Once again I have struggled to find a subject fitting for my next project. The previous module’s video piece was resolved so I need to create something new. Over Christmas I had hoped to work with some ‘models’ to help expand previous long-term projects, but these fell through. And the profiles I had created to hook any new potential participants merely brought in married men with kinks and fetishes that were hoping for some free photos for their online presence. After my initial frustrations wore off I realised that here was the potential for exploration…when life hands you lemons you make lemonade; so if I can only find these bi married men who lead a double life then perhaps I should explore their stories.
I recall an article on Natasha Caruana (Saner 2015) who created a project about straight men that used websites to look for extra-marital affairs. Exploring who these men were & why they felt the need to stray from the marital bed. By choosing to shoot with disposable camera’s the aesthetic becomes one of stolen moments and gritty seediness & seems to place the time-frame more in the 70’s or 80’s than the current technological age which enables such easy infidelity. The sordidness creates a shameful attitude which I would prefer to avoid in my project – I would rather not judge but be a little more understanding or at least neutral in my approach.
Exploring why married & bi men need to have an outlet for their feelings & experiences. How many identify as straight; how many as bi & how many think they are gay but ‘trapped’ in society’s norm.
What little peccadilloes do these men need to scratch an itch? How often & how far? What are they & why? How did they come about? What forms do they take & how do they go about satisfying them & where do they find that satisfaction from? Time was they used to meet at cruising spots but now we have apps & low-tech websites does this make it easier and more acceptable / widespread or has the opportunity always been sought ?
Online gives you the chance to create a different self-identity; so which is the truth – the suited businessman or the online persona with their fantasy to enjoy? They come to me to create some empowering images that they can use on ‘dating’ sites in the hope of meeting folk to scratch that itch. I must consider the ethics of the situation…of representation & of encouragement (am I encouraging them to ‘cheat’?). Do I take a ‘cruel’ (judgemental), ‘tender’ (understanding) or completely neutral approach?
Look for images that hint (and I mean hint…subtle is more intriguing than obvious signs). I recall years ago seeing a child’s buggy in the background of a graphic nude. Caruana uses the symbolism of flowers & food & wine to invoke the attempted romanticism of the meetings; a romanticism which is presumably missing from their married lives. She mentions that “pseudonyms were used, and every one, she says, had a secret phone.” (Saner 2015)
Looking at body language when searching for truthfulness
- They touch or cover their mouth
- They instinctively cover vulnerable body parts (throat, chest, head, or abdomen.)
- They tend to point a lot
- Touching the ear
- devoid of wedding rings.
- Suprasternal Notch. This is the indentation at the base of the neck, and it’s one of the most vulnerable parts of the body because any infiltration of it can interfere with normal breathing. When liars feel threatened, they sometimes cover their suprasternal notch to psychologically protect themselves
Saner, E (2015). Portrait of an adulterer The Guardian, [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/aug/25/photos-married-men-dating-websites-ashley-madison-natasha-caruana [Accessed 1st Jan. 2018]