Source unknown – Title unkonwn (201X)

In biology: a ‘raphe’ is a longitudinal seam that usually indicates some sort of mid-line.

There’s one in the medulla oblongata as well as one running from the anus through the mid-line of human genitalia. (pictured above you can see the perineal raphe.)

It is thought that the biblical account of creation where God removes a rib from Adam to make Eve is actually an errant translation and that the actual meaning was something closer to a reference to the fact that unlike most placental mammals, humans do not have baculum. (The folk wisdom is that since god took the bone from Adam and used it to make eve; the raphe is less seam and more vestigial scar tissue.)

FTVGirlsBrea (2010)

As far as porn outfits go, FTVGirls is tres problematic. First, there’s the use of the word ‘girl’–which I find more problematic than ‘teen’ and ‘barely legal’ porn. A girl is 11 or 12; in the US someone has to be at least 18 years old to appear in pornographic images/videos. At which point they’re no longer a girl but a grown ass woman.

Also, with FTV there seems to be a fixation with IPD–improvised penetrative devices, especially with extremely large or otherwise unusual props.

That being said–although I loathe their bright, airy SoCal meets daylight studio suffusion of white-on-white light aesthetic–they are at least head and shoulders above most other mainstream porn purveyor in that they actually demonstrate some creative use of technology.

For example: with the image above, You’d expect most porn to have a greater depth of field that would’ve render both her genitals and her face in focus simultaneously. And while the shallow depth of field is intended to draw attention to what’s happening w/r/t her genitalia, I love the way it diminishes the camp value of her expression. (My instinct–if I’d been shooting this would be to focus on her face, while letting the foreground and background bokeh. But I’m pretty sure that would’ve resulted in awkwardness that would render the frame pretentiously arty yet still too porny to really ever be even remotely close to artistic.)

Either way, I really do love the way Brea’s expression scans her.

EDIT: Due to travel related distraction, I neglected to un-queue this. I still agree with my superficial observations; however, I think it would’ve been more interesting to compare/contrast with this image by Natalia Nobile. I feel like both have entirely identical aims that neither quite manages to achieve completely.

Giangiacomo PepeUntitled (2013)

(PART I)

Back in 1999, Garrison Keillor suggested a broader conceptualization of what sex entails.

Sex is not a mechanical act that fails for lack of technique, and it is not a performance by the male for the audience of the female; it is a continuum of attraction that extends from the simplest conversation and the most innocent touching through the act of coitus.

A dear friend had posted it on her Facebook. It was literally the first thing I saw–all bleary-eyed–this morning.

It was one of those Oh shit moments where someone else somehow manages to express something you’ve been stumbling over for half a decade with a spare elegance.

For me, my experience of photography belongs to Keillor’s sexual spectrum. I mean, what but beauty causes anyone to lift a camera and sight a shot?

My reaction to beauty is unswervingly reliable: it overwhelms me, somersaults my tummy; makes me a blushing, shoe-tip-staring, dirt-kicking, boy-crazy teenage girl wanting from lips that won’t wet to shuddering knees.

***

Soon after the Keillor quote, Willow reblogged this from Sex Positive Activism

I was like what the fuck? A second Oh shit moment in the same day?

Okay, confession time: other than masturbation, I have been celibate for four-and-a-half-years. This is less a personal imperative than the fact that I am too irrevocably fucked for anyone to ever reciprocate the wanting I feel for them.

People always tell me that I need to have confidence. I think that’s bullshit. I don’t lack confidence. I lack a sense of entitlement.

When I was a film student, everyone worked with was invariably asked to do something either outrageous or obscene. No one took issue. Well, mostly. (In hindsight, I realize that I unintentionally created some very fucked up situations for people about whom I claimed to care a great deal.)

A number of things happened to shift this but one in particular stands out. For a group project, I had envisioned a scene with a bleeding, naked man smeared with mud running down a forest track. The actor who was supposed to play the part was a no-call/no-show and so I had to stand in. I was completely unnerved–I have always had a lot of body issues, they just haven’t always been the same–by the prospect of being naked in front of the small crew. I insisted on doing the scene wearing boxer shorts.

Watching the first and only (long story) screening, besides how my refusal to go nude ruined the scene, it hit me how fucked it was that I expected someone else to do the scene nude but I was unwilling to disrobe once I was in front of the camera.

***

As a result of these experiences, I abide by three etched-in-stone rules for photographing others:

  1. The photographer will under no circumstances touch the person(s) being photographed.
  2. The photographer will never ask anyone to enact anything the photographer would be unwilling to enact were the roles reversed.
  3. The photographer will never ask the person(s) being photographed to do anything the person(s) being photographed would not mutually desire the photographer to perform were the roles reversed.

***

The above image is not without flaws but between the mirror and the way she is reaching back to pull aside the crotch of her undergarment to reveal her vulva and anus, it is pornographic and capital fucking-A artful.

This is the type of work I want to make–conveying anger-verging-on-vaguely-self-destructive-arousal. I hardly expect Pepe to abide by my rules but the edge between consent and coercion is ambiguous enough on a good day that I worry about what goes on behind the scenes at his shoots.

I just don’t know how one ethically gets so many people to allow themselves to be vulnerable enough to pose in such a fashion. So many photographers seem to photograph their friends. That would be my preference. But the people in my life–who are fucking awesome and I wouldn’t trade for all the most-getting naked-est friends in the world–all have hang ups about nudity. It’s not that they aren’t sex-positive. (I just can’t do sex negativity. Not even a little.)

I worry that my own sexual frustration and realization that no one will ever ache for me the way I ache for them has tainted or will taing my work. It seems like if I could just find someone with whom I could share this sort of experimental openness in my work it would solve my problems.

The depressing truth is–there is no one who feels in kind toward me.

Butow MalerLena and Extreme (2013)

This appears to be from Maler’s eMagination 05: Porn Art. (A full, lo-res preview is available on Blurb.)

Here: my gaze enters the frame following the baseboards rightward thrust; the reversed symmetry of her left food to his right foot draws my eye away from the deep shadows dominating the left third of the frame; reverse symmetry is emphasized again by the echoed angles of their opposing, correspondent legs.

Upward trajectory is reinforced by the momentum of his taut musculature–sumptuously rendered in B&W–leaning into her body her body at an angle almost perfectly perpendicular to the baseboard approach vector.

In the gap between their bodies, her right breast is framed and balanced against the dizzyingly sharp focus on her left hand transferring her unsupported weight onto his arm, which in turn pulls her center of gravity towards him; the way his arm hiding her face (LOVE); the nearly seamless skin tone merging between the inside of her left knee and his triceps. 

Lastly, I notice the wall’s texture. (Look closely, the faintest hint of it recurs in the left third of the frame, differentiating between the strobes vignetting and shadow cast by his body.

For all it’s sophistication, the couple’s pose is unwieldy. Yes, it convey some of the immediacy, the laser-like focus on sensation that can mark the initiation of intimacy. All well and good but this doesn’t square with Maler’s subtitle: Porn Art.

Word order is always telling: art appended to porn. On one level, the implicit claim works: the images demonstrate a solid grasp of craft and familiarity with art conventions. On another level: thought the presentation is consummately ‘artistic’–I find it neither especially arousing nor justified in its pretense to Art.

In effect, it has matters turned the wrong way ’round: it’s one thing to make sexuality the crux of one’s creative output; quite another, to create work from a template of what is considered meritorious–it is possible to make Art that is pornographic (Klimt’ll tell you all about it); Porn Art is not nor will it ever be a ‘real’ thing.

kindnessinyoureyes:

Adam
London, June 2013

This is a thoughtful way to present a male-bodied nude: soles of both feet exposed, clenched ass, the arching line of the spine and the his right arm covers his face; except for the heavily dangling scrotum and cut definition of trapezius and deltoid musculature, it is an androgynous-to-effeminate depiction– explicit, vulnerable and mysterious.

It reminds me of one of my favorite images from last year. (That post is worth re-reading as it covers ground I’ll be skipping this time around.)

Comparing these two images does Leonidas’ work a disservice. And although I will give him credit for shooting film (Fuji’s Superia color negative, in this case), most of the faults are a result of sloppy craft.

This is the most egregious example of #skinnyframebullshit, I’ve posted. Whereas most people deploy portrait orientation to the end of reifying the verticality of the composition–lame at best as far as justification goes, lazy at worst–the subject here is not vertical.

You can feeling it just looking at the image but to see it visualize the center vertical as a fulcrum balancing the rear leg of the chair (frame left) and the top of the boy’s head (frame right). Notice the rightward thrust. Add this to the light pooling in overexposed puddles on the floor and back wall, the lack of space between the chair and wall and the flow of the composition is decidedly right leaning. The angle of the shot is an effort to use the line where the floor meets the wall as a means of adding dimensionality but this only exacerbates the existing problems with the slant.

Landscape orientation would have made a much more dynamic composition. And while this lacks the audacity of the image of which it reminds me, it might have done a better job standing on its own.

Criticisms notwithstanding, the scarcity of images depicting male-bodied persons in a simultaneously ‘formal’ and sexually charged imagery is such a rarity, that efforts, however flawed, deserve acknowledgement.

Scarlett Hooft GraaflandTurtle (2013)

While in Amsterdam, I ended up at Huis Marseille instead of FOAM. (If this seems improbable, let me reiterate “while in Amsterdam…”)

My mistake turned out to be fortuitous.

The entire gallery was taken up by The Rediscovery of the World, a group show featuring work from up-&-coming Dutch image makers.

Huis Marseille is a sprawling, disjointed space. Despite this, the work was arranged to ensure each of the fourteen artists had their own space & that the work flowed logically from one space the next. Intrusions of the curatorial hand were minimal and always concise. Any accompanying information set aside from the work and limited to pertinent biographic details, conceptual/process related notes only.

I love the photographic medium but I am not always enamored with ‘fine art’ photography. Not the case here. I preferred some work more than the rest (In particular: Juul Kraijer, whose work gave my goosebumps goosebumpy and made me feel all light-headed & tingly), but a facet of each of the artists work managed to resonated with me.

For example: I can’t pretend I understand Scarlett Hooft Graafland’s work. Her schtick seems to be going to exotic locals (in this case Madagascar) & using naturally occurring material to create oneric imagery. She definitely has mad chops when it comes to capturing supersaturated color color: the consistency of her blue skies is wild and the yellow in We are not your Enemies is fucking insane.

Turtle stuck out like a sore thumb next to the rest of the work, though. When everything else is about color intervention in the landscape, the appearance of what seems the photographer herself, nude and kneeling next to a muddy river with a tortoise shell on her back.

The image isn’t entirely out of character with the rest of the works in the exhibit; but it’s hardly in line with them, either. Seeing it as relating to the other work, suggested a narcissism–the Westerner who travels to foreign lands and in a well-meaning effort to present the indigenous people’s as they are, ends up co-opting a culture to which she has no right.

I am not sure my instinct was off, so much as it jumped three to five steps further than it should have. Graafland made photos of herself nude, bent over the peak of roofs in Iceland almost a decade ago. Turtle like represents a continuation of that practice.

I feel like there’s a trap here, in a way. Seeing a bare ass, there’s a tendency to see the frame through a lens of sexuality. I am pretty sure that is not what the work is about; still, there is an undeniable element of narcissism. And that complicates things further–making the question of the sexualized body inescapable for this image.

Interesting enough, this image passed across my dash maybe a week ago. Echoing Turtle’s pose it seems strangely less sexual than the above, at least to my eye. I am not sure why that is, but I think it’s probably not just me.

Source: The first instance of this image seems to have been posted by Chelsea Lee. Another image from the same shoot, suggests it’s Ms. Lee with her wrists bound to her ankles here.

Right off, the murky exposure in concert with the positioning of the five women standing around Ms. Lee’s prone body vignette the frame in a way more than a little reminiscent of the Polaroids hidden away in a burnt out abandoned house littered with pornography a showed me back in back in junior high.

It reminds me of this image, too.

I could reiterate points made previously; however, looking at this I am realizing something about my relationship with BDSM imagery: when such imagery is divorced–as this is–from perform the expected heteronormative gender roles (male=dominant; female=submissive), I am rather fond of it.

In my experience, there is a vitality to being completely at the mercy of another. Yes, I prefer such experiences sans restraints. Yet, there is something about rope as a symbol enabling something of trust and surrender to be brought to bear on exchanges that might otherwise remain ambiguous.

Igor Mukhin

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If it moves, Igor Mukhin likely shoots it; if it doesn’t, he’ll still take aim.

With nearly 5000 images—split between B&W film scans and Leica AG M9 captures, amassed over 6.5 years—perusing his photostream is like mainlining a hyper-distilled, chaotic mélange of interesting, occasionally ingenious work.

My head doesn’t wrap around such profligate excess easily—limitation is too central a feature in my own process. (Read: I am poor.) But I can let that slide. What I fail to fathom is how Mukhin’s haphazard, throw-it-at-the-wall-to-see-what-sticks curatorial approach works at all, let alone results in such jaw-dropping examples of all that photography should embody.

(To avoid unnecessary disappointment, skip his staid personal website.)

rawpix:

May21s†♥mirror/†he…mind(Daniel Schaefer)★

Roulé

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This interior—with its Spartan-with-Bohemian-pretenses—is reminiscent of my shitty, first-post college apartment in NYC.

What’s more startling is the resemblance of the young woman to the lover with whom I shared much of my time in that apartment. She, who in the pauses between our lovemaking, would crawl kneel o check the message on her phone she’d leave charging on the floor just like this.

The composition has an imprecise, snapshot immediacy which would almost certainly have appeared stale and uninspired were it not for the mirror’s reflection adding some much needed depth. Yet, what this image nails is presenting an ideal scale for everything the image contains.

Although she is kneeling, the frame is only slightly taller than she would be if she were standing. If she stood, the frame would have to move in order to contain her. In other words, she is the frame’s anchor—not vice versa; she agency in inhabit a space with implicit instead of merely appearing as an ancillary decoration.