of Achilles to this thread. It is late and I have a Spring cold coming on, but I want to engage in the discussion with you.
    For now, I'll try to clarify what I mean by "our philosophy since is the measure of our straining to hear". It might have been better to write 'metaphysics' rather than implicating philosophy in general, and to have specifically referred to the theologizing of philosophy as happened to Neoplatonism, until, when we come to the pagan revival, it has acquired the cultic apparatus of a religion. The revival was not an attempt to get back to the status quo ante the imperialization of Christianity, but rather to a condition known in the Jewish and Christian traditions as 'Edenic', when gods and men communicated face-to-face. "Hearing", whether a personal god such as Socrates daemon, oracles, such as Delphi, disembodied souls, daemons, gods in dreams and visions, occupy the first place of authority and authenticity in ancient societies. Late Neoplatonic theurgy attempted to persuade or attract divinity to possess a medium (usually a young country girl, uneducated, illiterate "innocent" and suggestible) or enter an idol and speak. Soon enough, the silence was deafening or the speech incoherent...too much noise, and no signal.
    "The Iliad is about a flesh and blood character caught up in his own passionate responses to events, his own uncontrollable anger. That has everything to do with the topic at hand."
    I note the wrath of Achilles was stayed by grey-eyed Athene "Hold your hand then, and obey us" she says (214). The goddess does for Achilles what the daemon does for Socrates. Socrates' daemon speaks when he is about to make a mistake. Achilles anger may be uncontrollable...until he hears the goddess speak.
    I'll be using Lattimore for quotations.
     
  243. Gentlemen,
    I think sometimes your posts are too long to facilitate comprehension.
    That said, if we do not agree on a terminology, and are a bit rigorous in developing thoughts it will be utmost difficult to construct a sequential reasoning (which doesn't necessarily advocate linearity).
    The original post is about the perception of nude photography.
    Maybe it helps to start from non-nude photography and then investigate what nudes add.
    1. Technique: let's take it for granted. Let's assume that the author of any photo, including nudes, is mastering technical aspects to the extent that s/he is capable of achieving the intended visual impact;
    2. Visual impact: I would say that it is some emotional response to viewing a photo. This varies from person to person and from culture to culture. To some extent it could be placed on a positive-negative scale passing through neutrality, which equals indifference [please do not confuse it with rating, it has nothing to do with it];
    3. Determinants of visual impact. Emotions provoked: love, hate, desire, disgust, peace, anger, greed, possession, envy, tranquillity, agitation, stress, fear, curiosity, harmony, disharmony, proportions and disproportions, power. Boredom. This is in my opinion particularly important: something frequently seen, seen everywhere, lowers the level of emotional impact of a photo;
    4. The viewer's being: the triggered emotions depend on the viewers, their background, experience, culture, morals, emotional status. As Fred said, the visual impact is never on a blank slate.
    Nudes
    • The visual impact of nudes includes all the above, plus
    • some type of sexual response, related to our sexual identity. I believe it's in the nature of humanity. It's related to the instinct of conservation of the species and to the sensing and satisfaction of mental and physical pleasure.
    None of the above can be factored out. It's our being.
    I believe one challenge is to find out the visual impact of nude photography beyond the sexual response.
     
  244. "Let's assume that the author of any photo, including nudes, is mastering technical aspects to the extent that s/he is capable of achieving the intended visual impact"
    I can't make that assumption. I think the vast majority of photos we see don't achieve the intended visual impact, or much visual impact at all. That's why the examples we choose are so significant. I also think photographic impact goes beyond visual impact and many photographers fail to recognize that they are creating or working within the photographic realm and not just the visual realm. Sunsets are often visually arresting yet photographs of visually arresting sunsets are often mundane and boring. A nude body is often visually compelling while many photographs of nude bodies (as with the male shot and others Lannie has referenced) aren't. Pose, expression, moment, technique (as you mention, Luca), and other factors are crucial.
    "Visual impact: I would say that it is some emotional response to viewing a photo."
    I agree but would also add that perception is a key as well, even before the response. What and how I see is significant, which will impact how I feel.
    "Emotions provoked: . . . "
    I like this one best. I find myself, when viewing photographs and art in general, often operating at two (or more) levels: 1) experiencing particular emotions; 2) transcending specific emotions to where I experience an aesthetic appreciation . . . awe. While I may avoid sadness in my day-to-day dealings, I may seek it out in a work of art. The sadness part is the same, but there is something added to the sadness of a poem or photograph that transcends that sadness as well . . . usually. There are other factors in viewing photographs: empathy, intimacy, artificiality. Importantly, photographs and art are made, crafted.

    "The visual impact of nudes includes all the above, plus some type of sexual response"

    I think intimacy of the flesh is a key. While I don't minimize or try to "rise above" my sexual responses to nudes (in the making or in the viewing), I don't reduce nudes to sexuality either. It's why, for me, the discussion of Plato is relevant. Plato elevates the intellectual (Wisdom) above the sensual, mistakenly in my opinion. For Plato, an intimate relationship to flesh can only be a stepping stone to the more divine faculty of mind and the pursuit of Knowledge. In a nude photograph or painting, flesh can be the point in a most unPlatonic way. Sometimes in life and sometimes in a photograph, what we see is what we get.
    ____________________________________________
    Don, I tried to make the Iliad relevant to my discussion of photographs. I'm not sure if you see any such relevance. I understand what you're saying about hearing and philosophy or metaphysics in the abstract. Is there an application of that to photographs?
     
  245. Fred,
    interesting remarks. Will look better into the relationship between intellectual and sensual. I tend to agree with you.
    Just one note:
    "Let's assume that the author of any photo, including nudes, is mastering technical aspects to the extent that s/he is capable of achieving the intended visual impact"
    I can't make that assumption. I think the vast majority of photos we see don't achieve the intended visual impact, or much visual impact at all​
    I agree: the vast majority of photos we see don't achieve the intended visual impact, or much visual impact at all. Maybe snooty, but I'm firmly convinced of it.
    My assumption is merely theoretical an serves the purpose not to enter the discussion whether a particular technical aspect in a photo is there by mere chance, or whether it was a conscious decision in view of a particular visual effect, whether achieved or not.
    In other words, the subject we are discussing is so complex that I want to avoid deciding whether a cut-off limb, a non-square frame, a snapshotty look, a flat tonality are there because of a mistake or rather a conscious creative choice.
    I hope I managed to explain myself. If not I'd be happy to try again.
     
  246. Sunsets are often visually arresting yet photographs of visually arresting sunsets are often mundane and boring. A nude body is often visually compelling while many photographs of nude bodies (as with the male shot and others Lannie has referenced) aren't.​
    Yes ! how it's also about the photographer and the photograph being compellingly photographic, besides the subject evoking a response for simply being half nude or naked.
     
  247. "Don, I tried to make the Iliad relevant to my discussion of photographs. I'm not sure if you see any such relevance. I understand what you're saying about hearing and philosophy or metaphysics in the abstract. Is there an application of that to photographs?"
    We would disagree about the serviceability of the Iliad for the purpose, but find much agreement here (as you wrote):
    "Lannie's desire to see the nude photograph in some sort of pure form void of sexuality and participating only in Truth and Beauty -- two concepts or qualities very close to Plato's Forms, which are the height of abstraction and a far cry from the humanity of passion and the senses..."
    Setting aside "Lannie's desire", are you suggesting it is impossible for a nude photograph to be "void of sexuality and participating only in Truth and Beauty" (and I mean the straightforward nude, not the decontextualized type we call "abstract", nor the distortions we call "surreal")? That I would want to explore. I'm not asserting anything about the possibility, and -- full disclosure -- I know little to less about nude photography and the only time I've been in a studio with a naked model was in drawing classes 20 years ago. I can suggest two nude paintings for comparison.
    http://www.opendemocracy.net/content/articles/2109/images/Birth%20of%20Venus_crop%202.jpg
    http://aaron-white.net/Large%20Pictures/William-Adolphe_Bouguereau_(1825-1905)_-_The_Birth_of_Venus_(1879).jpg
    I share your thoughts about the absence (or impoverished representation) of the male nude in the OP's posts and the obvious disinclination to explore it. Hardly anything more need be noted about them to realize this thread, no matter the metaphysics, is informed by sex. Over the years we have both pointed out here that nudes were almost always male for most of western history (I don't think there is a Greek female nude until the Hellenistic). Avoiding the male nude will seriously limit one's knowledge and comprehension of, at least western, art.
    I have a question about "beefcake" and its pairing with "cheesecake". I consider cheesecake to be a comic genre, but I don't find the comic in the beefcake image. Being a straight man I may be missing allusions. There's no doubt at all that the comic is possible (A gay parade will offer many examples of the comic). Of course, not all cheesecake is comic.
     
  248. Beefcake: To me, sometimes comic, sometimes annoying. Sometimes a turn-on. Sometimes a mindless trifle. Sometimes objectifying and negative. I find some comedy in Mapplethorpe, though it's a bit more than beefcake. Abercrombie and Fitch catalogs are annoying when I think about them, especially socio-politically, but I admit an attraction when I'm thumbing through the pages. I'm OK contradictions Beefcake (and some cheesecake) also seems comic (campy) relative to the times. There's beefcake from the fifties, guys in posing straps, supposedly showing off their gymlike attributes at a time when homosexual appetites were more closeted and so they were made to seem as if they had ulterior motives. I look back at them with humor but I doubt that was how they were viewed at the time. It's also sad. I'm sure those fifties guys had a myriad of conflicting judgments and feelings as they viewed. Comedy may come into play in beefcake because of its mimicking of cheesecake and so, perhaps, playing with gender roles and identities. Beefcake can be an exaggeration, either feminizing its male models (objectification, etc.) or hyper-masculinization of the male figures, the Herculean or Olympic syndrome.
    Regarding your other point, Don, I'm an it-all-goes-into-the-mix kind of guy. I don't think there are pure truths or pure beauty and I don't think nudes can be purified from lots of things, sexuality included, but also culture, gender identity, sexual-orientation, family history, etc. I think we may set sexuality and cultural stuff aside to a greater or lesser extent, but I think we kid ourselves if we think we can purify anything, really. And I think to purify or abstract out things like sexuality is often to miss the point of a photograph or art. There are contexts and sub-plots in everything, and I find I do well to keep aware of that in my various relationships and transactions. My sexuality not only informs how I view nudes, it informs how I relate to people I work with. It's part of me. How significant it is at any given time is a matter of degree and may be a matter of what I'm looking at. But I don't turn these things (sexuality, culture, genetics, personal experience, geography) on and off at will, except by degrees. I don't think photography or art are about some ideal state, free of the fullness of my humanity and all that comprises me as a person. It transcends, sure. But it utilizes that which it transcends in its transcendence. It is a dialogue in that respect . . . down to earth, sometimes even mired in the mud, and soaring to great heights . . . all at once.
     
  249. this thread, no matter the metaphysics, is informed by sex.​
    Heavens! Do you mean, Don, that the female nude has something to do with sexual attraction, subliminal or otherwise? I had no idea!!
    I share your thoughts about the absence (or impoverished representation) of the male nude in the OP's posts and the obvious disinclination to explore it.​
    Hey, Don, while you are at it, tell Fred to post some male nudes of his own selection. You may also do so if you think that they are underrepresented on this site. I never claimed to own the thread. I happen to think that esthetics is often significantly "informed" by sexuality, which is why I prefer the female nude--but I have also said that the sexual "jolt" can get in the way of further appreciation of the nude photo or painting. The male nude bores me to death in all but a few cases, but that does not mean that I have any aversion to analyzing it and appreciating it esthetically to the extent that I can. Why have you guys posted none of your own?
    You guys have been arguing against this "Lannie as Platonist" conception for so many paragraphs now that you seem to have lost sight of the fact that you are defeating your own straw man: I am no Platonist, although I am a bit more the rationalist and less the empiricist than either or both of you may be. I just do not get a lot of philosophical inspiration from Homer, but I do agree with Alfred North Whitehead that "all philosophy is a footnote to Plato." Even so, though Plato anticipated most of the problems of philosophy, I hardly find myself in agreement with him when it comes to answers--and please take note of the fact that Whitehead (and his sidekick, Bertrand Russell) were empiricists, not rationalists, especially not of the platonic ilk.
    What informs this thread above all for me is a concern for the psychology of the appreciation of nude photography, not primary the esthetics of nude photography. My examples have come largely from Jim Phelps, not to mention Manet, but my citations have come from those interested in the philosophy of mind, such as J. L. Austin, or from the linguistic philosophers, such as Wittgenstein (both empiricists, by the way, though I am more the rationalist). Yet, yet, to the extent that our esthetics and our psychology are all tangled up together, especially where the nude is concerned, well, then, yes, I will grant that the female form is of more interest to me, esthetically and otherwise.
    How very perceptive and insightful of you both to notice that. . . .
    I am finally simply surprised that you are surprised by that. I do try to make a distinction between admiration and raw lust, however. I can in good conscience admire the nude. I try not to let it provoke me to overt lust. The line can be a fine one. . . . "Know thyself" becomes the operative principle (not a set of rules, Fred) for evaluating my own motives and tendencies.
    I only ask that the nude be a wholesome nude. I like my women healthy and beautiful, both in art and in life--but, if they are sweet and either responsive or provocative, then I will waive the requirement of ethereal beauty in the appropriate realm.
    As for the poor, neglected male nude, I would have had precious little to say of my reaction to the male nude, or to his degree of nakedness as perceived by me. Male nudes have no power over me. They do not inspire me to start interminable threads. Female nudes do have power over me, and at times they are downright glorious.
    Selah.
    --Lannie
     
  250. "I only ask that the nude be a wholesome nude. I like my women healthy and beautiful, both in art and in life--but, if they are sweet and either responsive or provocative, then I will waive the requirement of ethereal beauty in the appropriate realm."
    Yikes! I'm not sure if Julie, Rebecca, or Zoe are still reading, but if they are I only want to say that the hair on the back of my neck is standing straight up reading this. This statement makes me recoil, as a male and as a human being. I guess it's not my place to apologize to all the unhealthy women out there, those with breast cancer, those with physical deformities, those with mental disabilities, those who don't fit within the parameters of wholesomeness, health, beauty, sweetness, responsiveness, or provocativeness Lannie requires. I try to have a much less restrictive approach to others, whether in actual relationships or in pictures.
    Otherwise, Lannie, I'll tell you I haven't pegged you as a Platonist. I'm generally not interested in such titles. I've responded to the ideas you've expressed, individually, as ideas, not as schools of thought.
     
  251. "Hey, Don, while you are at it, tell Fred to post some male nudes of his own selection. You may also do so if you think that they are underrepresented on this site."
    The best evidence a thread is dead in this forum is a snotnosed response that does not indicate the respondent has read what they supposedly are responding to. A few years ago, I might enjoy playing with that, but not anymore.
     
  252. Fred, I meant "healthy and beautiful" as expansions of the idea of "wholesome": not filled with hatred, not spiritually or morally depraved, not harboring resentment nor carrying grudges for injuries real or imagined, not sallow-skinned denizens of the nether world of depravity, prostitution, and drug addiction, etc. Those are my preferences, and they would come forth from the inner core of the person. You have assumed (or else simply misrepresented me to mean) that I was referring only to external physical beauty and the outward appearance of wholesomeness, even after characterizing me numerous times as a Platonist--I am not, but I do put a lot more stock in the person's spirit, not in her outward appearance except as it shines forth from her eyes to reflect a psychological and spiritual beauty and healthiness in the fullest sense of a "healthy person," not merely a healthy body.
    I would of course wish for such a woman or women the best of physical health as well, and beautiful in every sense, but it is the inner person and the beauty that shines from within as spiritual and moral health which define true beauty and "healthiness" for me--the very essence, that is, of being truly wholesome. Those are the kinds of women that I would prefer to have in my life, whether as friends, as a love, or as the subject of a photograph.
    Frankly, your last two posts together make me sick to my stomach.
    Don, you were deleted in your last incarnation (Don E) on this site. Do you ever wonder why?
    --Lannie
     
  253. Fred "...pure form void of sexuality and participating only in Truth and Beauty"
    The only example I can think of is the one linked above, Botticelli's Birth of Venus, and for comparison Bougereaux's version. Both men were among the great 'draughtsmen' by any standard and I think what is on the canvas is exactly what they intended. Botticelli was a neoplantonist (at least until Savonarola came to town) and his philosophical project was recreating the paintings of the Classic Greek era which only exist in written descriptions. His Venus is not a woman, but an Idea. I cannot think of a photograph of a straightforward nude, whether male or female, that transcends sexuality, as does his Venus. It may not be possible.
    Lannie: "Don, you were deleted in your last incarnation (Don E) on this site. Do you ever wonder why?"
    No. You are implying the deletion of my previous account was done by photo.net. You are wrong.
    You were a nasty little boy, weren't you?
     
  254. jtk

    jtk

    The work of Eugene Meatyard, Patti Smith, and Lucien Freud seem relevant here to me (3 different media).
     
  255. Luca, you explain yourself well. I understand. Thanks for the clarification.
    Don, interesting thoughts on the Idea of The Birth of Venus. Thanks.
     
  256. http://www.photo.net/photo/10944942
    I just found this by accident. I have no message or philosophical argument to go with it, but I thought that I would share it anyway,
    --Lannie
     
  257. Don - " You are implying the deletion of my previous account was done by photo.net. You are wrong."
    Lannie, Don is right. I remember quite well when Don E. left this forum and why. It was of his own volition. He was not deleted by PN.
     
  258. Thanks, Luis. Actually, I was assuming it, not implying it--no sinister meaning was intended.
    The longer that I am on this forum the more convinced I am that John is right that the word "philosophy" is not too useful for summing up what is talked about here most of the time. It is about psychology as much as anything. Even so, there often is a lot of overlap, as John also correctly points out. Philosophy of mind is central to philosophy.
    The rest of the time, this forum is rather unusual in that it deals with matters related to technique without yet being a technical forum in the strict sense--take the issue of how to evoke emotional response, for example. None of that is meant by way of criticism--more of resignation to the reality of what kinds of topics are going to be deemed relevant by most participants. Knowledge of that can in turn help one to predict what kinds of turns in the road are likely--and perhaps alert one as to where most of the potential minefields are.
    --Lannie
     
  259. "the word 'philosophy' is not too useful for summing up what is talked about here most of the time."

    The word "philosophy" encompasses much. I also note that this is very much not a philosophy forum but is instead a philosophy of photography forum. So, although metaphysics, ontology, and religion come up, unlike in a philosophy class or classic philosophy discussion, they don't often come up in the abstract and as relates to the "big" questions. Rather, they come up as they touch upon photographic concerns. I don't see many of the discussions being strictly about "technique" but rather about the relationship of photographers to photographs, photographs to minds and feelings, photographs within various conceptual and emotional frameworks. Some of that will require some practical or nuts-and-bolts explanations. Zen and the art of motorcyle maintenance can't be discussed using only traditional philosophical methods. Wrenches and driving speeds will naturally come up. This has always seemed to me a forum with a wide latitude regarding subject matter, appreciated disparities of backgrounds in philosophy, and various experience levels in photography itself.
    This has been, for the most part, a stimulating discussion for me. That is in no small part due to you, Lannie. I have played many of my own ideas off your own very strong and determined questions and musings. It's helped focus some of my thoughts on the subject. It's been a good discussion because of, and not in spite of, strong disagreements. (I've read back and forth discussions between, for example, Richard Rorty and Donald Davidson, Hillary Putnam, and Daniel Dennett and those discussions can get quite heated with many barbs both veiled and unveiled thrown back and forth. It does seem like there is strong and constant disagreement at pretty much every level sometimes, because of such differing basic approaches and foundations. Nevertheless the discussions are enlightening and genuine.) I can't think of any topics or subtopics we've covered here, at least in the last few days, that don't seem completely appropriate to this forum, except, perhaps, wondering why Don E. left it way back. (The preceding is an example of one of those barbs I just talked about.)
    The reason the forum sometimes feels like and, indeed, sometimes is ad hominem (to a degree) is that some of us bring our own photos, methods, and very personal dynamic into the discussion. As a maker of photographs, I am not nearly as predisposed to keeping my own and others' personalities and motivations out of the discussion as I would be in a more strictly (academic) "philsophical" setting. As an applied philosophy forum, I guess I see the difference this way, conceptually and visually, for example between "philosophy of mind" or "philosophy of Kant" and "philosophy of photography". This is one reason why I have found myself using "I" much more in this forum than "we". When philosophers discuss "the mind" or "epistemology" (knowledge), they tend to discuss universal applications. When I discuss photography, I tend to discuss my relationship to photographs, to viewers, to subjects, my way of working and of seeing. And because I'm interested in your (not just you, but all participants) relationships and methods as well, and others are as well, some seemingly ad hominem stuff gets (I think, necessarily) thrown into the mix. In this forum, I separate ad hominem attacks from what I'll call "getting personal". To me, the former are unacceptable here and the latter is welcome. I find it can require a thick skin.
     
  260. Thanik you for the very timely and very civil response, Fred. I guess that I am always always going to tend toward the metaphysical tangents (or simply "implications" to me), but I think that you are right about the "philosophy of photography." Even so, the topic is vast, and we do pretty well overall. I have found your arguments the most philosophical, but everyone has something interesting to say. My own pain with avoiding metaphysics (or failing to do so) I would feel with Rorty et al. as well. We live in an era that is not kind when it comes to metaphysical speculation, even in philosophy proper.
    Apart from some ethical themes that are obvious, the esthetic would seem to be our entry point into philosophy proper--but it is the one field of philosophy in which I have not taken a single course labeled as such. For the longest I saw no way to link it to the rest of philosophy, although being on this thread has opened my eyes to some possibilities. Certainly Plato and Kant and other idealists have had their entry points into metaphysics from esthetics, and vice versa, whereas empiricists (especially positivists such as Ayer and Wittgenstein) would say that I should be silent about that which has no empirical referent. Invoking the divine or some such is at least an irritant to those of that bent--and they do predominate in this age.
    Enter psychology and the philosophy of mind: It is hard not to come up against these kinds of issues when discussing the nude, some issues being purely and explicitly psychological, all tending to have possible philosophical implications. As for ethics, at Florida in 1971 the first ethics course I took was called "Seminar in the Theory of Value," as I mentioned earlier. The title was intriguing but reflected the way that ethics can indeed be not just about right and wrong, but also about good and bad (the old deontological-teleological distinction comes to mind)--and therein was an entry into esthetics, but I was too young and naive about the terrain to see it. When I first read Kant on the nature of the sublime in the early seventies, I could not link it to the rest of philosophy. The nude would not have met Kant's criteria for the sublime, in any case, unless one really does feel awe in the presence of the human form. Well, ahem. . . it depends on the situation, the very last response Kant (when discussing "The Beautiful and the Sublime") would have wanted to hear and not at all what he was talking about with regard to awe and the sublime in the first place, which had (for him) some hint of fear in it. The possible tangents multiply exponentially. Beauty is tough enough to analyze without throwing fear into the equation in any sense.
    Oh, well, we have done pretty well, but I, too, need to apologize for not always managing to "keep it in the road," as my father would have said. I console myself that these are not only compelling issues but in many cases "hot button" issues. I doubt that I shall ever start another internet thread that has entry into discussions of sexuality because one makes oneself too vulnerable. The nude is inescapable in its sexual implications, not for the faint of heart in this age or this medium. I have often wondered how we would all relate on these issues if we were sitting around a seminar table. . . .
    Thanks for writing, Fred. If I seem to be pulling away in the days ahead, it is because I do not have a lot new to say. Pnina has mentioned that as a reason for not wanting to get into this one--it has all been said before, it seems. Even reading over the original thread last night, I was astonished at how much I was repeating myself from last year. I guess that I only have a finite number of things to say on these topics, and, as they say, when one starts to repeat oneself, then it is time to stop talking.
    Thanks again.
    --Lannie
     
  261. "Sing, Oh Goddess" was discussed earlier and Don brought up the importance of listening. While I agree with you, Lannie, that some of your questions and wonderings were similar to those you had in the last thread, there were a lot of new ideas and approaches that came in response that I found worth listening to. Though asking new questions is always encouraged in philosophy and in life, listening carefully to the answers -- as Don suggests by referencing The Muse (Goddess) -- can be more important for me than what I ask. I suggest to you, to Pnina, and certainly to myself that it may not be in what we say that the evolution of these two threads would be significant. It may be in what we hear and, more importantly, in what and how we see. If what I see and how I see it doesn't evolve, I have worries. Though I haven't shared your reactions regarding prostitutes and other "unwholesome" women, I have certainly had negative reactions to various people, photos, and works of art. Those are often the reactions I learn the most from and, sometimes, as inspiration has guided me, I can begin to empathize and begin to empathize with the visions of others. Relationships with and visions of the "unhealthy" -- using unhealthy as you've explained it -- can be cathartic or can confront me with a kind of reality that I may, at a later date, choose not to shut my eyes to, walk away from, or be sickened by. Or not. There are some objectionable things quite worth keeping at a distance. I have thought much about but haven't made many conclusions yet as to where the line between my tastes and my openness/willingness gets drawn. When I don't like and even when I am repulsed, I am never sure if it's an assertion of my own personal aesthetics (and, perhaps, ethics) or a limitation of my vision and that same ethics. But I do like being aware of that tension within me. As I said in the Motivation thread, "The occasional glimpse of something not previously perceived is part of the joy I get from the process. I want to see something new."
     
  262. Though I haven't shared your reactions regarding prostitutes and other "unwholesome" women, I have certainly had negative reactions to various people, photos, and works of art.​
    I was thinking of nude photography when I said that, Fred. I was not listing the types of persons I do not wish to see photographed but simply trying to convey sort of a profile of the subjects that typically do not interest me as nudes. I admit even there, however, that some people have done some fine work documenting the lives of prostitutes:
    http://www.masters-of-photography.com/B/bellocq/bellocq.html
    Somehow these women do not fit the profile of what I was trying to convey: the negation of my own personal preferences qua esthetic considerations. There may be other good reasons to document the lives of persons besides admiring their beauty, of course.
    I have been fascinated (though hardly enthralled) by how openly the prostitutes work the streets of little Salisbury, NC, where I live now. I would shoot them if it were safe for both them and me to do so--from a distance, of course. It all reminds me of driving the thirteen-hour night shift as a cabbie in Durham in the late sixties, when we were all driving customers to bootleg houses and places of ill repute. Now there--in my short life (seven months) as a cabbie--was documentary material, all the way from Duke coeds to people of the night to the blood stains of the last person who drove my starting cab (the one they assign you to to see if you are going to last).
    I was in that job the day that King was murdered in 1968. I was shot at, had people vomit in my cab, and I even rolled a man myself for the fare--and I gave him his change. Yes, it was illegal and stupid, but it was my first day (a Saturday afternoon) on the job and I was not going to be "robbed." (I had to pay for the fares at the end of the day whether I collected them or not: I collected them.) Yes, I wish that I could show what I saw as a very young man--the youngest of the drivers, and the only one not packing heat. (I carried instead a metal mass-produced hatchet wedged on the left hand side of the seat, true in spirit at least to my Cherokee heritage, and only had to produce it to one guy with a knife in my face as an inducement to exit my cab. It worked quite well, thank you.)
    I wish that I could have documented all that (and the guy whom I drove to the Duke U. hospital with a knife wound to the chest), not to mention the men who were wasting away at the phosphorus plant where i shoveled phosphorus ore until the day my shoes caught fire when I stepped onto the hot sidewalk upon leaving work one fine July day in 1966, not to mention the time my own oil truck caught fire in N. Charleton in 1967. Some days are better than others when you are lost and searching for yourself for three years while all of your friends are finishing college.
    It doesn't have to be all pretty and wholesome to be photographable for me, but nudes are special in a different way for me: I confess that I am looking for beauty and escape there. I have seen enough of the ugly, seamy side to last several lifetimes.
    --Lannie
     
  263. jtk

    jtk

    I don't think "philosophy" has been the point here so much as argument for the conventional objectification of very young women.
    Few seem to have much experience with or respect for strong adult women. The standard philosophers cited here seem to have had no concept that such women even existed...which presumably was the reason they were cited.
     
  264. I am not aware of any argument for any objectification, John. Could you cite one?
    While you are at it, how about definnig "very" in this context?
    If you would be so kind, please upload examples of the kinds of mature adult women that you have in mind. We'll be happy to look at them, too.
    --Lannie
     
  265. "The standard philosophers cited here seem to have had no concept that such women even existed...which presumably was the reason they were cited."
    Well, there's Diotima of Mantinea and Aspasia. They probably knew a few more.
     
  266. jtk

    jtk

    Lannie, my case is made by the bulk of the thread above, the linked photos, the anxious responses to direct gaze, and overt hostility to each of the women (including the reference to "clawing") who initially dared to comment.
    There's a 1950s' flavor to much of the thread, especially evident in the casual preference for "wholesome" and "beauty."
     
  267. casual preference for "wholesome" and "beauty."​
    Heavens, John. That does sound weird, I must say. Perhaps a "casual preference" for "depraved" and "ugliness" would have redeemed the thread?
    As for "clawed," how does one describe the verbal assault on Fred by a self-described writer of "literary sci-fi porn," not to mention her incomprehensible exit speech?
    I infer no "anxious" response to "direct gaze," John. As I said before, photos of the mature, strong women that you spoke of would be most welcome so that your surprising outburst might make a bit more sense.
    --Lannie
     
  268. John,
    obviously it is hard to read a thread of over 260 - mostly verbose - posts.
    The contribution of women was an auspice. But some misunderstandings occurred and the ladies were tough discussants.
    I was born in the 1960s, so I can't tell you about the 1950's flavour, but reading carefully, a serious attempt to debate the OP's issue is there.
    Aren't you making a bit of a sweeping generalisation?
     
  269. Sorry: 276 posts.
     
  270. John, Jim Phelps might want to tell us more about the models whose photos were linked to above. I know that one of his own models worked her way through Cornell as a model there (whether or not for the art department there I am not sure), so that puts her most likely in the 22+ age range--perhaps significantly older, for all I know. The other that I linked to of his is also a college graduate. Those were hardly two bimbos that Jim dragged in off the street. He used experienced professional fine arts models who also happen to have other career aspirations.
    I personally spoke with nothing but respect to the women who did comment, and I admired their courage and their willingness to express themselves, not to mention the wonderful cleverness of Julie in skewering me (with a good bit more balance than you are doing, I think).
    I am not in any case particularly upset by your assault, simply a bit perspexed.
    I might also point out that I posted two in-line shots of Manet prints at the outset, but they were removed by the moderators. I was not targeting the cheesy or the underaged, in any case.
    --Lannie
     
  271. Very young women, from the perspective of who, very old men ? Strong adult women is as much a ( photographic ) cliché as anything else out there. Some girls like to be women, some women like to be girls. Men will always be boys !
     
  272. John, here are links to the two works by Manet that I posted (as JPEGs only 511 pixels wide!) at the very outset of this thread:
    http://www.shafe.co.uk/crystal/images/lshafe/Manet_Dejeuner_sur_lherbe.jpg
    http://modernityseminar.files.wordpress.com/2008/01/mane02.jpg
    As far as I am concerned, the thread has been about art, not cheesecake, although some have disagreed. Even the revealing shot by Francois B on this site of "Frida" ( http://www.photo.net/photo/6448493 ) was included only as a counterpoint to the shot of Rebecca by Jim Phelps ( http://www.photo.net/photo/8937273 ) to make the point that I made right at the outset.
    The shot of Melissa that Jim removed because of post-processing problems was shot in "deep shade" (with one light from the side, as I recall) at an angle from the rear. No nudes were ever posted for shock value or for gratuitous nudity not related to the question being discussed.
    Was the question misguided? In my mind a question is always simply a question, capable of being reformulated and refined, of course--but always first and foremost a genuine question to which I do not know the answer. I would not presume to post something for heuristic value only, as I might for my students. I have too much respect for the contributors here to do that.
    --Lannie
     
  273. "...the thread has been about art, not cheesecake, although some have disagreed."
    And some consider cheesecake art.
     
  274. jtk

    jtk

    I've not commented on "cheesecake." Let's have more of that, rather than the parroting of theories about "direct gaze", the lazy definition of " beauty" (vs the significance of prostitutes, for example), and the pretense that a 22 year old is not "very young".
    Reminds me of the guys who thought nobody would ridicule them for claiming they collected Playboy Magazines for the literature :)
    The verbose distinction (and subsequent verbose reversal) on "wholesome" vs "prostitutes" was interesting. I don't recall Jesus making such distinctions or reversals. He was Jewish, of course. Born just once, evidently. See the theological reference, #4 below.
    "As for "clawed," how does one describe the verbal assault on Fred by a self-described writer of "literary sci-fi porn," not to mention her incomprehensible exit speech?" - LK
    1) Hmmm. "how does one describe" the anger of an exceptionally intelligent woman with"claw" unless "one" intends to disparage her specifically for her gender? Misogynist to the bone. Good old boys" are free to accuse me of political correctness :)
    2) Her"exit speech" made sense, was fully justified. It's interesting to see her attacked after she's left.
    3) Why mention "literary sci-fi porn" here, except to try to create ridicule?
    4) For any wimmen-loving theologians here, I suggest R Crumb's "The Book of Genesis."
    http://www.amazon.com/Book-Genesis-...=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1273104543&sr=8-1
     
  275. You missed your calling as a prosecutor, John. Here you are in the same role last year (in the original 2009 "The Power and the Glory" thread) for anyone who cares to look for the relevant posts. The accusation was different. The tone is the same:
    http://www.photo.net/philosophy-of-photography-forum/00TK0V
    There is more ammo there for you as well if you want to press the immediate case with "evidence" from the past.
    As for the woman in question, she can reincarnate herself with a new name and be back here to rebut me in five minutes if she so desires, although I have no desire to respond to anyone who takes a shotgun blast at everyone as she walks out the door.
    You still have not shown us an example of the strong, mature nude to compare to my own examples.
    --Lannie
     
  276. jtk

    jtk

    Let me put this another way: The women have left the room. Does that suggest anything?
    I appreciate that Fred, an astute, widely experienced and rapidly changing San Franciscan, brings a lot to gender awareness issues...but it's asking too much to expect him to carry all of the weight.
    I think the reason we see so little respect for women by photographers, who almost always dote on very young, early-reproductive-age women, springs directly from immaturity and/or commerce. Wink, wink.
    It's understandable, even enviable, when the man in question (the photographer, almost by definition...eg Weston) has sexual relationships with his subjects or is selling porn or cheesecake, but to so routinely elevate the so-called "figure study" to "wholesome" and "art" with the distinction between "naked" and "nude" is hilarious and shallow. To suggest that Weston's nudes, and peppers for that matter, are "abstract" and not erotic is, IMO, bizarre. Weston did use that term, but he had no idea how it would be used to take away from the substance of his photography.
    Since when did "naked" imply more sexuality than "nude," and since when was "art" non-sexual?
     
  277. jtk

    jtk

    btw Lannie. I specifically suggested that "one" might become aware of the work of Lucien Freud and Eugene Meatyard, and might consider the "nudes" of Patti Smith. Google.
     
  278. John, I don't shoot or post nudes, but I have a great deal of respect and regard for women who are over thirty. Here is a woman that I shot today in her office:
    http://www.photo.net/photo/10980581
    So, if you would, please direct your false claims of misogynism elsewhere, to someone to whom they might actually apply. They do not apply to me.
    Now, if you can kindly post a picture of the type of woman you are talking about, we will be happy to discuss it.
    In the meantime, please stop the false and malicious defamatory statements. You are liable for such excesses.
    --Lannie
     
  279. Re: philosophy and psychology. In this forum 'psychology' is spelled 'personal philosophy'. The trouble with presenting a personal philosophy as a subject for discussion is that any attempt to respond to it philosophically (which requires investigation, criticism, analysis) is that the philosophical discourse on it is often reacted to as if it were an existential threat.
     
  280. The ad hominem attack that parades in the guise of philosophy is threat--and it does injure. That is why there are legal remedies for malicious and defamatory remarks, in whatever guise they may present themselves.
    I have been severely damaged in my life more than once by false claims. I will not tolerate it. I also will not tolerate (without protest) its being passed off as "philosophical argument" when it is nothing of the sort. I am not threatening legal action, simply reminding John of what he is doing and that he is liable for it. Consider it free legal advice, not a threat. I do not sue, but, for the record, "libel" requires that a remark be both false and that it be malicious. That is simply a legal fact. Sometimes pointing out the law has some force with some persons.
    --Lannie
     
  281. I am not referring to your argument with John, but to your having presented your personal philosophy as a subject.
     
  282. Lannie, let's backup a bit. In your 4:28pm post today, you wrote: "Was the question misguided?"
    What question are you referring to?
     
  283. Since when did "naked" imply more sexuality than "nude," and since when was "art" non-sexual? --John Kelly​
    I do not make and have not made those claims, John, but one may possibly read something like what you have written into Robert Graves' poem "The Naked and the Nude." I am not in total agreement with Graves, but he is not totally off the wall, either.
    Here is the poem again so that persons do not have to go looking for it:
    For me, the naked and the nude
    (By lexicographers construed
    As synonyms that should express
    The same deficiency of dress
    Or shelter) stand as wide apart
    As love from lies, or truth from art.

    Lovers without reproach will gaze
    On bodies naked and ablaze;
    The Hippocratic eye will see
    In nakedness, anatomy;
    And naked shines the Goddess when
    She mounts her lion among men.

    The nude are bold, the nude are sly
    To hold each treasonable eye.
    While draping by a showman's trick
    Their dishabille in rhetoric,
    They grin a mock-religious grin
    Of scorn at those of naked skin.

    The naked, therefore, who compete
    Against the nude may know defeat;
    Yet when they both together tread
    The briary pastures of the dead,
    By Gorgons with long whips pursued,
    How naked go the sometime nude!
    Please note two passages that seem to link nakedness with sexuality:
    Lovers without reproach will gaze
    On bodies naked and ablaze.
    And naked shines the Goddess when

    She mounts her lion among men.
    Is the latter passage a sexual allusion? It might be. I am not sure. I think so.
    In any case, I have not make any explicit claim that nakedness implies sexuality. The two words "naked" and "nude" simply move around too much in ordinary discourse to build a conclusion on them. Poets, on the other hand, can get away with quite a bit in the name of poetic license.
    --Lannie
     
  284. What question are you referring to?​
    Don, I was referring to the original question that I posed at the outset of this thread back on April 20, I think it was.
    --Lannie
     
  285. You mean "why do some nudes appear more naked than others?"
    Some appear so to you -- 'nude', 'naked', 'more naked' are meaningful discriminations for you. To me, they are a novelty.
    btw, several goddesses are associated with lions, usually in their so-called 'war goddess' iconography. "Love goddesses" are often "war goddesses", Inanna, for one, often depicted with her foot on a lion's back, and a leash strung around its upper jaw.
     
  286. You mean "why do some nudes appear more naked than others?" --Don​
    Don, is that not what I said?
    Why does the photographic nude vary so greatly in its impact on us? More specifically, why do some nudes appear more naked than others? --LK​
    I think that it is obvious that the impact varies from person to person--and even from time to time for the same person. This was covered in the thread, if I am not mistaken.
    I am not sure what you mean by "novelty" in this context.
    You might be right about the allusion. Graves' writings are replete with allusions to mythology, especially The White Goddess which Luis referred me to last year. What a work!
    --Lannie
     
  287. What I take to be the philosophic issue in this thread is your statement "at times we are capable of transcending the merely human and glimpsing the divine" and that those "times" may occur for you upon viewing photographs, and you have specified both specific photographs and kinds of photographs. You also specify which kinds of photographs, for you, do not participate those "times".
    All well and good. That is personal philosophy. I have no issue with your tastes or experiences. I also have no issue with your choice of "divine" . 'Divine' has a broader meaning than reference to a god. I don't see this as a religious issue, no matter it is your personal philosophy.
    The philosophical issue I think is whether a material object, specifically a work of art, and more specifically a photograph can embody or convey that which transcends the material -- both the 'material' of the photograph, and the 'materiality' of our sensible existence (which precludes transferring the material object from the photograph to our minds that generate concepts).
     
  288. "I am not sure what you mean by "novelty" in this context."
    The distinctions you find so 'matter of course' I have not encountered before. To me, 'naked' means a body "in the state of nature" and 'nude' an attempt at art with the subject being a body "in the state of nature" moreso than not. That an artwork gives the appearance of being "more naked" than what it portrays rings no bell for me.
     
  289. I think that I get your point, Don, but Graves' poem again is a reminder that it is hardly a novel distinction for some. I wonder how much ink has been spilled over that poem in literature departments.
    As for the real philosophical questions, I think that there are many. The question I posed properly belongs to psychology, I suppose. Of course, psychology more than any other field directs us into philosophical territory pretty quickly. I am ultimately fascinated by the ultimate questions, the metaphysical speculations which are so currently out of fashion in both philosophy and literature departments.
    For me, that is, there might be some ultimate questions at stake here, but it is not clear how answering them relates to my question. For example, in the Christian religion there is the teaching attributed to Jesus of Nazareth, "He who looks at a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his own heart." (Matthew, chapter five, verse unknown to me at the moment)
    The possible implication of Jesus' teaching (assuming that he actually did say it) is that it is possible to look at a woman and not to "lust after her," which implies the possibility of non-sexual looking. How far one wants to go down the road of theological speculation is problematic, but, if there is a God who cares about such things, then there are ultimate metaphysical implications to my simple and seemingly uninteresting question. There is also the possibility of enjoying the nude in a way that is to some extent free of sexual considerations. In any case, I have been assuming that nudity (or nakedness, for that matter) does not necessarily have sexual implications.
    My best support for that claim would hardly be biblical: it would be anthropological. There are, that is, cultures where nudity is a way of life, cultures which appear to be no more promiscuous sexually than our own.
    In this post, however, I am content to show that the philosophical and even theological implications of my question are there. Everything in philosophy is related to everything else, if one keeps digging long enough to find the links.
    Persons such as myself, with our strict fundamentalist upbringings, might thus see these as very interesting--and even possibly disturbing--questions. For others they are hardly worth thinking about. So, if these two threads over about a year's time tell anything at all about me, it might simply be that my concerns reflect my own cultural qua religious baggage. Issues of "repression" come to mind.
    In my conscious mind, however, they reflect simple issues of ethics, in my case Christian ethics.
    --Lannie
     
  290. Landrum- "The ad hominem attack that parades in the guise of philosophy is threat--and it does injure."
    IMO... Only if you let it. It's always the person a wise woman here nicknamed "Cerberus", claiming the moral high ground, puffing himself up at the expense of many other PN members. Lannie, my advice is to totally disregard him.
    It's not threat, more like unwitting self-ridicule. Acknowledgment legitimizes.
     
  291. Lannie, I'm getting a muddled picture of your thinking and what you're after here. A few crucial statements seem contradictory to me.
    "It doesn't have to be all pretty and wholesome to be photographable for me, but nudes are special in a different way for me: I confess that I am looking for beauty and escape there." [my emphasis]
    The above is in response to my questioning you about your not wanting to look at unwholesome nudes and not wanting to relate to unwholesome women. Let's stick to the looking at unwholesome nudes for now and get to the relating to unwholesome women in a minute.
    Your very last post describes more accurately, I think, what your purpose was in initiating this thread. First off, it seems to me the purpose of the thread is more about looking at your Christian ethics than it is about the photographic nude. In other words, your last post seems a very genuine, honest, and heartfelt, also a very lucid statement about the ethics of non-sexuality and the sin of adultery as you see it. The way I see it, you have used photographic examples to make that point. So I am led to believe this was not a questioning of the role of the photographic nude per se or as you framed it originally. Rather, it was a use of the photographic nude to drive home a much more fundamental ethical point. You've danced back and forth between Christian ethics, your personal taste in photographs, and at a very late date, when challenged on your preference for wholesome women in your life, you attempted to reduce that preference to mere escapism, claiming that this is not about life, but about only your own preferences for nudes in photography as a means of escape (more like entertainment than art, to me). So, is the photographic nude a means of escape or is it something that holds for you the deeper implications that your chosen words "power" and "glory" along with your last post's significant foray into religion and ethics would seem to indicate?
    Related to this is what I see as another contradiction that I hope you can clear up:
    After you talked about wholesome women and prostitutes, I said to you, "Though I haven't shared your reactions regarding prostitutes and other 'unwholesome' women, I have certainly had negative reactions to various people, photos, and works of art." You responded by saying:
    "I was thinking of nude photography when I said that, Fred. I was not listing the types of persons I do not wish to see photographed but simply trying to convey sort of a profile of the subjects that typically do not interest me as nudes."
    But here's what you had already said, which caused me to question you in the first place:
    "it is the inner person and the beauty that shines from within as spiritual and moral health which define true beauty and "healthiness" for me--the very essence, that is, of being truly wholesome. Those are the kinds of women that I would prefer to have in my life, whether as friends, as a love, or as the subject of a photograph."
    Clearly, at least to me, you were in fact referring to women as friends or lovers and not just to nude photographs.
    It seems to me there's been a confusion throughout this thread, on your part, between two significant pairs of things: 1) the subject of the photograph and the photograph; 2) your personal ethics and the art or craft of photography.
    In support of my conclusion, I offer, first, the judgments you've made about the woman, Rebecca, the subject of some of Jim Phelps's nudes. You have judged the woman innocent when what you've encountered is an innocent photographic portrayal of a woman. Second, you've wavered considerably between whether this thread is about your significant personal ethics regarding your relationship to (wholesome) women or if it is about a matter of your taste and desire to escape the more serious and sometimes not-so-wholesome side of life.
    To suggest that the nude photograph IS divine and glorious (which I gave you a lot of credit for being willing to argue throughout these two threads even though I strenuously disagreed and told you as much) is a very different matter from suggesting that it is merely your taste to want to escape the harsh world around you on occasion by looking at pictures of beautiful nude women.
    Finally, something you said really stood out to me, when you were talking about prostitutes:
    "I would shoot them if it were safe for both them and me to do so--from a distance, of course."
    That's how most snaps of homeless people and prostitutes come off, as distanced. For me, that is a matter of ethics. Most photographs that are made that way, from a distance, come off as treating their subjects like novelties. They come off as looking at without seeing. I find many distanced photographs of people we don't know extremely objectifying and ethically objectionable . . . and lousy photographically. Bridging a distance, I've found for myself, can be done without harmfully intruding. It comes not without risks, which I'm willing to take.
     
  292. Lannie, I think the issue of "more naked than" can be understood within the bounds you've defined, which is to say materially, since as you measure it, it is about sq. cms of skin generally and skin in specific areas of the body. Giving the appearance of being "more naked than" is found in the art of cheesecake and burlesque and is as old as the hills, and, as well, in Hefner's early "wholesome girl next door" period of Playboy. I could point to some things regarding composition, lighting and pose used to the purpose in Deep Thought, and based on what I've read of them over the years both Fred or Luis could do a far better job of it than I. I try to keep in mind something Gary Winogrand said: "The photograph is not the photographed".
    What I think makes for "more naked than" is the mind must complete the nakedness by filling in what is seen with what is known. Rather than say they "appear more naked", I'd say they "feel more naked", because the imagination is informed by more than only the visual sense. The imagination fills in, or completes, the picture, bringing something more to it.
    The issue of 'lusting' and "non-sexual looking"...Jesus might simply be commenting on the human condition without the implication you infer. I don't know if other cultures in which social or public nakedness is common can be said to embody non-sexual looking. That there may be non-sexual looking at social nakedness may simply indicate a culturally different sexual looking. Spend, say, 72 hours in a situation of social nakedness and you will see what I mean. Cultures can have distinctly different ideas of what constitutes a secondary erogenous zone, for example.
    I wonder about the value or virtue of non-sexual looking. For you it is settled in your ethics and morality, but it has those by devaluing sexual looking and that doesn't seem quite the right way to go about it.
     
  293. Fred, I'm also getting a muddled picture of Lannie's thinking, but it's an honest portrayal of a knotty, complicated jumble of conflicting personal energies. Everyone doesn't have their ducks in a row, in laser-like coherence. I don't.
    ___________________________
    When someone (Zoe?) asked why women tend to photograph nude women, my first thought was "marketability". Nudes of men not aimed at the gay market have no market to speak of. Women's magazines are full of pictures of women, just as men's magazines are. The art nudes I see of women made by either gender are mostly interchangeable. There seem to be more variations within photographers of either gender than between them.
    ___________________________
    The nude and naked business is complicated by the body's capability for natural, autonomic arousal via visual fetishes. That doesn't happen (for most viewers) with other genres in photography. Maybe my module is defective, but I don't drool when looking at pictures in foodie magazines or menus.
    ___________________________
    I have spent many days with friends in nudist camps. They tell me they begin to disassociate nudity from sex, that they become somewhat desensitized to it . I think there's truth in that, though I confess to not getting very far with the process.
    This is clearly visible in Jock Sturges' work, though he did marry one of his subjects (one that he had photographed as a child).
    ____________________________
    Don - " The imagination fills in, or completes, the picture, bringing something more to it."
    Yes, and blind-spotting things out of it. It's part and parcel of human post-retinal visual processing.
    _____________________________
     
  294. Luis, you know me well enough to know I don't seek for myself and don't ask from others a laser-like coherence. I've said on more than one occasion that I enjoy posts that are genuinely thinking out loud and not full of solutions from the beginning. I like murkiness. But I also call it what it is when I encounter it. What I'm bringing up to Lannie is somewhat different than that kind of murkiness and I'm surprised you don't see the difference. I see Lannie quite consciously weaving and dodging and masking some agendas here. He has tried to make it sound like he was talking about something from the very beginning that it seems so clear to me he was not. A man is allowed and encouraged to change his mind or reframe his thoughts. But I question the rewriting of one's own history of thought within a thread. "I've changed my perspective" or "I'm unsure" is very different from "That's what I meant from the beginning." This is about avoidance as much as coherence. I'm willing to risk being wrong in order to say this. It may completely be my own mistaken judgment. If that's the case, then it's my own