Mr. H浪奔 [Ben Lang] (2011)

Originally, this was supposed to follow up my post on close-ups and the notion of the foreign-in-the-familiar.

A series of unfortunate events–bad weather, illness, intoxication and the Internet at my accommodations crashing–made that impossible. Maybe it’s better that way.

I don’t necessarily dispute what I suggested. I just think the foreign-in-the-familiar indicates something more in line with those puzzles in children’s media where they a extreme close up that’s been all reoriented to be wawker-jawed and one has to recognize the original object.  (And one of them is always a goddamn manhole cover–WTF is that about?)

I would have been much better served by suggesting a metaphor with detail insets. For example: here’s the absolutely fucking brilliant Ghent Altarpiece; and here’s a detail inset of Eve holding some type of citrus.

In photography/digital imaging (which really need to be treated mutual exclusive disciplines that share a common lineage but suffered a irrevocable schism and are roughly as non-interchangeable as the Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodoxy), the close-up is comparable to the detail inset de-linked from the original contextual totality. In other words: in art you see the big picture first and then a small detail of the big picture is brought into sharper focus–by focusing on a part of the whole the whole gains further specificity of meaning; in photography/digital imaging, it’s the other way around– one focuses on the detail and from the detail has to intuit the broader context. That’s great if a broader context has been exists, has been established, is explicit. The problem is when the close-up relies upon the interest generated by an atypical manner of seeing to sell the frame independent of broader detail.

(It occurs to me that this detail inset metaphor functions exquisitely when applied to cinema before–and I’m guesstimating here–the late 70s/early 80s with the exception of Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc; however, even that used close-up is an exceedingly well-reasoned and above all consistently applied manner.)

There is a great deal of contextual information that can be sussed out from The Frenzy of the Visible’s masturbatory Self-Portrait–things about the space occupied by the subject, that the light is daylight coming through a window, etc.. Mr. H, on the other hand–although clever in his framing which implies the explicit instead of showing it–removes any sort of contextual cue to focus attention on the ejaculatory aftermath of a male bodied individual masturbating to orgasm. I won’t lie: this makes my brain run 200 km/h in the wrong lane* about potential applications for the wonderfully surreal textures semen exhibits under the light pushing overexposure. Still, such detail would have been equally visible and more compelling–although also more explicit and therefore more challengingto present artfully–with more context.

Lastly, although its soft-core coyly pushing up against hard-core is hardly my cup of tea, Mr. H seems–after a cursory scan–to have a good bit more instinctive talent than any image maker I can think of making similar work targeted at heteronormative types.,

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