Sj7g09's Blog

Archive for October 2009

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So, it all seems like my work is on a pretty consistent theme at the moment, but I have a lot to say about it and I guess it’s better than being vague and flitting between different themes – at least this way I get to explore ideas properly. The above image uses biro sketching, watercolour and acrylic, and I wanted to start trying to look at the boundaries between photography and painting. Is a painting copied from an illegal photograph illegal? Does the style it is painted in make any difference, is it more illegal if it’s photorealism, or less illegal if it’s expressive? I also wanted to start looking at the different objectifications of the genders in pornography. Obviously women are objectified in pornography, but arguably men are too – they are only the body part that they are using to enable the woman to act. So in the above painting I wanted the man to be just disembodied hands, appearing from out of nothing, and I like that it’s given it such an expressive, unrealistic feel to the image.

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I’ve been thinking more, and want to compare pornography to films. I think that pornography is categorised as low culture partly because it aims to create a physiological response in people, and this is seen as more base and instinctual than the sort of response that high art supposedly attempts to achieve. And this is the same with films – films that attempt to provoke a physiological reaction, like horror films or tearjerkers, tend to have a low status within the film media because what they are doing seems to be of less worth than films that are thought-provoking or such like. The ‘splatter film’ (subgenre of horror focusing on portraying graphic gore or violence) has even been likened to pornography by critics who have given it the derogatory label of “torture porn”, perhaps because this genre often shows graphic violence towards attractive women. Many critics seem to think that the violence being towards women makes it sexual… I cant help but think that these people are still of the thinking that is commonplace in mainstream media – that there needs to be a good reason for violence to happen to a woman, otherwise it can just happen to a man instead and that’s okay. This is part of why I see splatter films as being an artistic medium just because of the controversy they cause, as they shock and create an emotional response of horror, disbelief, disgust, and leave people wondering just how far the film is willing to go, and I think it subverts modern culture very well, just as subversive art movements in the past have made comments on their societies.

Films like “Hostel” have received criticism for the violence depicted towards female characters, with one of the complaints being that they are often in lingerie or naked. I think that this is the perfect parody of modern media – women tend to be in various states of undress while in any traditional media, so why not in a film like this? It’s simply reflecting wider culture.
Another splatter film that received huge criticism – enough criticism that it is banned in the UK – is “Grotesque”, a Japanese horror that supposedly doesnt have enough character development or storyline to warrant it being a film rather than pornography. The version I watched didnt have subs, so, granted, for me it didnt have all that much character or storyline, but then does any film within this genre really? They’re generally propped up by frail storylines and characters, so surely it’s a good thing to not have to endure a weak plot and stereotypical characters – I’d say it’s more original to bypass these things completely and get to the heart of things. The genre is categorised by extreme violence and gore, so really Grotesque should be praised for portraying these qualities in a form so pure and unadulterated that it is illegal in the UK. Personally, I do see it as an art form to manage to convince people that a work of fiction, where the violence is fictional, where everything is staged and constructed by special effects, is a danger to society. It’s pretty close to the level of art of getting people to actually believe that the film is real (as with “The Guineapig”, where the creators had to go to court to prove that their film was indeed fake and wasnt a real snuff film). Art makes people feel uncomfortable some times, but that’s no reason to ban expression, and I think that this can be applied to pornography also. Pretty much all pornography manages to transcend the boundaries of fantasy and reality in peoples’ minds – people do believe that pornography is real in a way that they usually dont believe that films are real.

“The chief pleasure on offer seems to be in the spectacle of sadism (including sexual sadism) for its own sake. It is the board’s carefully considered view that to issue a certificate to Grotesque, even if statutorily confined to adults, would involve risk of harm within the terms of the Video Recordings Act, would be inconsistent with the board’s guidelines, and would be unacceptable to the public. The BBFC has a strict policy on sexual violence. With portrayals of sexual violence which might eroticise or endorse sexual assault the board may require cuts at any classification level.”

What is so harmful or damaging about adults being exposed to something like this? What makes something sexual violence, and why is sexual violence worse than regular violence? Like, in Grotesque I personally find the violence-violence much more disgusting than the sexual-violence. Does the gratuitous violence after the sexual assault then taint the sex aspect of it and make it more offensive with hindsight?

Again, there’s the idea that being exposed to media like this will turn you into some sort of psychopath who just wants to rape and kill, but really, this must just be an excuse to censor, right? I think that really people must just be worried because films like this start to unravel the human psyche’s defense mechanisms of denial and repression, that they feel uncomfortable with what they see because films like this do mix sex, violence and death, and so the outcome of your emotions and physiological responses is a confusing one. Films like this start to reveal unacceptable parts of the psyche, parts that enjoy sadism, and people dont want to have to deal with that – it’s easier to transfer all your feelings of disgust and shame back onto the film than confront them, work through them, and accept that these traits are universally human. Maybe if there wasnt such a taboo about sex, violence, death, etc. then people would be less confused, ashamed, self-hating, and could assess their feelings and sexuality rather than repressing it because of thinking that it’s just them that feels like that. I’d guess that rather than making people want to act out violent fantasies, whether sexual or not, these sort of films are more cathartic than anything – people get a visualisation of their fantasies, or people are deterred from their curiosity over violence or death because of being able to see representations of it in a film. The best example I can think of to give is of self-harm websites that have pictures of self-inflicted injuries, because of operating on the idea that if people see the pictures, they wont need to hurt themselves because of remembering what it’s like, or fulfilling their curiosity or need to see the human body in this vulnerable, fragile, mutilated way, maybe because humans are very visual creatures.

So it just seems like mainstream media can get away with using themes of sex, violence and death to titilate audiences, but when alternative media takes it further there’s controversy and censorship and illegality, even though they’re still as not-real as mainstream media, they’re just being more artful in their depictions and convincing people that there really is something to worry about while still staying within the realms of fantasy.

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I wanted to look at the idea of creating photos that mimicked fashion photography sort of imagery, while having more ‘softcore’ sort of sex/death themes. It’s made me think that ‘art’ and ‘pornography’ are almost in competition with each other in images, that they cant really co-exist – it’s either that a picture has artistic merit, or a photograph is pornographic. But then, what if my model for these pictures was naked? Surely then it would swing the balance to being ‘pornography’, but these images were taken with artistic intentions to give a commentary on social issues.

The second image is pretty heavily edited, as I’m sure the discerning eye can see. It was one of my first attempts at photoshopping, with my aim being to make my model look as fake and mannequin-like as possible. I think part of why fashion photography or fashion/advertising models cant be seen as pornography is because the models can’t be seen sexually because they dont have any sort of spark – they are altered to the point that they become empty vessels, they’re not even women any more. They cant have any character because they need to be a blank lifeless canvas for selling products. Maybe media advertising should be hounded for using dead models. I actually quite like the idea of using heavily edited images of women to imply death, because it reflects media hypocrisy well.

Anyway, any possible ‘imperfections’ have been removed from my model, and the image has been heavily dodged to remove any shadows, and to lighten the skin and eyes, and also heavily burned to darken hair, eyebrows, clothes, and also eyelashes and lips, basically adding extra makeup digitally. I feel that I’ve achieved my aim of creating a lifeless-looking model – I find the result quite disconcerting, particularly looking at my model’s glassy staring eyes.

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(image from America’s Next Top Model)

I’ve found an interesting example of the boundaries between high and low culture – fashion photography. I don’t know how prevalent this is, but I have seen fashion photography that uses models pretending to be dead, some times in lingerie, so how is this really that different to pornography where the actress pretends to be dead? In photography, there’s the assumption that none of it is real, and that it won’t be arousing because it isnt specifically intended to be sexual, but surely fashion photography intends to provoke a response in the viewer, and obviously a large proportion of modern advertising relies on sex. Instead of treating pornography like photography, there’s the assumption that it’s so bad, evil, morally corrupting, that anything it portrays may indeed be real, when this just isnt true. It’s quite funny really that people can believe that pornography is real… I dont know how much pornography these people have seen, but if they have actually seen any, they may have noticed that porn stars generally arent the best at acting, so realistically conveying a rape or death scene may be slightly beyond them. Then there’s the argument that this sort of “extreme pornography” may cause people to see rape or murder as normalised and therefore go out and rape and murder for sexual gratification. I dont see why that would happen at all. I’d say that pornography is a lot less damaging and warps peoples’ perceptions of women much less than mainstream media, and that by saying that mainstream media is ok whereas pornography isnt, it sets the boundaries, it says that if mainstream portrayals of women as objects is ok to show then it must be generally ok. If you’re going to censor anything, it gives the message that if something is not censored, then that means it is acceptable.

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(image from America’s Next Top Model)

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I find it interesting that the crime scene photoshoot from America’s Next Top Model generated less controversy than, say, Dolce & Gabbana’s supposed “gang rape” ad, which was pulled from circulation because of how it glorified (sexual) violence towards women. So, if something has sexual overtones it’s less acceptable than something that is graphically violent but isnt overtly sexual, but that could implicitly be interpreted as sexual. Surely the Dolce & Gabanna ad should be more acceptable because it firmly places itself in the realms of fantasy – it has a backdrop of clouds, it’s obvious it isnt real, while the crime scene photoshoot seems to be aiming for gritty realism, and is generally just a lot more explicit and trying to look real. I think a lot of people hated the Dolce & Gabbana ad because it was justified as a “rape fantasy”, and those words dont tend to go down well. Another reason why rape pornography is illegal (UK, only if there seems to be threat to a person’s life, Scotland, all rape porn is illegal) – because people find it so offensive that people fantasise about rape. I think this applies whether it’s a man or woman fantasising about rape, for different reasons. I mean, obviously people have a huge problem with men fantasising about rape because there’s the idea that someone who fantasises about something actually wants to enact it and men have the means to do this, regardless of character, morals, not actually wanting to rape someone…. Then with women, it’s seen as anti-feminist or something – there’s absolute disbelief that women could fantasise about something like this, and it’s seen as offensive because of women who have actually been raped – but that’s the point, it’s a fantasy. People who are into this stuff dont want to actually rape or be raped, they want to play pretend, and what’s wrong with that?

I find it infinitely more disturbing that something likeĀ http://www.angryharry.com/notefeminismforstudents.htm can exist, throughout their articles variously claiming that most rape allegations are false, women only tell anyone about domestic violence for revenge, it’s understandable for men to want to beat or kill their partners because they have no other way of getting rid of them – the list of misogyny masquerading as “men’s rights” is endless. And I have to assume that this website is real, unless it is a very very very elaborate hoax and sadly I dont think it is. I dont believe in any sort of censorship, so it’s not that I would want to stop this person’s freedom of expression, it just worries me that people may not see an alternative viewpoint, seeing as this website seems to claim that feminism is misandry, whereas having men’s rights means that women must be subservient to men, and yet they dont see this as misogyny. It has to be seen to be believed really.

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These are some quick sketches I did to try out some new techniques.. I’d reached a bit of a creative block, and so I tried sketching in the back of my sketchbook. They didnt really start off as being part of any particular project, but I find that I tend to express all the themes and ideas I have through drawing or painting women, so I tried to incorporate that into my work. Painting the page with a colour wash helped me to be less afraid of starting the drawing, and also probably made me a little more haphazard, with these sketches taking about 20 minutes I decided to sketch in biro, because I find that fear of mistakes inhibits me, so if I draw in pen and make mistakes I have to work around them instead of meticulously planning or giving up when the smallest thing goes wrong. On the second painting, I decided to use more of the painting aspect, shading in with the paint also.

Using a colour wash opened up a new idea to me – the effect that colour has on putting the images into a context. I began by using a black wash, drawing in black pen and using white chalk for highlights, and this gives the image a very harsh, dramatic effect. I think that that image looks a lot more sinister than the others, and I think this is largely due to the colours it was painted in. The image painted in blue is very similar to the image painted in black in that both of the women are tied up, but the blue image has a feeling of stillness and calm in a very different way to the black painting. This is something that I may want to look into further – if a grotesque or violent scene is painted in bright clownish colours does it change how the image is viewed? Maybe bright colours would make it look even more disturbing, but almost in the form of parody.

These images illustrate one of the points I am trying to make with my Inside/Outside project, that acceptability is very based on context. Like, the photographs that these paintings were copied from may cross over into illegality because of the Extreme Pornography Act, or if they were actually real, they would probably count as a crime. But as paintings, there is the assumption that none of this is real, that the act is not real, the people may not be real, and so anything that is happening in the images is from the imagination, it is only fantasy.

Posted on: October 29, 2009

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I took this photograph while experimenting with camera settings, and like the mirroring of the computer screen with the window to the outside – having the image in sepia probably means that they mirror each other better without colours to get in the way. To me, this image is representative of the assumption that inner fantasy will escape out into reality, and that fantasising is the first step towards acting.

Posted on: October 29, 2009

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I havent done much photography in a while, and have been planning to do lots for my Inside/Outside project, so started experimenting with stuff today. These are influenced by BDSM/fetish photographs that I’ve been looking at for my project.. I wanted to start with subtle images, then work from there. The main effect I wanted to achieve with this was to get a lot of detail into the photo, although now I wish that I could present all my photography digitally rather than in a traditional sketchbook because I know that the detail and definition won’t ever show up when printed.

My aim for this project is to utilise photography in creating images that are on the border of illegality under the Extreme Pornography Act, while all the images are obviously fake. I guess the law has the problem of semantics, it says that “a reasonable person looking at the image would think that any such person or animal was real” – the person involved is real, but what they are doing is not real. People find it hard to distinguish between fantasy and reality unless it’s obvious, so “extreme pornography” is banned because it uses real actors so people see it as being real even though it’s all still staged, consensual and therefore a fantasy.

Like any form of art, I think that pornography is a form of knowledge, and so mainstream pornography expresses mainstream ideology, whereas non-mainstream pornography expresses alternative knowledge. I’d suggest that extreme pornography is banned because it expresses views that are so far removed from mainstream norms and values that there’s an irrational fear that being exposed to this material will corrupt the viewer so much that they would forever lose their mainstream morals and commit atrocities. But really, is the influence of pornography going to counteract a lifetime of socialisation into mainstream norms and values?

This law was enforced because of one solitary isolated case where a man supposedly killed a woman, and he happened to watch “extreme pornography”, so the link was irreversibly made – porn causes murder.

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For the artist book I’m creating for the Inside/Outside project, I’m systematically mutilating Christian literature. The first book to undergo this treatment is “The Road to Hell” by David Pawson. I started off with the idea of hollowing out a book, making it into a book-safe sort of thing, and putting pornographic images into it, but there were so many bits of text from the book that I wanted to leave in that I’ve cut around them. Maybe this is just me finding it hard to totally destroy a book. I felt quite a lot of discomfort at doing this to a book, even though I completely and wholeheartedly disagree with what is expressed within it. Even though I dont like the views expressed, I find it hard to symbolically annihilate them like this. My work links to the theme of censorship, particularly in regard to the Extreme Pornography Act, so I felt that it was important to get some experience of censoring what someone else thinks. But at the same time, this is a published work, there will be lots of copies of it, so I’m not really destroying the book, I’m just destroying one copy of the book. And even in just destroying one copy, I found it difficult, so it’s beyond me how people can decide that it’s for the best to truly censor something, as with the Extreme Pornography Act. I chose to destroy religious literature because my project is looking at themes such as the id and superego, so I wanted there to be pornographic images at the core representing id-like desires, surrounded by the influence of the superego, hiding and repressing the id. I also wanted to draw attention to the similarities between religion and pornography – religion has caused countless deaths, wars and damage to society, but is above censorship, whereas pornography has been scapegoated for a handful of deaths but conforms to all the criteria that allow it to be seen as disgusting, evil, something that should be erradicated. With “extreme” pornography, there’s the idea that it must be censored from everyone because very few people may be affected adversely by it, whereas religion has adverse effects on many, many people, but is not judged by extremists because that would be unfair on the supposed moderate majority. Why is religion above censorship? Is it because it supposedly being ordained by a supernatural being puts it above criticism, or is it that the religious are capable of being offended, and because of their religion, this counts as discrimination? I’m deeply offended by the censorship of pornography, but because I dont have a god to back up my views, it doesnt count. Because I cant hide behind the label of religion, my views dont matter – I cant claim that I’m being discriminated against by censorship because I dont fit into a neat little group like religion. By enforcing a law like this, the government is basically saying that discrimination doesnt count if your cause is the belief in freedom of expression. The people who oppose this law arent all of one religion, or one sexuality, so they’re not being discriminated against. Kink today is treated just as homosexuality was in the past – being found to possess violent pornography now means that you may be judged unfit to work in teaching, or health and social care – how is that not discrimination? Having your name put on a list and refused a job because of your sexual preferences is surely a textbook definition of discrimination.

Pornography has always been very linked with religion, as pornography is a very subversive medium that often expresses its contempt for religion in ways that have been damned as “blasphemous”, so religion has sought to destroy pornography because of it challenging religious authority. If I’m honest, I partly saw this as a way of venting my personal frustrations, a revenge of sorts – I see that the sort of moral dictatorship present today is largely the influence of religion, and so I wanted to destroy part of religion, just as religion destroys freedom of expression.



  • fred whitacre jr: they don,t have any sex invaled why are we so againce children being nude in pictures because of alll the sick fucking rapetist out there children
  • fred whitacre jr: she only 12 but it is not porn at all it is nude only only a sick person would want to fuck her not me but i will tell you the true she is a very hot
  • fred whitacre jr: i see noghting wrong just a nude girl no porn that would be wrong with a child but not worng with a grown up only nude pics of children is ok if no se