Posted in Art, Dating, Faith, Gossip, Politics by TASTE & POWER on January 21, 2010

I was banned from facebook for posting this picture of myself around age 3 which i recently found in my family’s archives.  My father was at the time an active amateur photographer with a sense of humor as is made very clear by this image:  my posture clearly reflecting my shyness about my nudity, yet I evidently do not yet have the self-awareness required to stop playing with my penis for the camera.  When I posted this image on facebook, it did indeed occur to me that it might be an issue:  there is a long history of irrational censorship of images of nude children(see Jock Sturges, Ron Oliver, Sally Mann), in which all depictions of underage nudity are lumped together into the sleaze bucket, and the internet has been a war zone with respect to censorship and all kinds of imagery deemed too indecent for public consumption since it became an accessible means for sharing photos in the late 80s/early 90s.  It is impossible for me to ignore the site and moment at which this particular censoring has occurred, for I have recently been made aware of a “story” seeping into mainstream media outlets regarding the dissemination of risque, semi-nude, nude and occasionally lewd photographs of underage subjects on anonymous image boards on the internet.  It is true that this is somewhat a growing trend, but having grown up during the internet boom, I became aware of the practice in unspeakably seedy AOL chatrooms at an early age.  These photos are generally first distributed by the author/subject of the photograph via instant message, facebook, photobucket, a text message(sexting), email, and then shared and re-shared by the growing number of recipients, or in some cases directly to the audience at large, that is, to an anonymous image board, with countless numbers of drooling voyeurs “fapping” away to whatever underage indiscretion strikes at their dark soul.  I recently heard a discussion of the matter on NPR.  In a few cases, I gather, the initial posters, that is teenaged boys and girls who have photographed themselves nude and shared it with their friends, have been charged criminally.  A number of good points were touched on, which I wish to reflect upon here.  1) This is not a criminal matter! As of yet, there is no legal distinction between a teenager posting a nude picture of him or herself and a pedophile doing so. This is insane, for a number of obvious reasons. 2) Kids have been allowed, and even encouraged to engage in similar activities on social networking sites for years. It is the parameters of the medium of the text message, or private chat room that allows for them to make the next logical step of sharing nude self portraits. The language of myspace prepares them for it perfectly. and 3) the media’s obsession with this “phenomenon” and the hysteria it seems to inspire in parents and society at large speaks VOLUMES about our obsession with teen sexuality and our desires to insert ourselves into the drama, albeit under the guise of one motivated by protective and/or moralistic intentions. Before one classifies an image pornographic, one needs to look in the mirror and ask oneself why they might categorize it as such.  With that, I’d like to apologize to whichever facebook employee found my photo and banned me for it.  “Sorry if I gave you a boner.”

It Ain’t Easy

Posted in Art by thedumpsterbaby on April 27, 2008

Smoke Eaters, 1975, Jill Freedman

Great piece in the today’s New York Times Sunday Edition by a friend of T&P’s about the life and times of forgotten NY street photographer Jill Freeman. Yesterday the foothills behind my house caught on fire, and last night, on my way home from the grocery store, I passed group after group of “photographers” holding up their digital point-and-shoots (some on tripods) and camera phones and it made me think about how the ease of using these new technologies had democratized the medium, and how many more crappy photos are floating around the world as a result. This is not entirely terrible, but this article made me think about how many great photographers there must be from the lost age of the F-Stop which have eluded well-deserved recognition in recent times. So read.

From Amsterdam to New Amsterdam

Posted in Art, Gossip by devinkk on March 4, 2008

White Tiger (Kenny) by taryn simonThere is a question of why this matters. Next to it is a question of what you plan to do about it. And sealing in the triangle is the question of how we can become involved. This strong rhetorical construction is the building block for many documentaries that serve as fundraisers or elicit participation and intervention from the audience. Whether the works of art presented by Taryn Simon (collectively known as “An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar”) fit into this category or not is a bit complicated (someone’s funds are definitely being raised by it). There are some things that are simple however, one of them is the arresting aesthetic power of the images she has made, coupled with (more…)