Reflections Mod2 Week7

A massive Bullet-Point list to begin structuring my Critical Review of Practice

  • ‘Take’ photos – form of collecting/possession over the subject, the phallic symbolism of camera and lens; yet there is still an intimate performative collaboration in what I do – I hope I give back as much as I take (a little boost to self-esteem by being chosen as worthy of photographing & being involved with my art)
    • To photograph people is to violate them, by seeing them as they never see themselves, by having knowledge of them they can never have; it turns people into objects that can be symbolically possessed. (Susan Sontag; On Photography. Harpenden: Penguin. 1979, p.14)
  • Ethics and morals (of looking / of capturing / integrity is everything)
  • Photography’s capacity to teach us how we should look – set us up with false idols to worship and emulate
  • Is my work insular? Just created for my own benefit, or does it have a wider message? topics outside of photography?
  • Nude in front of a stranger and all over the internet, but cannot show the same face to the world – analogy of coming to terms with sexuality
  • Photograph is simultaneously window & mirror
  • Marvin Heiferman … “inattentional blindness” (2012,p19) drawn to images and readings that conform to our view of the world
  • Das Unheimliche
  • Oscar Wilde said “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask and he will tell you the truth”.
  • Aydian Dowling is quoted as saying “The feeling of having to hide, or cover up yourself, can be very traumatizing to one’s feeling of self worth.”
  • excluded from heteronormative culture and traditions
  • “Men are increasingly subject to many of the codes of appearance management that were once considered to be exclusively female.” (Practices of Looking p.83)
  • Scopophylia
  • Exhibitionism
  • Voyeurism (Is there a form of voyeurism where the seer can be seen in a way that contradicts Roswell Angier’s description of the voyeur?)
  • Fetishisation
  • How meaning can change or be enhanced by montage relationship as diptych/triptych or grid
  • Subversion of Polaroid medium (family/party/celebration); unique mix-media object (fetish?); model can see control and feel reassured in their anonymity. Authenticity of the unique image
  • negotiated contract between the photographer and model and the trust relationship
  • Avoid clichéd visual metaphors; look for the obscure, myths & old wives tales
  • “Photograph as a melancholic trace of something past” (Letinsky in Farstad, 2012) – not melancholy but tender (hopefully)
  • timelessness ? Ethereal ?
  • ” how light is used to obscure and reveal.”
  • Emotional personal project – sensitive & understanding (is this project more about my friends than the queer community as a whole? If personal is political then surely this little circle can speak for the whole?)
  • “Photography…beautifies” (Sontag on photography p.83) (photography beautifies and bestows importance upon whatever is captured.)
  • view our identity through our physical form (Use the body to explore questions of identity); how our sexual identity is intertwined with our physical sexuality and what this does to our sense of self and self-worth
  • masking / depersonalised / objectified
  • expose what is private while covering what is public
  • Photography changes the thing being photographed (Barthes putting on a character for the camera; Lucien Freud watching subject till they’re bored and no-longer self-conscious in order to get a truer portrait)
  • “the poetic quality of an image transgresses the indexical truthfulness of a representation” Jeff Wall in (
  • looking for a more subtle visual truth to capture rather than the staged visual statements that have built up my portfolio so far
  • ambiguity to hook the eye and intrigue the mind (or is it better to be prescriptive?)
  • Normalise; de-exoticise ; shockingly banal (inclusion vs exclusion; complicit within the group) I bear witness (politics of representing the other)
  • Velvet subversion
  • David Hockney, Andy Warhol, Robert Mapplethorpe, Richard Hamilton, Dietmar Busse & Lucas Samaras – their use of Polaroid
  • dichotomy of shame vs pride
  • deface the Polaroid to take back control of their representation (emoji sticker – statistically more likely to suffer from mental health issues if you identify as queer)
  • difference between the naked and the nude (see notes on “The naked portrait”)
  • Queer Gaze? Merely the objectification of the active man much as the male gaze objectifies the passive woman? We are assumed to be part of the patriarchal problem yet can hide within it’s petticoats should it suit us. Does this give us a fractured confused gaze upon the world or a clearer view of balance?
  • Homosexuality still taboo?
  • ‘The Other’ creates a power imbalance
  • Jenny Saville ‘People’s bodies have become a commodity “ – our worth through the physical appearance
  • Joel Peter Witkin “we honour empty beauty…the quick aesthetic fix of the body in flesh”
  • Politics of the Penis
  • Instagram to present an idealized version of the self (an up-to-date version of the idealized Carte De Visite maybe?)
  • mirror world.
  • Postmodern ideas of ‘decentred’, ‘fluid’, ‘non-linear’, and ‘opaque
  • Discretion – model in position of power; my reputation on the line
  • Empowering; combat vulnerability; pride
  • Visibility does not equate to acceptance
  • Gay Semiotics; queer history; queer culture
  • The nude patriarch does not sit comfortably
  • Joerg Colberg – “What’s at stake here? Does the artist risk something with this work?”
  • Dorota Sadovska Corporalities (malleable skin of breasts – could you do the same with the penis?)
  • “Übermensch” – hyper-man; hyper-masculinity
  • Re-code, rewrite, hijack, trespass & poach heterosexual semiotics (in a different light)
  • without our clothing we are powerless (image of the body p.10)
  • Greek statuary – cult of youth
  • “No nude, however abstract, should fail to arouse in the spectator some vestige of erotic feeling” – “If it does not do so, it is bad art and also morals” Kenneth Clarke (image of the body p.27)
  • Still under the classical influence of the Cult Of Beauty today (image of the body p.35)
  • Studio my safe space where subject can relax & explore
  • Come out of my safe space and enter theirs to challenge myself & learn new skills with available light as opposed to studio flash (which I already am adept at)
  • “By removing the overt sexual explicitness of an image, where you’re left to sort of contemplate and look at somebody as an actual person”– juxtaposition of objectification. (Pacifico Silano)
  • Brainstorm metaphors, symbols, gestures. light in order to find the voice (Cig Harvey)
  • Cameras allow us into other people’s lives & mirror our own lives
  • “Certainly “The Mask” is a very familiar and intimate concept for any Queer boy or man negotiating the terrain of the heteronormative, homophobic  world into which we are thrust. This use of “The Mask” as a tool to pass as normative, in a world that threatens us with social disapproval and even physical violence, becomes a mechanism for survival. Yet this seemingly repressive act of hiding of the self, also contains the germs of great creativity – after all building this mask for one who finds himself outside the tropes of standard masculinity and heterosexual desire requires a significant amount of creative performance.

For many of us Queer boys, as we mature and grow in self confidence and step out of the closet, these skills we have developed in initially masking ourselves now serve as incredible impetus and tools to construct new performances via our selves and our art. ” – John Waiblinger

  • Florian Hetz – sensuality of the male body…skin, hair, veins, muscle all the signifiers of masculinity
  • Adam Moco – empowering naked portraits of ‘Real’ men
  • Hayley Austin – gentle intimacy
  • Jean Mailloux – use this mirror reflection as a weapon against body dysmorphia
  • awkward un-natural poses highlight the absurdity of these idols we worship
  • naked is natural, whereas nude is being placed on display (with the expectation therefore of being objectified) (Berger, Ways Of Seeing, p.54)
  • discomfort at viewing the penis mirror the discomfort gay men experience in many social situations
  • disquieting balance here between the erotic and the absurd?
  • any aesthetic and technical choices must be justified and add to the message rather than detract as gimmicks
  • Gary Schneider bodyscapes – curves and textures abstract body forms. Camera represents the sensual touch that my fingers are barred from experiencing.
  • Portrait from possessions; Painfully poignant domestic portraits that canonise the mundane with dignity and honour;diary of other things; objects as traces
  • Rinko Kawauchiserene beauty, spirituality exquisite delicacy in everyday life. Her
    “If it doesn’t move my heart, it won’t move anyone else’s heart.”
  • The fear we have for what confronts us in the mirror where we fixate upon our flaws (the idealised self, the voyeur, shyness); Jaques Lacan Mirror Stage (loss of the idealized self?)
  • Release 1.1.0 – mirror and gaze
  • Queer Identity or male in general? Gay Male Condition;general feeling or emotional response
  • Excluded by heteronormative traditions so we subvert our own.
  • Queer sex is self-sufficient – straight sex is functional “points up the constructed, regulated nature of straight sex” Blake (In a Different Light p.31)
  • Jeff Wall “take away the verbal description…you get into the pure picture then you have to relate to it like a poem”. Jeff Wall Pictures Like Poems [online] available at (accessed 7th March 2017)
  • use visual poetry to combat our reputation (as gay men) of being dirty little perverts
  • We are vilified for who we love,
  • Alfred Stieglitz describes a portrait as “…not just one picture…would be a photographic diary” built up of a body of images rather than one single moment. Alfred Stieglitz [online] available at (accessed 7th March 2017)
  • “little things that reassure; that reflect you.” (Marc Almond) Almond, M. and Ball, D. (1983) Barriers. London: Some Bizarre.
  • The naked portrait is a means of payment for the model’s time and patience for being involved with my project. It is also a way to fight against the unrealistic body-image the media seems to think we should subscribe to. I respect the work of Adam Moco & Jean Mailloux who’s intimate domestic portraits of ‘Real’ men are beautiful reactions to the modern worship of youth or Adonis.
  • melancholy which aptly reflects my personality
  • reflect some degree of intimacy of the collaboration between myself and model
  • We are both objectifier & objectified
  • Laura Letinsky; Hayley Austin; George Downing

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