"Artistic Pornography"

Discussion in 'Fashion/Glamour/Figure' started by Christopher Nisperos, Nov 3, 2006.

  1. Christopher Nisperos

    Christopher Nisperos Member

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    Recently I was in a comic book store here in Paris, frequented by adult collectores and fans (comic books are a cult item here and in Belgian ... excellent stuff).

    Near the 'adult comics' section, I happened across a display of photography books, including one entitled, "Porn Art". Curious by the juxtaposition of terms in the title, I thumbed through the book and —jokes aside— I was really impressed by the quality of photography, regardless of the subject matter.

    "Hmm", I thought, " 'artistic pornography' ". The question came to mind:
    are the terms necessarily mutually exclusive? I mean, as a fan of Hollywood glamour portrait lighting, I've always maintained that the last real bastion of that genre is (or used to be —now that digital means have replaced traditional) Playboy magazine .. all the elements were there: large format, fresnel spots, retouching on the film, etc.

    As well, my friend Ed Fox comes to mind. For years he has created some beautiful images in the genre of fetish photography (women's feet). When he first told me about it years ago, I laughed. Then I saw some of his astonishing images and it shut me up. Ed's Art Center background hasn't gone to waste.

    Basically, my mind is made up on the question. I have no problem with the issue. However, I'm particularly interested though in hearing from those who feel that pornography cannot in anycase be considered artistic (agreeing, in advance, that are varying degrees of pornography).

    Best,

    Christopher
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 3, 2006
  2. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    A very interesting subject. America has been trying to define "what is porn" for years. Phtrases ranging from" I can't explain it, but I know it when I see it" and "sexual imagery with no artistic or social merit" have been batted about, as well as a zillion other viewpoints and positions. In Utah, where I live, a poll was taken on the subject, and a measurable portion of the populace here consider Michelangelo's statue of David to be pornographic.
    That is an an extreme and unfathomably ignorant position, of course, but it exists, nontheless.

    What it illustrates is that the term "pornography", is subjective, and really doesn't mean anything specific. Something that has artistic value and relevance, can't be pornographic, by my way of thinking. It could be sexually graphic, obviously not approprate for children, or those with immature concepts regarding the human body(see above) But not porn. Thats my subjective opinion.
     
  3. naturephoto1

    naturephoto1 Subscriber

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    Hi Jason,

    Regardless of the immigrants coming to the United States for Religious reasons (particularly early on) they also brought their opinions regarding sex, sexual practices and beliefs, etc. with them. So unfortunately even today in the US we have some rather Puritanical views on what is pornographic. As a result the US tends to have a more restrictive view than most of the rest of the world, particularly Europe on this issue.

    Rich
     
  4. dmr

    dmr Member

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    Not to start a war of the sexes here, I would like to speak freely.

    I do think this is also a question of semantics, as there are many perceptions of what is pornography and what is not pornography.

    There is erotic art, and then there is porn.

    Erotic art captures the intimacy of certain human experiences.

    Porn (the way I define the term) does not.

    I have a feeling you are talking about serious and legitimate erotic art and not what I and many others call pornography.

    The material I would call pornography, and yes, I've seen it, I'm a big girl and I've been around the block by myself, is crude and patently offensive -- that which triggers part of the "Miller Test" that we studied in Media Law.

    Speaking very freely, much of what I would call pornography is incredibly crude and demeaning. It's obviously produced by men, for men, for the purpose of arousal, period. There is no intimate artistry in this type of production. I'm sure everybody knows exactly what type of material I am referring to. (It's obvious that the producers of some of what I have seen have no {f-bomb}ing clue, pun intended, as to what intimacy really is.)

    Oh well, enough ranting. I really think we're on the same page as far as being able to appreciate erotic art. I think the hang-up is in defining what porn is, and I would say that if it has true artistic merit, it is not porn.
     
  5. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    Agreed. All we have to do now is determine WHAT is meant by "Having artistic value and relevance."

    What a slippery slope... What about the Etruscan murals, the murals on the Tantric Temples in India ... and the images on some of the Ancient Greek coins (ca. 500 BCE)?

    I remember a conversation between the Artist, Norman Lindsay, and the Minister, played by Hugh Grant, in the movie "Sirens":

    Minister: "we really would like to have you remove your paintings (from an Art Show in Australia). We feel they are terribly inappropriate."

    Lindsay: "Inappropriate? In what way?"

    M. "We feel that they would incite the people to mayhem and rape."

    L. "Did you see my work?"

    M. "Yes, and ..."

    L. "Migawd!! Who did you rape?"
     
  6. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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  7. juan

    juan Subscriber

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    I've found that lots of folks equate nudity with pornography.
    juan
     
  8. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    I had a real live experience with someone's failure to distinguish between the two, right here on APUG. I posted an image of a solo male nude, with dramatic lighting, no signs of arousal anywhere in sight, and no sexual activity solo or otherwise transpiring in the image. Someone seeing it determined for themselves that "sodomy" was transpiring in this photo. It takes a rather fertile imagination to get from one flaccid penis to an act of penetration. But somehow this individual did.
     
  9. Bromo33333

    Bromo33333 Member

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    I was raised in Missouri in the Midwest ("Flyover region" for the coastal dwellers who haven't bothered with basic geography... :rolleyes: ) - and the place is very conservative:surprised: . For that area, I think the following definition hits about 80-90% of the people living there:

    Pornography: Anything involving partial or full exposure of primary or the main part of secondary sexual organs under any context, or anything involving sexual acts (i.e. involving primary or secondary sexual organs, or WOULD involve them if you could make it out in the picture, statue or film) of any kind (such as a love scene in a movie, though passionate kissing alone won't qualify since I think lips would be tertiary in this case). Also any sexuality of any kind depicted between non heterosexuals.

    Caveat: This is NOT an intellectual definition meant to be argued over between Coastal types and "Flyover" types - it is meant to fence off an area of human activity and label it, pat each other on the back, and get on with life. It won't (and doesn't) stand up to a lot of scrutiny, and as politicians in the Midwest don't want to be seen as mideval, will end up when pressed blustering out the typical "I know it when I see it" answers - even though I doubt they really believe Michelangelo's David is not porn.

    I think that ought to do it.

    Even people who are from "Flyover" (even me) who think they are and try to be enlightened, will at least feel (inwardly) mild discomfort when exposed to that sort of thing, even if it is meant to be artistic or "erotic" or whatever. It has been internalized - and is not an intellectual process. I suppose this is appropriate, since sexuality itself is not an intellectual process (how's THAT for rationalization! :wink: )

    Since many other types won't have been raised with the above definition, and many have - I can see how there may be "debate" about it ....

    [Now if this doesn't kill the thread ... I don't know what will! :tongue: ]
     
  10. Bromo33333

    Bromo33333 Member

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    I you see my definition of "Porn" as I grew up with in Missouri - the depiction of a primary sexual organ might have done it. Not sure where sodomy came in - but perhaps the definition needs to expand to any depiction of males in any sexual way might be considered homoerotic...?
     
  11. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    Glad you spoke up. Usually I'm the lone female voicing an opinion. I agree with you 100%.
     
  12. Bromo33333

    Bromo33333 Member

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    What is the "Miller Test" - I never studied Media Law ...


    I think that sums it up pretty much. It is the depiction of a fantasy world that does not exist - and should not. But apparently given the amount of Spam I get on a daily basis sells pretty well.

    Or have no interest in presenting it in their productions.

    I would agree - but there are millions of people who would not.
     
  13. Bromo33333

    Bromo33333 Member

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    I forgot to add that this is not MY definition of it, just how the region I grew up in treated that stuff.
     
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  15. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    This surprised me ... a national survey was taken of the Video Rental shops, by an association of porno movie producers, to determine WHO was renting their work... and the results surprised everyone: 56% were rented by WOMEN!!
     
  16. dmr

    dmr Member

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    IANAL, and it's been many years since I studied this. It was Miller vs. {mumble} which established the test for what was legally obscene and therefore not protected expression. It is (was?) a 3-part test.

    1. It must be patently offensive, in an of itself.

    2. It must appeal to the prurient interest. (Must be sexually oriented.)

    3. (This one is difficult to remember and from what I hear has been re-interpreted over and over.) When taken as a whole, it must lack artistic, literary, or political content. (Very unsure of wording here, I hope you get what I am trying to say.)

    Porn is something for which there is seemingly an endless demand. If you have it, they will beat a path to your door and beg to buy it.

    True. Depictions of intimacy are not what the porn customers are after.

    I've lived in Flyover Country(tm) for the past 30 years. Although most of the people I associate with, in work, socially, etc., seem to have a good handle on mature topics, many do not.

    Unfortunately, I get the feeling that many of these customers of the porn producers (like customers of the "adult industry" as a whole) are those who vehemently disavow their interest in such things. Yes, we all know the type, and there are countless of them here in Flyover Country and on the coasts.
     
  17. catem

    catem Member

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    It could be that they want to watch it, or it could be because some of the men get their women folk to fetch it for them.

    I always remember as a youngster of about ten or so, watching a man ask his wife to go and buy his copy of playboy. He stood back looking embarrased as she went and bought it....

    I'm not saying they would necessarily be embarrassed about it, just that it's added to her shopping list....

    Cate
     
  18. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    Personally I don't find anything relating to the human body "porn". That is unless there are victims involved. Human beings are sexual creatures and nothing about the viewing of any aspect of it bothers me.

    Where there can be problems is not the act of taking the pictures, or the act of being photographed for the pictures of the act of viewing the pictures, but the problem of being addicted to looking at those pictures exclusively.

    So in my opinion there is nothing pornographic in the depiction of human beings involved in any aspect of their lives, unless they are victimizing someone.

    The people who do object to human sexuality and its depiction in any form or art (whatever that is) are usually people who have an unhealthy view of their own bodies. To some people nudity equals sexuality, and to them any form of sexuality is disturbing. The depiction of an erect penis (god, I just about fainted) has somehow in this culture become the equivalent "porn or dirty" when in reality it's good, it's fun and it's real handy to have around.

    What offends me is stupidity.

    Michael
     
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  19. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    I wonder if their business here in Missouri is as hot (pun intended) as in more sophisticated markets. I suspect it thrives, although local customers might not want to admit it.

    Pornography certainly can be art. Mapplethorpe comes to mind. Although he sometimes used photography to promote himself and his fetishes, it was fine photography. Ansel Adams sometimes used photography to promote conservation, and it was fine photography. It's not the subject matter, but how it is done, that makes the difference.
     
  20. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    I believe it was Robert Bresson who opined that 'in the nude... that which is not beautiful is pornographic' which works for me.

    I'll just make a personal observation here, to me most of what I see promoted as 'erotica' I read as 'deliberately dull porn.'
     
  21. bruce terry

    bruce terry Member

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    Hmmm. Artistic pornography. The 'Art' World sure thinks there is such. Some of Mapplethorpe's distressing stuff comes immediately to mind and where I would think a well-laid and well-lit male member on a table-top is just plain silly, others will rant porn where still others will rave artistic breakthrough - real proof that no matter what the experts (or we) say, 'art' is in the eye of the beholder, be he or her a priss or a debaucher. Very democratic actually. Me, I'm in the 'emotional' camp that some have mentioned.

    Genuine museum-level naked-art aside, 99.99% of so-called prurient images displayed in contemporary printed matter, art shows, internet forums and porn sites are shockingly mechanical to me - be they of a member on (or in) a table or of a naked lady on a rock (or something else). But once in a great while a picture has EMOTION AND CONTEXT, the subject (or subjects) BELONG in their surroundings, and everything is right ... and if supremely well-executed, it's art, and it's humanity, like everything else.
     
  22. catem

    catem Member

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    Agreed. Pictures (especially photographs) of bodies can somehow be about what's best in humanity or about what's worst. It can be something positive, and uplifting, (beauty, desire, sensuality, connection, empathy, even humour) or it can be reduced to the mechanical stuff, but in such a way that it often seems more to do with emotions like hatred and fear, funnily enough not only hatred of the subject but also the viewer.

    Cate
     
  23. mark

    mark Member

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    I think what is at issue here is more a definition of just what pornography is. What is obscene to one is not going to be obscene to another. There is not a way to define it. So there is no answer and no way to judge beyond our own personal definition.


    Sure I think the concept is possible. I am not sure I have seen any, but the possibility is out there.
     
  24. Drew B.

    Drew B. Subscriber

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    my New England puritan two cents: a nude person, (male or female) standing, sitting, lying is not porn. A sexual act (no..not kissing or hugging) could be considered in some way, porn. Bondage is definately porn. I think the viewer has to either look or not look. Myself, I would feel more relaxed looking at a female than a male.....:smile:
    ...and NO, the statue of David is not porn!
     
  25. Drew B.

    Drew B. Subscriber

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    Two reasons: 1.the women want to get their men aroused and apparently will do anything. (women sometimes create their own problems) 2. their men don't have the balls to get it themselves! sorry
     
  26. arigram

    arigram Member

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