Source unknown – Title unknown (192X)

I am posting this because I love the way the two bodies relate to one another against the black negative space. (Keeping with the theme of twos–you can see both subjects hands.)

One figure is curled, the other open… seemingly presented like either a cherub or some sort of water nymph. (Note: how the positions of all four hands work together similar to the two bodies against the black negative space. The cherubic nymph hands imply a triangle with any one of the other hands–but more so with what the other hands frame.)

If you glance at the notes for this you’ll note two things: that it was probably made by Jacques Biederer–a Czech photographer who moved to Paris and became increasingly interested in nudes, erotica and hardcore BDSM/fetish pornography. During Germany’s occupation of France, he was sent to Auschwitz where he died.

Interestingly, the notes also suggest that the curled figure is a man. And while my familiarity with Biederer is admittedly limited. I seem to recall that he had a thing for portraying women as dominant–that could suggest that the commenters are correct that the curled figure is male. However, didn’t Biederer also have a thing for depictions of sapphic desire? Perhaps the undergarments are masculine in cut or design but I’m not an expert on French fashion from the 1920s and to my reading the gender of the curled figure isn’t something that can be determined with any sort of definitive value given only this image–and that’s something that is intriguing to me.

Source unknown – Title unknown (201X)

I think this video may be the porn clip that I have watched the most in my entire life.

Technically, it’s flawed. But the technical doesn’t matter so much when the sex is so thoroughly and legitimately haute.

From their seemingly coordinated ink: his Judge me, her Justice; to the inversion of the porn trope where the starlet furious rubs her clit while a muscle-bound stud uses his erect cock more like a gas powered chisel than a tool meant (among other things) for providing sexual pleasure; and–my personal favorite, the way she licks his semen off his tummy and then gives him a sample of the mess he’s made.

Unffff. (Also, this clip gave me a thought for a performance piece I’d like to enact at some point. I think it could be positively scandalous…)

Richard PrinceUntitled from Censored Art series (2011)

Richard Prince is the reigning king of appropriation in the art world.

He’s made a career of stealing work from other artists without permission. This can take the form of rephotographing an image–Sam Abell’s cigarette ad vs Prince’s Untitled (Cowboy). And there was the recent kerfuffle where Prince took images created by others on Instagram, more or less as is, and sold them as his own work.

I’m not someone who dismisses what Prince does entirely out of hand. I mean consider the quote that’s frequently (and inconclusively–to the best of my knowledge) attributed to Oscar Wilde about talent borrowing and genius stealing–and you have to accept Prince’s work merely as proof of concept.

And although he’s definitely an entitled white, cishet asshole, there is some conceptual merit to his interrogations. With his appropriation of Abell’s photo, he introduces notions of authorship/ownership and the relationship between process and commodification in the advertising world vs. in the art world.

Similarly, his selling of Instagram images he did not make, can be interpreted as the art industry paying exorbitant sums for work that is unoriginal/stolen or worse. Also, it presents questions about who owns the copyright for work displayed on social media sites. (I’m sure everyone reading this has gotten those concerned messages about whether or not uploading work to Flickr or FB will result in losing one’s All Rights Reserved proviso.

The problem with the Instagram business was he primarily stole work from young women–which is very different than stealing corporate art from a tobacco company.  (For example: there’s continued disagreement on the appropriateness of rape jokes in comedy–and it’s pretty much agreed that the acceptability of the jokes depends on which way you’re punching–like if you’re making the victims of rape the punchline, that’s not cool, whereas making the perpetrators of rape the punchline is punching upward, and OK.)

Prince’s career in my experience is centered around looking for easier and easier targets.

That being said: I do like the work from the series of which the above is a part. Reason being that apparently the photos are images he made himself and then placed the stickers over them. (The appropriation becomes an organic part of the whole instead of the works raison d’etre.)

Conceptually, there’s a lot to unpack. The notion of paywalls–you don’t get to see this unless you pay us, the question: does the disconnect between the work and the intervention of the sticker upon the work enhance or muddle meaning. Also: does censoring something increase merely it’s interest or does it contribute otherwise unfounded creative merit? Questions about whether or not limited resources of consumers limit societal creativity–the notion that this is a photograph infringed upon by a sticker from a DVD from one of the definitive punk bands, i.e. do we consider connections we’re not explicitly told to consider by artists, critical types. It’s also interesting that the photos are all of the type that you would see in mainstream pornography (something which is made with a profit motive) and mementos of consumption–those stickers on CDs serve no purpose other than to facilitate commerce; thus, they serve no purpose. Further, does censoring the graphic parts of the image also make the images less useful as porn, and more appropriate as art.)

They all seem like profound questions, at first. Except they are all really rather staid. It’s kitschy but also clever.

I’m reminded of seeing Junot Diaz speak earlier this year. He was asked about cultural appropriation and made a stunning observation that essentially (this is a rough paraphrase) the line dividing cultural appropriation from cultural appreciation has to do with one’s degree of personal engagement with a particular culture.

It’s like that scene in Dead Poet’s Society where Robin Williams encourages his class to all walk in a slightly different way and one of the students stays leaning up against a wall. When confronted, the student points out that he’s exercising his right not to walk. And Robin Williams thanks him for proving the point of the exercise.

Richard Prince is that kid. Only his entire career has made his actions entirely predictable. At least Censored Art reflects upon the culture with which he is most ostensibly engaged.

Source unknown – Title unknown (201X)

Regardless of what you think of my notion of #skinnyframebullshit, there is never, under any circumstances, ever any justification for capturing video in portrait orientation. None. Period. End of story.

That I’m giving this a pass should signal just how amazing I find this clip in spite of the shitty execution and poor quality this is one of those rare moments when porn bothers to show not only how I like to fuck but how I like to be fucked (and in the same video, OMFG). But it also makes me feel seen and like my sexuality isn’t just something that’s impossibly inconvenient to 96% of the rest of the world.

Also, trying not to come, coming anyway and then being so at the mercy of your feelings and connection with the other person(s) that there’s no time for  a break or respite and you end up coming again quickly and with such force that you literally feel the strain from how hard you clenched up for days afterwards.

Swoon. (To whoever made this–thank you. Also, please keep making stuff like this. It matters.)

Diane ArbusCouple in Bed Under a Paper Lantern, NYC (1966)

I’ve maintained for years that reading something on a screen vs on a page effects how you process the information. (My recall for printed materials is generally better-than-average; via digital interface noticeably less astute.)

As far as Arbus goes, I’m not a fan. Yes: Child with Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park is one of the all-time best street photography portraits. (And one of the reasons it’s so brilliant is because it was made as things started to escalate in Vietnam–intuitively connecting wars overseas with their psychic impact closer to home.)

I never knew what I didn’t like about her work–and here it’ll become clear why I started with memories formed reading something off a page vs on a screen–I remember reading something on the Internet, a criticism of Arbus that associated her well-known quote: I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn’t photograph them.” with her interest in social outliers and the stigmatized.

I look at so many of her pictures and there is this circus side show feeling to them–an I’m going to show you what you don’t want to see. That’s maybe okay: spectacle sells, after all. (But also: maybe don’t rely on solely that?)

Her images always leave me with this feeling that she was far more interested in what made someone a freak than how such social castigation impacted a person’s humanity.

So while I’ve seen this image a dozen or so times before it wasn’t until I saw it in the context of Tumblr porn reblogs that I realized what it depicts–a couple making out while a vigorous handjob is administered.

There’s something more disarmingly honest about it for it’s focus on the familiar–Arbus being ostensibly white (Jewish), cisgendered and heterosexual.

Further–and again, now that I need it I can’t find it–there is a similar post-coital image of Sally Mann with her husband Larry that actually is almost certainly influenced by this Arbus’ image.

ChunaeTitle unknown (2017)

There are hundreds of reasons I LOVE these two illustrations.

The first image recalls Tammy Rae Carland’s Lesbian Beds series. So that’s automatically #AllTheFeels territory.

But the attention to detail is just so beyond on fleek in these.

Let’s just start with the first image. Note: the pictures on the walls. Two of the two women as a couple. The no smoking sign. The succulent on the window sill. The slippers toe-to-toe. The discarded socks. The position of the cat. The iPhone on the night table.

Everything is so perfectly balanced between an idealized, stylish living space that is just lived in enough to not appear staged.

The second image is less economical but offers two additional bits of information. These women are married–that’s them in their wedding gowns on the wall. Also, the brunette is supportive of the blond’s creative streak. (Also note how the light from the window casts their shadows against the far wall.)

Sequentially, I’d wager that the second image came first but I prefer it the way I have it here because for me I feel like you have the have the intimacy suggested by the first image for the sharing of space and time to be as meaningful as it appears in the second image.

Also, to use the vernacular: this is #goals for me. Maybe one day I won’t be so irrevocably alone. (Probably not though.)

Source unknown – Title unknown (201X)

There’s this notion in acoustics called the Precedence effect.

Given two identical sounds in rapid succession, the two distinct sounds fuse into what is perceived as a single tone.

Interestingly, as long as both sounds can be heard before there is any echo, the sound will always be heard as if it is emerging from the first source, even if the second source is positioned on a drastically different axis.

I think there’s something similar with the notion of pornography. If an initial reaction to something is instinctively a knee-jerk, clutch the pearls OMFG, that’s pornographic, then I think the tendency is to lump whatever follows into the same category. Like that’s not something I think about that’s something I don’t care to see or want to jack/jill to.

Unlike acoustics, however, the porn precedence effect isn’t a result of biology, it’s a product of acculturation. I’ve always found it more interesting to ask questions like

What about this do I find arousing? What do I find off-putting? Why?

This leads to the questions what is done well? vs. what could be done better?

I think this is interesting because my first thought is not that this is pornographic. And it’s interesting that not seeing it immediately as porn widens the scope of my reactions to it.

I think about things like mutual desire, consent. How’s she’s presented completely in the frame–bearing in mind that this has almost certainly been cropped from a horizontally rectangular orientation.

(It’s also a bit sloppy. His arm is blocking her light but that mistake somehow contributes a great sense of personal agency and given her position and movement within the frame–which is compellingly dynamic–there’s no way this could’ve been shot from a different angle so as to not interfere with the light.)

This conveys a feeling of tenderness in intimacy for me which I think is as rare as it is adorbs.