Yann FaucherUntitled (2012)

Frustrating and illogical composition aside, there is so much to love here: suffused summer light bleeding from the window like a wound, suffusing the fringe of a beautiful body and clotting—white and diaphanous—on curtain gauze; eyes closed lightly, mouth open just a little; long arms dangle, finger tips tracing the textured braille of the bed sheets; above his right knee, and the forgotten change left on the sill that will stick for a moment when he stands again.

The content of the work is stunning, trading in sincere portraits of primarily nude male-bodied models. When [gender neutral pronoun] does make images of female-bodied individuals, the result is a sort of Fassbinder-ian waiting for those quiet moments wherein women are no longer divided into a me & the-me-the-world-sees and are finally alone with their thoughts.

It kills me to say it but all this potential is greatly diminished by Faucher’s thoughtless reliance on #skinnyframebullshit. I don’t know what it is more insufferable or sloppy.

There needs to be a reason, a compositional logic behind a vertical frame. I don’t know if in making portraits Faucher considers portrait orientation more fitting—though [insert gender neutral possessive] grasp of the technical seems more nuanced than that. It might also be an effort to comment on the way audiences view images (what with smartphones leading the #skinnyframebullshit charge). If that was the case, I could accept it. (I am not against vertical frames; I am against using them without any good reason.)

I admit that I haven’t looked closely at the rest of Faucher’s images; but the sense driving the framing seems to be the grievously mistaken notion that the frame should echo the length of the window. Only, due to the camera’s pan and the lenses wide angle of view, the visible portion of the window is closer to a square than a rectangle.

The window bay’s leftmost vertical angle does not align with the left frame edge. A small point, yes; nonetheless one that would have been de-emphasized with landscape orientation.

In this case the oddity of the angle indicates other glaring inconsistencies: the boy’s body is not balanced within the frame– the top of his left knee is lopped off by the right frame edge, his left foot hacked through the ankle and heel by the bottom frame edge. Then there’s the dead space directly above his head…

Don’t get me wrong the work is good; but it also has the potential to be so fucking much better. Unrealized potential pisses me off. (However, I suspect this says more about me than Faucher.)

When printing something one is given two options: portrait or landscape.

As best I can tell this is a vestige of painting: vertically oriented images were favored for portraits while horizontal frames lent themselves to the panorama of landscapes.

Although arguably more of an unconscious convention in painting, this logic has been actively internalized by photographers and virtually enshrined by digital image makers.

The trouble is two-fold: the logic of photography is not interchangeable with the rules and precepts of painting (no matter how the latter interpenetrates the former). When applied to each other, these conventions produce schizoid, contradictory compositions.

Photography—and by dint digital imaging which however misguided is based upon it—has internalized the landscape orientation.  Unlike painting, I do not think this internalization has been unconscious—after all, if you have ever looked at a strip of 35mm film on a light-table there is an easy-to-see bias towards horizontal framing. (I am so accustomed to this that when I encounter vertical compositions now, I tend to tilt my head sideways when looking at them.)

Portrait orientation is not without its uses in photography and digital imaging. Unfortunately, it more often than not contributes very little to the compositional ‘sense’ of an image; serving expedience by quickly fitting the subject to the frame—instead of forcing the image maker to contemplate the discontinuity between the subject/frame and subsequently address it in a more artful manner.

The above has almost certain been cropped. But I would wager its orientation was originally vertical. (The individual responsible for the image contacted me with assurances that the image was originally horizontal but was cropped to accentuate the vertical.) And although I think horizontal framing would have worked better (EDIT: Having seen a sample of the original image, it is better), I will admit that unlike the vast majority of portrait orientations, the image maker is clearly aware of the manner in which the shift affects how the image is seen.

The frame echoes the subject’s form. On its own, that is the worst of lazy justifications; however, in this case the poses, the simple line work of what I find to be one of the sexiest tattoos I have ever seen and the narrowed view work as a visual approximation of the feeling one gets from indulging in a much needed stretch.

Further, the portrait orientation allowed the photographer to be closer to the model, lending a sense of heightened intimacy while also preserving anonymity.

Finally, I would be remiss not to admit a large part of my reason for posting this is the model’s unnerving resemblance to someone upon whom I currently have a maddening crush.

captio:

Meanwhile, in my train-travel-wetdream…

Photo by Pavel Kiselev

Wasn’t it Blake who noted the naked body of a woman is more a measure of heaven than any man deserves?

The first thing I notice here is not the very attractive—and even more naked—girl looking over her left shoulder at the landscape beyond the window against which she is leaning. What I see is a photograph taken inside a train.

I love trains. I am not a ‘railien’ or ‘railfan’, not by a long stretch. But there is something about trains that makes me smile. You would think this would have lessened some after spending around six hundred hours a year for five years traveling via rail.

It hasn’t.

Admittedly there are good days and there are bad days but over time I have learned a simple fact: I am rarely as focused and alone with my own chaos in as when I like this lounging Aphrodite stare out as the passing landscape blurs.

Commuter trains do not offer opportunity for much repose. And being naked on a train is not really something I had considered; however, the prospect of lurching vibrations shivering every inch of skin does is incredibly appealing to me.

And oh Jesus fucking Harold and Maude Christ, to make love and then savor the scent of shared bodies while everything around you hums until you start to make love again.

There is a lesson here about sharing everything.

Even the loneliness of being together.

UPDATE: Another image likely from the same series.

UPDATE 2: And another

UPDATE 3: And another one, and another one