ATRIUM CULTURALE

Thoughts and opinions about the art of photography.





THE POSSIBILITIES OF PORNOGRAPHIC IMAGERY


Within the greater context of the culture of sexual photography , the depiction of the naked body is the most fertile means of exciting desire and revealing detail , exploring roles and preferences , and indulging pathological tendencies.

The sexual act becomes a dramatic scene in which the actors play out the fulfillment of desire , a process which presupposes { self } conscious allusions to an audience unspecified in number. From this perspective it is easy to justify the theatricality of photographic sex. Although images are categorized into hard or soft pornography , differences in interpretation are slight because the viewers gaze instinctively wants to be directed to the image on display. The private actions made public in photographic sex are deliberately offensive, exposing anything potentially sacred about the erotic identity of the human body. This public exposure is also a theatrical spectacle , directed specifically for a particular audience whose fascination focuses on illustrated historical evidence. The set, the props , the costumes, and even the appearance of the protagonists escape the audienceís critical attention. Thus the photographer tends to use a shabby set , makeshift frame and lighting to indulge the audiences expectations . This is the point where the ultimate sexual act and its most vulgar portrayal collide.

Like any other image in which matter is (re)created by mechanical means, thereby introducing an external reality into the objectís own fractured reality, the ideological intelligibility of the pornographic image remains obscure. The viewer banishes the process of producing the image from his consciousness as he visually prepares to accept the natural vitality of his own body. The notions of evil and sin dissolve in the face of the irrepressible vitality of the scene. The paradoxical problem is that vitality is consumed as myth rather than reality.

Physical desire is visually appeased yet the body remains atrophied before these photographic displays of sexual activity. In turn, the viewer "transports" the physical possibilities of his body into the realm of the incredible, the fantastic, filtered through the visual evidence he sees and the mental fantasies he conjures up. Pornographic images simultaneously suggest boundless sexual possibility and impotence to perform the sexual act.

The issue open to debate is not so much the censorship of pornography as the need for fresh interpretations of pornographic material. Perhaps then visual stimulation could complement physical need rather than petrifying its vitality.

© 1997     Kostis Velonis      






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