Sj7g09's Blog

Archive for the ‘Assessment Presentation’ Category

Posted on: January 26, 2010

Posted on: January 24, 2010

The day before the first date of my assessment, I came up with an idea that I wanted to rushedly explore before the hand-in. I’d been skirting around the idea, but it hadn’t quite crystallised until that point. The entire process in this project had very much reminded me of the restriction of living in my family home and having to hide things from my parents for fear of their opinions, or punishment, except that the entities subjecting me to this this time were the university and the police. Since I was about 10, I’d been writing diaries, but there were always things that I feared writing, even though they were supposedly private, just in case they were ever read. Over time, these variously concerned religion, sexuality, depression, self-harm, self-identity, other miscellaneous secrets. If I was brave enough to write these things down, often I’d gone through the diaries afterwards crossing or ripping out the offending articles to protect myself from the fear of discovery. One issue in this is very similar to the things I’ve been dealing with in this project, which was printing out photos to stick in my diaries – most of these were destroyed because of fear of their discovery by my parents. These images held such an importance to me at the time that I was willing to go through what I perceived to be substantial risk to own them, by printing them late at night with all the doors through my house closed so as to not wake my parents, just to destroy them at a later date because I couldn’t stand the constant guilt, shame and fear of possessing them. Because I felt this strongly about them, they had that much effect on me, I should have kept them – I remember them even now, and they shaped my identity and development in some ways, but I now have no access to them because I had to annihilate them to annihilate the unacceptable parts of myself at the time. I was made to feel that those parts of myself needed to be symbolically cut away, which I all too willingly oblidged to at the time. Very literally, this is symbolic annihilation – by destroying the images, you destroy your link to them, and therefore that part of yourself. It’s almost like self-harming in that through destroying the image, it is a self-hating action, it’s hating, denying and destroying part of yourself. I’ve been very tempted to include self-harm in this project to convey that, as I’m not sure anything gets across the nature of this as well as that would, but I don’t feel it would go down particularly well.

Anyway, the images here are a representation of this, and I hope they convey in part the self-harming nature of these actions – the frenzied, violent scribbles. I began by writing anything that I was thinking – going through the project, how I felt about it, explaining it’s similarity to my childhood diaries, then describing the sorts of things that I wrote in my diaries that I destroyed in the past. I wrote everything openly, honestly, and divulged pieces of information there that I wouldnt tell many people at all – childhood memories, formation of my identity, feelings, experiences, fantasies, anything that came into my mind. I wanted the book to be intensely voyeuristic – that people could learn things about me that they never could from talking to me, and they would know things from that book that made me seem like a totally different person to who I seem like in everyday, shallow meetings with me. Because of the honest and explicit nature of this piece of work, it had to be destroyed. I conformed to all the things I hated, remade the mistakes of the past by annihilating something that was important to me, something that would have been important to look back on in the future as a representation of who I was at this time. At first, I wanted to take photographs of the book to know what it said – I’m the sort of person who wants copies of everything, I like to build up documentation of things that I might want to remember in the future because that’s the only way of having any idea what happened at the time and how you felt about it as your past self. I decided that this invalidated the point of the book – there could be no copy of it, because it became “for my own good” to destroy it, in case there were consequences to it existing. Just as I’ve compromised my self and morals so many times before – destroying diaries, editing my blog, deleting photographs – I had to with this too, even though it went against everything I wanted, embodying a lack of freedom, autonomy, a restriction, psychologically mirroring the material that conveys these qualities in a physical sense that are so obscene. It very much links to my idea of using physical harm on the female body to convey how authoritarian rules become what they despise – in trying to prevent harm to women, it almost condones the destruction of the female body for having the potential to be obscene, much like the call to mutilate books to save people from the potential harm they could cause.

Posted on: January 24, 2010

Eventually, not being able to express myself through art took it’s toll, and I started drawing again. I think these reflect the sort of state I was in at the time – I’d lost my confidence in actually trying to create work that was explicit, that could convey anything to the person viewing it. In some ways, this helped me to develop my practice, because it made me change how I was doing things, and despite losing confidence in some of my abilities, it gave me the opportunity and freedom to do something that I had never been able to do before. Instead of drawing from life or photographs, I tried to focus on drawing things to represent events or feelings that were important to me at the time. I think in a lot of ways, these drawings sum up part of this project for me, and it has followed a path that was both predictable and very unexpected. At the beginning of the project, I wanted to explore the subconscious, and how this can manifest through art, and I think that these drawings go some way towards achieving this. I also had the idea that I would try to collaborate with the ethics committee through starting my work, proposing it via the ethics forms, then seeing where it needed to be changed, and going along with their advice. This never came to fruition because of the short space of time between the beginning of the project, and the christmas holiday. Instead, this seemed to come about naturally through me starting by creating what I see as vibrant, free and expressive pieces of art – in the beginning, I was trying new things, experimenting, really grappling with concepts and ideas, and these took new shapes and forms in response to the feedback I was getting from the institution. The more expressive and outside of the boundaries my work got, the more the institution retorted with increasingly drastic measures. It started with censorship of my blog, progressing to meetings with staff, being told that it was for my own good – the story everchanging as to why it had happened, culminating in me being told that I may be reported to the police if any of my work is shown to staff and they deem it to be illegal. In reponse to these threats, my work ceased, changed, and dulled over time – at first, I started to deal with personal aspects of the events, making videos showing how upsetting the process was for me, but eventually, it all dulled down into the sort of images shown above. Instead of the paintings I was creating at the beginning that I now fear to show anyone, I’d bowed to the institution, giving in to their idea that I could do whatever I wanted, so long as no one else saw. That has always been the issue here – they didn’t like my work being accessible to the other students on the blog, then they didn’t want me to share my work with anyone in case it was illegal in any way – the boundaries got more and more restrictive, until I couldn’t share my work with anyone in its literal form, meaning it had to take on the form of feeble scribbles like these. No one knows what they mean – they’re completely safe, completely unoffensive. They could mean anything, they could depict the most disgusting, obscene, offensive messages imaginable, but because they don’t transmit to the viewer, it doesn’t matter, because they hold no power or influence as they are untranslatable, neutralised.

Posted on: January 8, 2010

If individuals wish to be 100% safe, then they need to err on the side of caution. There are many books people it would be safer to mutilate – or destroy altogether.

One of the things discussed in my tutorial was in regard to the self-shot portrait, and whether it can be considered sexual, and why. The view expressed by the member of staff was that it was sexual, because she was naked, she was wearing the long socks, the way her legs were crossed one over the other in the pose, and that she looked ‘coy’. I would probably say that the image is sexual, but, at the same time, it isn’t necessarily. One of the most interesting points here for me was that ‘she looks coy’ – I think that it’s read as being ‘coy’ in this context because of the other elements, but it could be genuine shyness. Even shyness is interpreted sexually in regard to women, I think probably because women are seen as somewhat passive, but also sexually manipulative in using acting to entice men.

The nudity was also an issue that I found interesting, as there is nothing inherently sexual about a naked body, but at the same time, I feel that women who use their naked body for expression are generally labelled as sexual. Amanda Palmer is an obvious example for me. Marina Abramovic was cited as an example of a woman who uses her naked body in art and isn’t sexualised, but when looking at her images I had a different opinion.

image by Marina Abramovic

This was the first image I found by Marina Abramovic, which I absolutely love, but I was confused as to why it had been suggested that her work portrayed the artist in an asexual context. I’m sure that some of her work can be interpreted in this way, but to me, this piece is extremely sexual, and I suppose that the point I was trying to make wasn’t that women’s bodies are always sexual, but I think that they are always objectified because of their gender. I haven’t researched the context of this image or what its intentions were, so I can only give my initial reaction and perspective on it, but I read it as an image talking about how (female) artists are judged by their looks as to whether their art is valued. For art to be beautiful, the artist must be beautiful. I feel a close identification with the image, as to me it looks as though it is social commentary on the objectification of women – it strikes me as quite a violent image through the frenzied writing on the wall, the scattered items on the floor and the figure sprawled amongst the debris.

In discussing her work, I was told that she is a performance artist who often cuts or harms her body in her work, which I suggested could be seen as sexual, particularly in the media climate at the moment, where violent pornography is a moral panic. I think that the combination of the naked female form with any sort of violence or mutilation can easily be considered sexual, but that view contrasts with that of the person giving the tutorial, who said that it could maybe be considered sexual if someone else was cutting her, or if she was cutting herself in a frenzy rather than in the methodological and meditative way that she does. Personally, I don’t see much difference. I think that any sort of cutting can fall under sadomasochism, and therefore some people will always interpret it as being sexual or somehow depraving. For example, I read about some of her specific performances, which have included her running into a wall until she collapses, stabbing her own hand repeatedly, and one where “she stood naked before an audience and cut a Communist star on her belly with a razorblade, whipped herself numb, then lay down for 30 minutes on a cross of ice blocks with a heater burning from above, until the crowds dragged her off” (Point of Access, Maria Abramovic’s 1975 performance Role Exchange, by Anna Novakov.) To me, these sound like things that could be interpreted as having a sexual element, or even being “obscene” in their potential to deprave or corrupt. One thing that interests me about this is that it was suggested that it was not sexual because it’s her cutting herself, but obviously I have a very different view in that I believe that, even if not specifically related to this particular case, self-cutting can be seen as a sexual outlet, perhaps if there is shame about actual sexuality, so self-harm becomes a way of venting those feelings without giving into the shame of admitting sexual arousal.

I’m still not convinced that it’s possible for female artists to be seen without the aspect of their appearance forming views on their work, particularly if they use self-portraiture. I think this is why my images are sexual, seeing as I don’t see the point in denying this aspect in them. Even if I don’t agree with it, I believe that in any work where I use self-image, I will be judged just as much on my appearance through the objectification of my body as the thoughts or ideas behind my work. I think there is still definitely a view that women using their own image in art is attention-seeking, looking for validation, vanity, etc. which is why I found it important to talk about self-shot portraiture in the first place. I think that these views silence many women, myself included. I’m reluctant to use legitimate images that relate to my work because they show my body, because I feel it will be seen as frivolous, particularly as it seems that the themes I’m working on are seen as somewhat invalid, unworthy or immature. I felt that when it was suggested I was looking too much at pornography and missing the interesting issue, and feel it again through the idea that my work is somewhat gratuitous in using vaguely violent pornography, as they supposedly aren’t necessary and just add danger to the work. Sigh.

I wanted to expand on the idea of creating images that were sexual and ‘childish’, looking at the view of ‘childhood’ as being socially constructed, and something that is interpreted through visual cues. Therefore, in these images, I was posing naked, except for knee-high socks and school tie. I drew influences from the amateur self-portrait photograph that was censored from my work at university, mimicking it through the knee-high socks and Hello Kitty toy. In these images, I used the Photoshop filter (pixelate –> mosaic) to censor the parts of the image that could be read into, that gave it a context that might confuse or offend, as it seems like the issue with images like this is not the sexuality, but that viewers have no objective idea of the age of the subject, and, because of moral panics, this has a tendency to offend as it leaves people unsure.

Throughout my photography in this project, I have tried to take influences from actual pornographic media – for example, in this image I have used a pose that seems to be used to emphasise the illusion of youth.
I’m pleased that I’ve been able to use this technique of self-censorship to explore ideas, and have found that it makes the images look much more obscene or offensive – the eye is drawn to the pixelated elements of the picture, making them seem sinister, and making the uncensored aspects seem more vulnerable and unacceptable.

Altering images is something that I think I may want to continue with, particularly in obscuring photographs, taking away parts of their imagery, making it blurred and frustrating for the viewer. I’d even like to look into the possibility of detracting from, or destroying, work in pursuit of moral purity to look at how censorship can effect art practice. I intend to take more photographs like the ones above, but using more imagery to be censored, particularly through taking the photographs in my childhood bedroom, meaning that most of the image will have to be obscured. I’m finding that this sort of censorship works well in images that have explicit nudity, as the eye is drawn to the censorship, and the pixels obscuring an unexpected, innocent part of the picture opposed to censoring nudity or sexuality as is generally the case. The prospect of posting images like that is daunting, because of the negative connotations of using the body in art, and how people tend to be judged for this. Because of that, I think that I’ll probably paint from the images, as I would be interested to see if this makes the images seem ‘less real’, and therefore a step removed from showing my actual body. On the other hand, I should just stand by my principles and use them, because I’d feel a hypocrite not to – if they effectively express the message I want to convey, it would be wrong not to use them just to protect myself from fear and vulnerability.

I started trying to experiment with the censorship of my images by using Photoshop filters (pixelate – mosaic). The image above is my first attempt at this, which I don’t think is obvious enough as I used a relatively small pixel number, so I don’t think it conveys it all that well. I think it could potentially be effective to use subtle censorship like this, but I think it may work better to be able to draw obvious distinction between what is censored and what is not, because censorship makes a clear statement about what is or is not acceptable.

This is another experiment using the same filter, but this time with a larger pixel number, and applying it to a colourful image. I think that I prefer this visually, and it somewhat reminds me of the images that I took some inspiration from in doing this – fashion students on my university blog have been posting images of jewellery that is made to look pixelated.

In this example, the censorship is much more obvious, which I like, as it is censoring such innocent aspects of the image, most notably the teddybear. I also decided to experiment with more harsh methods of censorship, such as the black bar across the eyes, which I feel detracts from the image as a whole, but I believe that censorship detracts from art, so it’s apt that censorship should reflect negatively on the image. Obviously it links to the issue of being ‘identifiable’ in an image, which I like, as the subject is underage, but there’s nothing about the image that is sexual or graphic, yet there still seems to be the view that they must be ‘protected’.

In this image, I had more ‘sexual’ things to censor as well as anything that might convey youth, although I feel that youth is seen as sexuality in itself in censorship. So, in this I decided to censor the pronounced collar bone in case that added to the image of youth, the lack of cleavage, painted fingernails, colourful underwear, childish watch, and the lines drawn on the body so as to remove the idea that the image may have any intention of self-expression or social commentary. And obviously there must be some element of shame in being presented in this way – it must be exploitation – so there’s the black bar across the eyes to preserve their modesty and dignity….

I think that the next step in this will probably be to create images that employ both sexual and youthful imagery, to then censor the youthful aspects as it seems that that’s the problem in images – we don’t object to the sexuality, but to the context it’s presented in.

  • 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