Source unknown – Title Unknown (2010)

For the record: this ISN’T #skinnyframebullshit.

Which is not to say I entirely understand or agree with the orientation, but there is a persistent logic to it–the verticals are level with the left and right frame edge and the way the horizontal seams stand in relationship to the horizontals recalls Piet Mondrian.

To understand, why the vertical composition isn’t as problematic here, it’s necessary to examine the complications presented by a horizontal frame. There’s only two ways it can go: either you increase the amount of the kitchen around the subject or you place the camera closer to her.

Both these options diminish compelling facets of the original. In the first case, a wider shot of the kitchen increases negative space while decreasing immediacy/intimacy; in the second, you’d lose a good bit of the way the upper cabinet’s glossy finish blurrily reflects the rest of the room the viewer cannot at present see–suggesting a holistic and somewhat immersive totality of space.

Thus, whether I completely agree with the orientation or not, there is a clear, legible logic guiding it.

Yet, that’s not even what I like most about this image. What gets me is the way that it manages to stipulate it’s own context. Namely, if you’ve spent any time on Tumblr you know that disgusting creeps who bully, belittle or attempt to shame folks who post nudes–as if naked bodies are always inherently sexual.

I 120% support people who want to post nudes and not get shit for it. At the same time, I do often wonder to what extent failure to address such work from the vantage of its position in a particular traditions, be that nudes or fine art nudes… I do feel that there is a pervasive thread of believing that the master’s tools will eventually dismantle the master’s house.

In other words, we all just need to do better. To insist our work isn’t about sex or sexuality when it includes nudity and that’s it. Unfortunately, that ignores a shit tonne of subtlety and nuance. It can be both or neither or something else entirely.

What I like about this is it feels like a self-portrait. A sort of this is who I am when I’m authentically me–I get up in the morning and sit my bare ass on the counter while I drink my coffee.

The image conveys a real sense of comfort in one’s own skin. Simultaneously, there’s an awareness of the relationship between the subject and the camera. A sort of hey, this is how I roll and I want to document that but at the same time someone else isn’t necessarily going to see it the same way I do.

The way her eyes are closed and the way her left hand is positioned completely frustrated any sexualization of the image. And the brilliant thing about the work is it makes it seem incidental. There’s no sense that I’m covering myself because I’m ashamed, it’s more an: oh, this way I’m sitting which is super comfortable to me might be more than you want to see of me, so I’m going to address that in a way that doesn’t diminish how comfortable I am rn.

PS Super bonus points to you if you noticed the Fairy dish soap. It’s apparently a brand distributed in the UK, in case you care.

Sanders McNewFinancial Services, Minnesota (2009)

If you wish to shoot deliberately, to front only the essential facts of image making, and see if you can learn what it has to teach then go out into the landscape, I say. Take your square format, studio portraits and milky white backgrounds and shove them up your ass.

Except… well, sometimes I’m wrong and it’s a rare image that can not only make me admit I’m wrong but that makes me completely rethink my objections.

The focus here is on Brooke Lynne–she’s either trying on a new pair of glasses or nervously adjusting the pair she’s worn for months. There’s something both hyper posed and yet off-balance to it.

A milky white background typical decontextualizes the model emphasizing physicality. But although the backdrop certainly accentuates the shape of her body, the lighting and the simultaneous stylization and awkwardness of her posture emphasize shift attention to her gesture.

In most portraiture work in this style, I always feel as if the decontextualization is an effort to isolate the model; an invitation to objectify her.

This feels quite the opposite. LEss that there is no background than any background complicates matters unnecessarily.

In fact, browsing McNew’s Flickr leaves my head spinning at just how diverse a body of work given reasonably limited operating parameters.

hassnaamohamed:

Extraordinary people are, ordinary people by Hassnaa

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Hossnaa Mohamed’s illustrations are not unlike look books from those trendy nationwide chains flinging promises of faux indie cred with their shitty threads.

Were this just another hit-and-run denunciation, it would perpetuate the same sort of hollow vapidity it means to critique.

There’s something altogether more heartfelt here, however: the so-cool-it-bleeds haute couture façade of sleek, clean lines remain but are instead imbued with self-conscious anxiety—the cool is beset by the awkwardness.

It’s staggeringly familiar: wanting to be wanted, one reach for some vaunted ideal of cool touted; while what precisely what makes one cool is the same thing insisting one isn’t.

Pointing out problems is one thing. Pursing the inversion of the present order is another. Neither effort accomplishes much of anything. To truly subvert requires the fundamental alteration of the conversation.

Ms. Mohamed’s work is not only subversive as fuck—it’s sexy as hell.

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.

On the list of things I’m not into hentai ranks just below the term alpha male used in any non-zoological context and slightly above asparagus—seriously those mini-pine tree-looking shits embody the worst aspects of celery and olives.

Although it’s part of a tendency toward exploiting gender bending for extreme and kink potential, this image gets me very hot and bothered.

The style of hair, clothing, shoes, breast and body language all suggest a teenaged female bodied individual. Yet, this teenage girl is stroking an erect penis protruding from between her legs. She has already come everywhere but still propulsive semen spews out of her.

As I do not even pretend to read Japanese, the context of the scene is lost on me. However, I think its functions better that way—at least for me. I imagine this girl is hearing her older brother fucking his girlfriend and the thought of what the bodies meeting is too much for her to take so she squats, hikes up her nightgown and begins to masturbate.

And while certainly such transgressive impetus appeals to me, also there is the pleasure she clearly derives from her behavior—which seems much more than simple auditory voyeurism.

I can’t help thinking she is not fantasizing about the act of sexual intercourse or having sex with the participants she is overhearing en flagrante delicto. No, it seems as if she is imagining someone claiming her body with such reckless abandon.

The above reminds me of a pinup photo. Or, more accurately perhaps: anti-pinup.

It replaces the manufactured glamor of Betty Grable with the (preferable to me) alt-punk body/sex positive grunge mien of Camille (Cam) Damage.

With all my bitching about how so many photographers cut up women’s bodies with slipshod framing, you would think I would be goddamn all over the pinup. (Can you recall one that doesn’t include the entire body? I can’t.)

But there are two things I find troubling about the pinup tradition. The first doesn’t apply but it lends weight to the second: in a pinup the model’s acknowledges the spectator’s gaze.

Miss Damage, while clearly aware of the camera on her, ignores it.

However, taking an existing form—in this case the pinup—and replacing its various components with their appositives does not a new form make; In other words: you can include all the thin, alluring, pierced beauties with a progressive take on body hair—and please do not misunderstand me, Miss Damage is so hot you have to spell it haute—but the result will invariably mimic the original form.

Inversion is like that, never quite managing to be subversive.

What bothers me is the inherent problem of pinups (as well as anti-pinups); whether intended or not, they serve as a metonymy wherein the whole of an individual’s sexuality is represented by a part, which is most often their sexualized body.

As much as I hate on pornography—it rarely struggles with this problem. Depicting the sex act is fundamentally narrative; it has a beginning, middle and end; demands choices with regard to the inclusion or exclusion of a mass of details.

As Nabokov noted: God is in the details.