Vanity, vanity, all is vanity. – ubiquitous paraphrase of Ecclesiastes 1:2
There’s no way around it: no matter how lovely, this is a dick pic.
Seeing it as such it’s easy to focus on the impetus for such leering color: friction? lipstick? Photoshop? I’m not really interested in that.
I am almost tempted to interrogate the close-up frame and bokeh, attribute them to a so-ascetic-as-to-be-decontextual minimalist aesthetic bent.
But my thoughts drift further afield; circle and finally alight on the concept of vanity.
Carly Simon would have us believe vanity is seeing oneself as the bright center of the universe around which smaller, less bright things swirl.
And any art history student worth their salt will couch things in terms of mirrors.
There is, however, a danger in conflating symbol with meaning–narcissism is decidedly self-sustaining; vanity must feed off others.
In a way, vanity requires empathy.
I want to double back to that matter of this being a dick pic but I feels necessary to suggest a corollary with the so-called selfie.
I am not sure it’s wrong to think of them as vain as long as it is borne in mind that the selfie can also be an ontological document–look here I am in this place-time.
I feel like what makes a shitty dick pic is narcissism combined with ontology–this is me-now, this is my desire which is your desire.
To me that is what this image does so exquisitely well: it displaces any vestige of ontology to elicit an unselfconscious perspective. There is no identity, merely a view one or any lover might glimpse of another.