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Art and Porn

"There is a sense in Joyce’s understanding that true art, as opposed to pornography, is transcendent. Art seems to be an interface between the rhythm and integrity created in the material world, which call down and attract those corresponding components of a higher realm, such that the artwork is, for the beholder, a gateway to the sublime. "
I came across this article whilst researching the sublime for my research report. I find this particular quote (left) interesting, as it speaks about how the difference between erotic art and pornography is that erotic art is a gateway to the sublime. This has inspired me to explore the relationship between erotic art and pornography. To start off this exploration, I need to gain a greater understanding of the history of porn and look further into what is known as the 'pornification of society'.
Sources used as research:
'Art and Pornography' - Hans Maes
https://www.livescience.com/8748-history-pornography-prudish-present.html
https://www.thoughtco.com/history-of-pornography-721217
https://www.wmagazine.com/story/kaplan-twins-instagram-artists-interview
http://coveteur.com/2017/03/23/artists-allie-lexi-kaplan-interview-kim-kardashian-oil-paintings/
https://galoremag.com/kaplan-twins-using-fine-arts-degree-paint-coolest-nudes/
Primary studies:
I created these images as a start off into my investigation. I drew from stills from pornographic films as advertisement and chose to use bold, contrasting colours, as I wanted to purely focus on the figures. From these drawings I think the lack of mark making and texture almost emphasise the fact that these are pornographic photos. As I look at them now, they communicate no character and no passion.  
 From this, I've decided to look more into creating more traditional paintings of a similar type of image, as I feel that this will challenge more so if there is a difference between erotic art and pornography. These images are very pornographic and don't stray over the line of erotic art at all in my own opinion. (See quote and comparison below) I feel that I can challenge opinions by producing paintings of pornographic imagery, as I feel that it may be possible that actually the choice of media could be the difference between porn and art. Does the choice of how the body is presented change how it is percepted? In 'Ways of Seeing' Berger showed the continuities between post-Renaissance European paintings of women and imagery from latter-day posters and girly magazines, by juxtaposing the different images – showing how they similarly rendered women as objects. Maybe the meaning behind erotic art and pornography is ultimately the same, however we see two reproductions of reality in very different ways. 

Process of painting a pornographic image:

 I have decided to investigate again on whether reproductions of pornographic imagery would be classed as pornography. I've chosen to create these using oil paints as my form of media, as I feel that it is the most traditional and presents my investigation in the best way so far. So far this is probably the practice I am enjoying the most as I haven't produced oil paintings as part of my practice for a long time; I find that this form of working is something I'm able to get really absorbed into. 
 When I have finished each painting, I am going to present these on social media and see what the feedback is on whether they are classed as pornography or erotic art. I've chosen to do this over social media (such as instagram and twitter) as I feel that by utilising this tool to my advantage I can reach the largest and most varied audience that I can possibly have.
“A woman must continually watch herself. She is almost continually accompanied by her own image of herself. Whilst she is walking across a room or whilst she is weeping at the death of her father, she can scarcely avoid envisaging herself walking or weeping. From earliest childhood she has been taught and persuaded to survey herself continually. And so she comes to consider the surveyor and the surveyed within her as the two constituent yet always distinct elements of her identity as a woman. She has to survey everything she is and everything she does because how she appears to men, is of crucial importance for what is normally thought of as the success of her life. Her own sense of being in herself is supplanted by a sense of being appreciated as herself by another...One might simplify this by saying: men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only most relations between men and women but also the relation of women to themselves. The surveyor of woman in herself is male: the surveyed female. Thus she turns herself into an object -- and most particularly an object of vision: a sight.”
The task during this elective was to produce a film no longer than 20seconds using only 2 sources. This film was created using clips from the well known film 'Lolita' and the reality TV show 'Girls next door' based on life in the playboy house. When I started this, I knew exactly that these were the clips that I wanted to use before even finding them on the internet. I chose to use Bridget Marquadt jumping out of the cake due to the context behind that clip; during that episode it was Hugh Heffner's birthday...her present to him was her jumping out of a birthday cake in lingerie. I feel that this is a very good representation of the male gaze theory 'men watch, women watch themselves being looked at'.
Everything about this scene in the episode is based around that Bridget is aware how Heff will see her, and her actions around her birthday present are a product of that. I also chose to feature the sound from this episode in my film, as I think the girly laughing and noises are also a good representation of her being aware how male eyes will see her. Lolita was chosen, as I find when watching the film, once aware that Humbert is interested in her. Lo's actions are all done with that in mind and she uses this to get what she wants and manipulate him...she's always aware that he is surveying her. I chose to use close up shots of this film as I wanted to draw away the focus of a younger girl with an older man, as although this is what the original story is about, it is not apart of what I am investigating.
With this film I chose to create it slightly differently to the last one. I already had my audio and wanted to choose my images as a narrative to go alongside it. During this, Hugh Hefner is speaking about the feminism movement. I chose this audio as Playboy is typically 'soft porn' produced for a male audience and therefore with the male gaze in mind during production; as a male, I thought it was an interesting piece of audio as he explains he thought he was helping the feminist movement rather than hindering it and objectifying women. I added Dita Von Teese's classic martini glass performance in this, as I think it makes you question the male gaze slightly. Burlesque is historically performed for a male audience however, in Dita von Teese's shows, the audience is dominantly women; I think that this goes against the male gaze theory nicely as when Dita performs, her audience is not male and therefore she is not performing with the male gaze in mind.
 Dita also states that the reason she wears lingerie and performs is for herself and to make herself feel sexy not for someone else to find her sexy. I think it's an interesting contrast how she is splashing around on top of an olive in a martini glass alongside the audio of a women speaking about objectification is wrong. Dita is objectifying herself, she is not being objectified,
I created this film similarly to the last one. I chose my audio to be Dita Von Teese speaking about 'how to be the girl a man never forgets', I think this really relates to the male gaze theory, as she is literally telling her audience how to behave so that I man will see you differently. I included imagery in this piece that fitted to the narrative e.g. talking about how to keep your dignity while in 'American Beauty' she's in the bath tub being viewed by a man, however she's covered up. Although this is the longest film I've made, I think it's my favourite as I find it the most visually interesting alongside the audio applying to the male gaze theory the best
I wanted to create a piece with the audio of a part of John Berger's male gaze theory. I chose to use only two sources of imagery for this piece and find similar parts in them that would not only work with the audio, but work alongside each other. I decided upon 'American Beauty' and 'From Dusk till Dawn'; although they are both very different pieces, I feel that their story lines heavily touch upon the male gaze theory.

Project Tags

  • art
  • porn
  • erotic art
  • Male Gaze
  • Feminist Art
  • feminist perspective
  • feminism
  • male
  • Female

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