How are we connected with the world around us? We interact both physically and emotionally with our environment every day and for this weeks assignment we have been tasked with representing this through image.
Initially cameras were first used to shoot nudes for artists to be able to paint from. Once photography had began to establish itself as a stand alone art form then photographers such as Brassai and Man Ray started to examine human body as a form of natural architecture. (f-hole n.d.)(Wyma 2012)
This led to a philosophical discussion around the difference between Nudes and being Naked. Nudes were considered structured and posed for artistic aesthetic whilst naked tends to be vulgar and unconsidered.
This concept was later challenged by Thomas Ruff in his series Nudes, He took a series of still images from pornographic films and using motion blurred sufficiently obscured and altered the images for them to become art.
In modern society we constantly look to contextualise ourselves within our environment. We will engage with media, to compare our lives and ourselves as we attempt to find a place in current society. Watching programs that present to us figures of the abnormal or bizarre allow us to compare our lives to those we are being shown
A heterosexual male dominated society has led to an imbalance between the female and male nudes with the former becoming a primary subject the moment the camera was invented. It was not until 2009 when we saw the the first exhibition featuring male nudes and this was then met with numerous objections and complaints.
I think that men feel uncomfortable looking and knowing that this side of their species is being exposed to the world, its almost as if another area of dominance is being undermined and the powerbase has been eroded further. John Coplans took this concept further when he embarked on a project to photograph himself as a series of nudes. As an elderly male this was a subject that had previously been considered taboo and had the ability to shock people. But causing complaints was not his goal; he felt that he had become anonymous in his advanced years. We are so conditioned through society and advertising to consider the young, athletic handsome male as the standard we should aspire and younger men, even if they have not reached such lofty expectations can be viewed as someone for who it is still possible but for the elderly male or once you pass a certain age then this changes. You are no longer moving towards the goal but away. At this point our presence and importance in society seems to diminish and we begin to fall away from the mainstream.
The weekly tasks from this module had given me the opportunity to experiment with different styles and concepts so I wanted to try something new again. I was also keen to explore the Naked vs Nude argument and test my own self confidence at the same time.
Our task this week to was to explore the way we shape our environment , through our interactions, presence and moods. I decided to change the challenge slightly and produce an image which demonstrated the way our environment shapes us. I also want to practice with some commercial style photography as it is something I have not done since coming to Coventry University.
I chose to create a campaign image with regard to irresponsible drinking habits. There had already been a number of campaigns around this subject as binge drinking had become a problem for UK society. According research by the world health organisation Britain was the 13th worse country for heavy drinking and 25th for overall alcohol consumption (Donnelly 2014). As a result there have been a number of government sponsored campaigns to raise awareness but I often felt that they were targeting the wrong aspect of drinking.
The above campaign focused on the state we get in when very drunk, my problem with this is that we all accept that our behaviour is greatly effected by alcohol and that we all end up embarrassing ourselves and although it is something we would like to avoid we know that we will be sober the next day and the events become a story to tell or even a badge of honour.
Other campaigns focus on the harmful effects of over indulgence and campaigners have often used health issues in their campaigns. It was anti smoking campaigns that we commonly see damage highlighted and it has had little impact in stopping people smoking. The main problem as I see is that people do not believe that it will happen to them. They view the health issues as the extreme result of constant abuse and dismiss short term dangers.
Because of this I aimed my campaign at body shape. This fitted in with my task of how our environment shapes us and also met my interest in exploring the nude concept. I have never seen a campaign that addresses our personal appearance which is something I felt would have impact. We are very self conscious and have no desire to leave our bodies misshapen and place our personal appearance outside of societal expectations.
The image is based upon a famous photo by Annie Leibowitz of Demi Moore taken for the cover of Vanity Fair in 1991.