Nude vs. galmour

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by PhotoManiac3000, Sep 29, 2005.

  1. PhotoManiac3000

    PhotoManiac3000 Inactive

    Messages:
    72
    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2005
    Location:
    Flatbush, NY
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'm sure this topic has been beaten to death, but my brother who is a long-time photographer was recently fired from his job after his photos became too "explicit." He was a photographer for an international fashion magazine. Anyway, I'm finding more and more American media outlets are becoming increasingly prude when it comes to nude photography...as are Euorpean ones. My brother explained it to me as clearly as he could, the difference, but I do not seem to understand it. Can someone explain to me how an artistic nude photo could be considered pornography?
     
  2. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,981
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2002
    Location:
    Wine country, N. Cal.
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    NO, because there isn't an answer.

    Erotocism is using a feather and pornography is using the whole chicken.

    In the Taliban, and ankle can be pornographic.

    If it causes arousal it's pornographic.

    the list goes on....................its one of the great questions of human nature

    Michael
     
  3. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    8,003
    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2003
    Location:
    Milan
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Just an opinion but
    Both are subjective. When is a nude art? When the viewer says so. When is it accepted as art when the 'right' people say so. When is it porn? Same answers. Porn would have more to do with social mores than art. There are tons of examples of 'Art' done in Asia, Greece and Rome that would be considered by many as porn if done today.
     
  4. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,981
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2002
    Location:
    Wine country, N. Cal.
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I suppose if one wishes to go deeper, we as a society are inheritors of religeous mores that considered the after life more important than this life and as such, things like pleasure were not held in high regard. In fact they were in many instances frowned upon.

    Many other societies have fluorished that loved sexual things, pleasure and "pornography" and had a more healthy view of life, in my opinion.


    Michael
     
  5. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

    Messages:
    2,725
    Joined:
    May 18, 2005
    Location:
    Woonsocket,
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I don't recall the details, but one important legal issue (in the US) was set in a Supreme Court ruling that defines pornography in terms of "community standards." My impression is that this has basically set up a legally binding non-definition that results in a lot of room for argumentation on both sides of any debate about what is pornographic vs. what is art. It does underline what others have already posted, though -- it really is a very subjective matter. Unfortunately, that subjectivity can be a problem when it comes to the law or matters bordering on it, such as whether a photographer may be fired for crossing that ill-defined line.
     
  6. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    17,980
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Honolulu, Ha
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    In this case, though, it doesn't seem to be entirely an issue of the legal definition of pornography. A photographer might be let go for producing work that is not appropriate to the style of the publication or that the art director considers not to be in good taste, even if it is perfectly legal.
     
  7. bjorke

    bjorke Member

    Messages:
    2,032
    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2003
    Location:
    SF & Surroun
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Are Gorillaz rap, alternative, or metal? Depends largely on the predjudices of the listener and labeller.

    That said, if the work comes with a tag stating full compliance with 18USC2257 then it's probably porn :smile:
     
  8. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

    Messages:
    3,242
    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2004
    Location:
    Milwaukee, W
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Leave me see now..ummm..Pornography is in the eye of the beholder.
     
  9. Gerald Koch

    Gerald Koch Member

    Messages:
    1,670
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Wasn't it Justice William O. Douglas who said that he couldn't define pornography but he knew it when he saw it.
     
  10. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

    Messages:
    4,350
    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2005
    Location:
    Montréal (QC
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The other question we wish to consider is whether pornography can be antithetical to art. IF it is porno, then is it AUTOMATICALLY not art? For some people it's one or the other. I'd be more inclined to believe that there are things such as porno and not-porno, the same way there are things such as art and not-art.

    Art is more in the making of things, not in its subject matter. If everything that wasn't art was porno, then a highway would be pornographic!
     
  11. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,981
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2002
    Location:
    Wine country, N. Cal.
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    How about "if you wait long enough everything is art."


    Michael
     
  12. Charles Webb

    Charles Webb Member

    Messages:
    1,723
    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2004
    Location:
    Colorfull, C
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Somewhat along the lines of what David said, I can add a couple more creative reasons for dismissing a photographer of long standing with a publication. His work may be perfect and wonderful, but a newly hired editor, art director etc. may find the photographers style is not to his personal liking. He then creates a reason to fire then hire his own personal
    choice of photographers. Another that hits the longe time photographer is his earning power may have reached the point of diminishing return to the publisher, they can bring in a younger person with less skill to replace the "old Pro" for far less expenditure. Even with the new comers errors and mistakes they can train him to do what they want for far less cost to them.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------
    It would not at all be out of line to think that the photographer was not let go for being too explicit in fashion work, but for one of these two reasons I suggest.
     
  13. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

    Messages:
    4,350
    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2005
    Location:
    Montréal (QC
    Shooter:
    Multi Format

    That's the gist of it. I hope not everything becomes porno otherwise we won't see the end of censorship.
     
  14. David

    David Member

    Messages:
    309
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2002
    Location:
    Melbourne, V
    Shooter:
    ULarge Format
    Didn't someone say on a long-ago thread that if a nude is in focus it's pornography but if it's out of focus it's art?
     
  15. smieglitz

    smieglitz Member

    Messages:
    1,941
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2002
    Location:
    Climax, Michigan
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    To paraphrase May West, the difference between art and pornography is good lighting.
     
  16. Peter De Smidt

    Peter De Smidt Member

    Messages:
    1,064
    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2004
    Location:
    Fond du Lac,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    There is no perfectly acceptable definition of pornography that I know of. Still, here's a try: a photograph is pornographic when the main intent behind it is to create sexual excitement. It's "good" porn when it accomplishes this and "bad" porn when it does not. (Clearly what counts as good porn for person X can count as bad porn for person Z.) So defined, pornagraphy is not inherently immoral, unless one thinks that sexual desire is inherently immoral, a fuddy duddy view if ever there was one.

    A number of people have tried to differentiate "porn" from "eroticism", with the former being inherently evil and the latter being at least acceptable. In my experience these types of distinctions depend on very controverial views of degradation: What my grandmother thought was degrading is vastly different from what Jerry Springer apparently thinks. This devolves the issue into a matter of taste, and while that may be enough to decide whether a specific individual should look at or create certain pictures, it's clearly not a good enough reason to say that such pictures shouldn't be made or looked at by others.

    Often in these debates, people claim that one shouldn't treat another person as an object. As a moral claim, this goes back to Kant's Categorical Imperative, one form of which went as follows: don't treat other people *only* as a means to your own ends.
    Notice the "only". Of course it's OK to treat other people as means. I treat my employer as a means to make money, just as she does the same to me. It's not treating someone as a means that's the problem. It's treating them only as a means that is, because when you do this you're treating a person in a way that should be reserved for objects, things without the capacity for moral action.

    The Categorical Imprative, though, is a little opaque. I suggest that it means something like the following: don't treat other people in a way that a rational person wouldn't agree to unless coerced. Sure, that's not perfectly clear, since there's no universally acceptable definition of "rational". Nonetheless, this definition gives us some idea of what Kant was up to.

    So if people are forced to take part in making pornographic pictures, that's bad; and if they don't have a decent understanding as to what's involved, or what implications of such participation might be, then that's bad too. But if neither of those things apply, then the Categorical Imparative doesn't support a condemnation of porn. Hence, one can't reasonably condemn a work of pornography as being immoral simply by saying "it's treating people as objects!" After all, basketball treats people as objects. Imagine something that is not an object making a three pointer or getting a rebound.
     
  17. derevaun

    derevaun Member

    Messages:
    67
    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2005
    Location:
    Oly, WA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    IMHO the critical element is "appeals to prurient interest." The photographer may have some self-serving notion that he or she is making art, but if the audience uses it partly to gratify lascivious longings, it's partly porn.

    I'm alarmed at how puritanical American culture is becoming, but I'm equally alarmed at how sexual exploitation gets such frequent cover in circular arguments about art and artiness. Or just cover in pagefuls of "nice tones" comments at photo.net.
     
  18. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,981
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2002
    Location:
    Wine country, N. Cal.
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Testosterone is manufactured at an enormous rate in the human male to the point of him almost being insatiable.

    Anybody with any sense would have gotten in the porn business the minute they figured out why Victoria Secret needed to print so many catalogues.

    Therefore, almost any image can be used for prurient purposes at any given time. In fact the more repressive the society the worse it becomes.

    Therefore the art/porn debate is pretty much useless, because they're virtually interchangeable depending on the excess testosterone the viewer has accumulated at the moment of viewing.

    However to a 60 year old women with cats, it is all pretty obvious. It's all filth.


    Michael
     
  19. vet173

    vet173 Member

    Messages:
    1,212
    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2005
    Location:
    Seattle
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    If you bought it at Christies, it's art. If you bought it at the 7-11 it's porn.
     
  20. noseoil

    noseoil Member

    Messages:
    2,898
    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2003
    Location:
    Tucson
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'm thinking of some of the recently posted work to our gallery by "Faye" out of Scotland. To me it is beautifully done and not even remotely related to porn. I would wager if it were hung in a gallery in Salt Lake City, she would be burned at the stake. If submitted to a porn magazine for consideration, it would end up in the trash without a second look.


    Funny to see law and moral values trying to mix and then find a verbal description which is concrete and universal, it just can't happen. The comment about the Taliban was very humorous to me. Would love to see a pamphlet dropped over there showing nothing but ankles with frilly lace. Perhaps those guys would all take a break for chicken choking and forget to blow things up for a day or two. I guess it is similar to what Austrailia says about American T.V. "Sex and violence" there's too much violence and not enough sex. tim
     
  21. Andy K

    Andy K Member

    Messages:
    9,422
    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2004
    Location:
    Sunny Southe
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If you're happy to openly view it on the train to work it's art, if not it's porn. :wink:
     
  22. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

    Messages:
    3,242
    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2004
    Location:
    Milwaukee, W
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I think the work of Robert Marplethorpe qualifies as both art and porn.
     
  23. Allen Friday

    Allen Friday Member

    Messages:
    878
    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2005
    Shooter:
    ULarge Format
    Definitions from Black’s Law Dictionary, Fifth Edition, 1979.

    “Art”. “Systematic application of knowledge or skill in effecting a desired result; also such employment, occupation , or business requiring such knowledge or skill; a craft; as industrial arts.”

    “Pornographic”. “That which is of or pertaining to obscene literature; obscene; licentious. Material is pornographic or obscene if the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the work taken as a whole appeals to the prurient interest and if it depicts in a patently offensive way sexual conduct and if the work taken as a whole lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value. Miller v. California….”

    “Prurient Interest”. “A shameful or morbid interest in nudity, sex or excretion…. Prurient means having lustful ideas or desires….An obsessive interest in immoral and lascivious matters.” Citations omitted.

    “Obscenity”. “The character or quality of being obscene; conduct tending to corrupt the public morals by its indecency or lewdness.

    “Material is obscene if, considered as a whole, its predominant appeal is to prurient interest, that is, a shameful or morbid interest, in nudity, sex or excretion, and if in addition it goes substantially beyond customary limits of candor in describing or representing such matters….Undeveloped photographs, molds, printing plates, and the like, shall be deemed obscene notwithstanding that processing or other acts may be required to make the obscenity patent or to disseminate it.”

    “Pandering of Obscenity.” “Business of purveying pictorial or graphic matter openly advertised to appeal to erotic interest of customers, or potential customers, by either blatant and explicit advertising or subtle and sophisticated advertising.”

    “Dominant Theme.” Without meaning of requirement that before any material can be found to be obscene the dominant theme of material taken as a whole must appeal to prurient interist in sex means prevailing, governing, influencing or controlling state.”

    That should clear up the issue completely. :smile: