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NSFW! R18: Has Internet Porn Killed the Naked Portrait?

Posted: October 6th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: ART | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on NSFW! R18: Has Internet Porn Killed the Naked Portrait?

Has Porn Killed The Nude?

Internet pornography has been on the rise since the 1980s. The ever-popular TGPs -Thumbnail Gallery Posts – have flashed the female form steadily for over two decades. Clearly this saturation of naked bods didn’t kick off with internet, Penthouse, Hustler and Playboy have all accrued billions of dollars peddling fleshy prints, the Internet however has surpassed the combined pulp volume of naked performers, and apparently internet porn is easier to hide!? ::::

Deco Bronze: Has Internet Porn Killed Nudity

None of this is new, indeed, throughout history the naked form has risen and fallen in-line with social acceptance.

The rise of the pornographic image has seen the demise of another naked form, the nude in art, or at least the nude in art as a none contentious form.

Most recently the decline in the naked form seems to have caused a steep decline in nude portraiture, more surprisingly the legitimate practice of life-drawing, pencilled, painted or pastelled figures for practise sake. Life-drawing has declined dramatically in this digital decade.

Many put this decline down to the rise of digital art, while some surmise that the decline has a more to do with confused morals. Life-drawing isn’t about sketching, outlining the contours of a naked body, its about developing cognitive skills, life-drawing is the basis for all forms of illustrative art.

In society more generally, we’ve let go of anything risqué – aside perhaps for that dastardly penchant for glamour photography – objects such as commercial sculptures, figurines like a Niclausse bronze, the glory of a naked Deco Femme, breasts thrust forward have definitely gone out of taste.

Art isn’t in the eye of the beholder, it’s in the work of its creator, if a pornographer renders a naked picture of a voluptuous woman, it’s pornography. The same subject rendered by a skilled painter is ART! So where have all of the naked bodies gone?

Has the age of internet porn turned us into prudes, shunning any form of publicly displayed nudity, has the abundance of online pornography made us wowsers when it comes to viewing artistic depictions of nudity? Clearly there is a massive difference between nudity in art and pornography, pondering vs ogling, but has the proliferation of pornography made it hard for any form of nudity to exist without overt criticism.

Has Internet Porn Turned Us Into Wowsers?

Danuta Gray: Censored Art 2013Earlier this year an artist in the UK removed her paintings from an exhibition after she discovered the curators had censored her works, placing paper strips over the rudities.

The artist, Danuta Gray was left dumbfounded, her female nudes – right – were censored, while her male nudes were left untouched.

The recent censorship of children in portraiture – and art more generally – has without doubt retarded the cause, in June this year Melbourne artists Paul Yore got himself into a bunch of trouble for exhibiting images which superimposed childrens faces over inappropriate behaviour.

Yore’s installation is on display as part of an exhibition designed to pay homage to Australian artist Mike Brown. The gallery, Linden Centre for Contemporary Art – Linden – describes Mike Brown as an artist who challenged the art world with pornographic collages, political satire and an anything-goes approach to making art.

Yore’s installation, entitled Everything is Fucked, uses poster collages, plastic toys and throwaway items to create a brightly cluttered space.

Yore reckons the aim of  his artistic endeavour is to unify dislocated elements such as fountains, colourful detritus and decorated objects to create a symbolic space.

“I want my work to reflect the ways in which one experiences the world, as a distorted, fragmented, fluctuating set of systems, signs and codes,” Yore said. “I wanted to talk about the phallocentric nature of our culture … especially in relation to the natural world, the way our society of civilisation has this very destructive relationship with the natural world.”

Mike Yore - Justin Bieber - Linden Gallery

Does placing Justin Bieber’s face into an artwork constitute a crime, it does according to Victoria Police. Linden – the gallery hosting the above Beiber picture – was forced to shutdown for a week, and the artist was charged with serious criminal offences, not for ignoring copyright, but for Producing Child Pornography. Clearly Mr Yore produced more than just Bieber cutouts, one of his works depicted the teen-celeb urinating – his penis was a dildo so as not to offend – into a sink. So where does the line between art and pornography get drawn, and who draws it?

National Association for the Visual Arts’ Tamara Winikoff  says there’s a broad range of things artists take into account when producing controversial works.

“What Yore is producing is obviously intending to be art. It’s being exhibited in an art space. People’s access to the art is discretionary,” Ms Winikoff said. “We would have to make a judgment based on seeing the work and the context in which it was shown. Because as I understand it, the work is part of a larger installation, its not just images sitting by themselves.”

The most infamous case of Stupidity in Censorship is that of Bill Henson, a well respected, celebrated photographer who’s play with light has grown an enviable reputation within the art world, but will most likely be remembered as a possible paedophile by the tabloid reading public.

In 2008 Mr Hanson’s own picture was splashed across newspaper front pages with headlines like “Police to lay child pornography charges

A reminder, Mr Henson is a well respected, celebrated photographer, a master of his craft. He’s exhibited internationally and has works on the walls of many respected institutions, including The Art Gallery of NSW and The Guggenheim New York. Ironically Mr Henson’s work is studied by the very people it’s suppose to have offended, it’s studied as part of the High School curriculum in Australia.

The hysteria over close ups of adolescent girls’ breasts or figures with blurred genitalia certainly catalysed what was until then a slowly-growing tide of dull prudishness. Political correctness is slandered with the reason for the almost outright ban on semi naked photographs of children. It’s a little senseless, paedophiles have been beating to photographs, motion pictures and even imagined thoughts of children for as long as the illness has existed, perhaps we should ban children all together?

In 2005 the Art Gallery of New South Wales held a retrospective of Henson’s work, the well publicised exhibition received NO public outcry, NO objection and NO police raids. Images within the exhibition contained the same form of adolescent nudity as present within the artworks presented 3 years later. The retrospective contained close to 1000 of Henson’s images, not a single visitor raised a complaint with the gallery. So what changed in 3 years?

On 5 June 2008 the former director of the National Gallery of Australia, Betty Churcher, said it was “not surprising” that the New South Wales Department of Public Prosecutions announced no charges would be laid regarding the Henson images.

“It would have been ridiculous to drag the case through the courts,” Ms Churcher said “…as soon as you take art into court it never works … The court is not the place to decide matters of art.”

On 6 June 2008 it was reported in The Age that police would not prosecute Bill Henson over his photographs of naked teenagers, after they were declared “mild and justified” and given a PG rating by the Australian Classification Board, suggesting viewing by children under the age of 16 is suitable with parental guidance.

Has Internet Porn Killed the Naked Portrait - Bill-Henson

Who Says it’s ART?

Censorship gone mad? If a pharmacist produces a drug, it’s medicine, if a patissiere produces his wares it’s cake and if a pornographer produces his, it’s pornography – this will be repeated – the point is it’s all in the intent! ART has throughout history been used to refer to any skill mastered to evoke the senses. Our current understanding of the word comes from beliefs cemented way back in the mid 1700s and denotes a skill used to produce an aesthetic result.

Even taking into account our current nonsensical view on prudity, art is housed away from those who don’t wish to view it, galleries are not crowded with deviants looking for a dark corner, they are places to enshrine the works of our most expressive individuals.

The definition of Art has become problematic since the beginning of the 20th century, as populations gained free thought, and more importantly freedom of expression, the over-simple aesthetic definition has stretched, the one that rings truest to our cause comes from Clement Greenberg, who defines Modern Art as “The use of characteristic methods of discipline to criticize disciple itself.” While Greenberg might have originally applied his ethos to Abstract Expressionism, it serves us well here.

Art is an entirely human human activity, it has evolved symbiotically with our human philosophies, so can pornography be considered art?

There is no denying that in art, the nude is often painted as either the result of sexual arousal, or even to entice one. Unlike pornography however, sexual arousal isn’t necessarily the point.

Alluring Aesthetic Replaced By Rampant Addiction

Pornography is predominantly pointed towards men, pornographers get that the typical man’s brain is predisposed to focus narrowly on parts rather than the whole. Internet porn is aimed at viewers in a continuous mesmerising wave. Entangled in this pornographic frenzy, the male viewer not only seems to become addicted to the simplest of sexual arousals, but to an overpowering flood of senses that has more to do with addiction than it does with simple gratification.

OK, community service announcement out of the way, the fact is that human beings are so varied – including sexually – that it’s almost impossible to list ALL the items in society that might get someone aroused. Rather than take our anxiety out – at not living in a world of our choosing – on art, perhaps the focus needs to be a little more internal?

…or we could simply start banning objects based on their sexual appeal? My vote would go to shoes – seriously, a foot fetish!?

Art is about appreciation, the viewer is lulled into a brief emotional state, induced to feel anything from bliss to disgust by an often static image. Left to ponder, the human mind relates images to long held memories, newly created biases and instant reaction.

I See Body Parts

We, especially men, rarely see more than one body part at a time, pornographers flood our senses with a manège of flailing body parts, privates mixed with palms, pouting and preened limbs flying, all at dozens of frames per second.

The humble nude portrait never had a hope of surviving, vision is a males key perceptual sense, responding with much more vigor to moving stimuli than females, it was inevitable that men were going to become trapped in the motion of pornography, all they needed was the privacy to let go.
The Entertaining Art of Pornography

Art seeks to enhance the human experience, it comments, communicates, subverts and entertains, we freely accept that film, even video games cross into the guise of art, so what role does pornography play in art?

Leon Golub's 1981 Interrogation-III

For as long as art has existed, humans have debated over what it is. According to philosopher David Novitz the disputes over what is or isn’t art are about our social values, not about art proper.

Has Internet Porn Killed the Naked Portrait - Virgin Mary by Joovs van Cleve 1525It’s hard to imagine young men sat in dark corners masturbating to Joovs van Cleve’s 1525 – right – Virgin Mary, though anything is possible, it wasn’t ever the artists intention.

As well as a very passive evocation, art has the ability to provoke, Edouard Manet’s 1863 “Le Déjeuner sur l’Herbe,” was considered scandalous, not because of the starkly naked woman, but because she’s seated next to fully dressed men in the clothing of the time, rather than in robes of the antique world.

Even in more modern times, Leon Golub’s 1981 – above – Interrogation III caused an uproar, again not for the hooded female nude, her privates in full gaze, but again for her two tormentors clad in casual everyday clothing.

Pornography also seems to cause an amount of uproar, for its depiction of women, once again it must be noted that the sensualisation of objects is not stuck simply in arts pale, a quick scan of reddit.com comes up with some oddities, a Pee Wee Herman Doll, a warm bowl of mayonnaise or a favourite teapot are just a few of the objects capable of arousing men. Yahoo’s search claims women are more adventurous, that might simply be anatomical advantage?

Art isn’t in the eye of the beholder, it’s in the work of its creator, if a pornographer renders a naked picture of a voluptuous woman, it’s pornography. The same subject rendered by a skilled painter is ART!

Having blurted all that, it is an unlikely pairing, art and pornography, the truth of it is that they both exist and will probably do so for the foreseeable future. All we can really hope for is that art continues to be inspired by pornography, and pornography by art.

Worried about what your children might see on the internet? Checkout Netnanny: www.netnanny.com
Are you addicted to porn? Checkout CANDEO’s online test: www.candeobehaviorchange.com

NOTE: This post is incomplete.

Can a naked woman ever be celebrated in the internet age?

RELATED! Can Naked Women Ever Be Celebrated in the Internet Age?

With debates raging over lads’ mags and the rise of internet porn, can a new art project, Camgirls, reclaim female nudity as something to be proud of? Felicity Capon reports. What do you think of when you hear the word ‘camgirl?’ Do you instantly think of Botticelli’s Venus, Manet’s Olympia and Picou’s Andromeda – beautiful, proud, sometimes tragic, nudes, lounging around in famous art galleries for the entire world to see?

Probably not. Your mind is more likely cast to seedy crevices of the internet, where camgirls, (also often unpleasantly described as ‘camwhores’ and ‘camsluts’) usually advertise their (bare) wares for murky cyberspace’s male punters. A camgirl is a woman who performs sex acts on the internet via a webcam. The term originally applied to anyone who videoed themselves via webcam doing anything – not necessarily sexual acts – but over time it has generally been associated with sexual behaviour. Thanks to 21-year-old former London College of Fashion student Vanessa Omoregie, this perception of camgirls could be about to change :: Read Felicity Capon’s full article »»»»

Worry About Porn Stars, Not What They Act Out on Screen

RELATED! Worry About Porn Stars, Not What They Act Out on Screen

Everyone has their own pornographic preferences. Some are clearly far more niche than others, but that’s where internet porn has proved itself a useful resource. Think of all those nervous foot fetishists who no longer have to apply for summer jobs at Barratts, or the group sex enthusiasts who don’t have to submit themselves to an STD lottery every weekend in order to get their kicks. Sure, it’s not the real thing – but so often, the fantasy is better (or at least less harrowing) than the reality anyway.

However, if David Cameron gets his way with a piece of impending legislation, one specific breed of smut consumer is going to find their chosen fantasy forbidden by law. That fantasy is what’s been dubbed “rape porn” – videos that Cameron says “normalise sexual violence against women” and that are “quite simply poisonous to the young people who see them”. The government have vowed to ban anyone from possessing or viewing this kind of porn online. Read the full VICE article »»»»

Money, Sex, & Video: My Life As A Cam-Girl [image by Ly Ngo]

RELATED! Money, Sex & Video: My Life as a Cam-Girl

Abigail Fox writes: The Valley was full of unprepossessing condos with sparsely-decorated rooms — webcams and laptops balancing on the ends of every bed. The place I worked had four rooms upstairs and one downstairs, which looked like my first basement apartment, if the basement had been in a bordello. Most of the rooms were occupied by an assortment of young women, staring into the glow of the laptop as if their clients were actually as riveting as an episode of America’s Next Top Model.

My first day on the job, I went through training with a girl who called herself Serena. I watched her giggle and flirt with unseen men, yawning and frowning whenever she turned away from the camera. Eventually she booted me into my own room and left me alone with the laptop.

My first client that night was a guy named John who just wanted to talk. For three hours. When we finished, I was $270 richer, and he felt like he knew me. Those clients seemed like such a cliché: The lonely guys who were looking for a pretend girlfriend for a couple of hours. They asked me about my day, how my schoolwork was going (for the sake of the cams, I was a 22-year-old grad student), and, if they got down to any sexual requests, it was with a hint of apology. “Would it be all right if you took off your shirt?” they’d ask. The cam site was set up so they could see and hear me, but all I saw of them was typed words on a screen; I sometimes imagined their voices as being polite and calm, especially the ones who spelled everything correctly :: Read Ms Fox’s full article »»»»

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