An appreciation of the lurker

As somebody who can be a little geeky, who appreciates the power of statistics, I’ve been looking at my Twitter analytics for my @allablur account:

It seems that my nakedness engages you! I say that in a jocular way, even if I have not added a smiley. But despite what I see in these results, believe it or not every time I post a nude self portrait, elements of self doubt kicks in.

  • Do people really want to see more of this naked 30 – 60 year old man?
  • When does the expression of vulnerabilty become exhibitionism?
  • When does the need for self-assurance become narcissism?

Now I am fully aware that some of my followers might actively seek out exhibitionism and narcissism but I know most certainly don’t and at the root of things that is not why these images are made or posted.

Despite the engagement with what I put online, relatively few comment. Yes, I’m very aware that I am neither young and female or a kitten.  I am also aware that in an entirely public space with subject matter that is not exactly appealing to populism there are many that might not want to raise one’s head above the parapet. And that’s fine, I often find myself being a lurker, not wanting to be too forward. That’s where these statistics here and on other sites come in to help make this exposition of my art worthwhile.

You can’t click through above, but the two images in the chart above are:

and

The shredding of the vanities (1988, modified 2010, 2016)

The three photos that make up this artwork were taken by me of me on film in 1988, my first images with the more controversial subject matter of the erect penis. In 2010 I printed them, immediately shredding the prints as a symbol of rejection. I then photographed the result on a red background and published it on flickr with a somewhat vulgar title “Shredding the stiffies (1988 reprocessed 2010)” together with a five paragraph account of what was behind the image. It’s still there and public but you’ll need to be a member to see it; it was in colour and only shredded once so a broad mind and a sympathetic character helps too.

Today in 2016 I decided that that image was not sufficiently defaced to make the point I wanted to make, so I shredded the image again, this time in a different direction. Again I photographed the result and converted to monochrome and that is what you see here.

Three photos of an erect penis put through a shredder.

Those three photos were my first images attempting to deal with the problematical subject matter of the erect penis and render it in some way artfully. An alternative take is that it was my first attempt to address my insecurities head on.

When I photographed the original images, I know my intention and the way the light was used absolutely meant that I was trying to do something artistic. The shreddings years later are symbolic of the fact that that those original images did not really work as art, but nevertheless there was art in there somewhere. As in 2010 there is a desire to publish the images because they were so important in my personal development.

If my photostream were one of the new crop of art movies for general audiences that feature real sex then these images would be the ones that the director included because they were of vital relevance to the plot, but which tabloid film critics would tear to shreds. At the time they were taken these images were helpful in making me realise that perhaps the playing field was not as stacked against me as much as I had imagined.

While it’s always difficult subject matter, I can now look at a penis as just another thing which can be photographed beautifully in its own right. Equally it can be an important part of an emotional portrait of an individual. The dividing line from crude porn is however seldom straightforward and some will never see it.

Those words about the original image “trying to do something artistic” are important and as I state on my home page, I believe “there is nothing offensive about any aspect of the human body, especially when presented in a way that makes an artistic statement or conveys its beauty“.

Because the originals were an important development in my photography, I still regard them as art. Creating them was an erotic experience with artistic intent. The end result that you see here is I think a development of that original flawed art and I believe carries a rather more profound artistic statement.

But maybe, perhaps, it was the performance of shredding the photos that was the real art?

Addressing “Why?”

It’s always tricky dealing with self portraiture, exaggerated when the subject is nude. If I put up an image of another person then, although I would like a deeper response, the reaction I most often imagine is a simple appreciation of the beauty of the individual, of the lighting, of the image.

But when it comes to the self portrait, in particular if the viewer is making the first encounter with the work of a new artist and the image is isolated without a context, am I thinking too deeply when I imagine that many people will ask ‘why’?

Addressing “Why?” was the title I gave this image when I captured it three years ago.

Male nude self portrait on bed

Those who follow me, you are evidently very accepting people, for whatever reason, you managed it, you got past the ‘why?’.

Now let’s get this straight. Very few people do ever ask me ‘why?’. But I imagine the question to be there, the elephant in the room.

For people who ask the question in a positive way, genuinely interested in what is going on, I am not going to give an answer here because it’s too complicated and I have to have something to blog about in the future! But you should be able to perceive some sort of answer from my ‘about’ page and having a quick look through my images.

For people who ask the question in a negative way, perhaps with incredulity or even disgust, I am going to give a  simplistic retort. ‘Why not?’. Whether it is me or the many other artists who produce nude self portraits, you see in front of you a naked person and you probably see it because you have been looking for nude art and have no issue with looking at naked persons. Why not simply give the artist kudos for being able to present this image to you without involving another in the exercise? It is after all the total creation of the artist; no other human being has been paid, instructed, manipulated or exploited in the creation of the work. 

Perhaps the most likely thought process producing the question ‘why?’ revolves around the perception of exhibitionist vanity or something similar. This is partially right – there is some exhibitionist vanity going on here, somewhere in the mix. But there is a little (or a lot) of that in almost every model exposing themselves in front of a photographer. It’s almost an essential qualification for being a good model. But there is hopefully a lot more.

In a corner, taking the dark path

Nude female - In a dark corner

“In a corner, taking the dark path” From a collaborative nude shoot with E, about 8 years ago. A nude improvised from the location, a dark loft with a small skylight.

Natansky at The White House

Nude portrait of Natansky

Natansky

The pool table at The White House. No, not that White House but at the well known naturist club in a workshop that I was facilitating.

Gallery of my collaborations with Natansky

Exploring a nude male portraiture collaboration in Brighton

Peter

Peter runs a naturist B&B in Brighton. We got together at his place to chat about the possibility of forthcoming collaborations in anticipation of the onset of warmer weather. Unusually for a first meeting I took my camera and we spend a half hour or so briefly touring his flat in his natural naked state and I took the opportunity to get him used to the idea of me pointing my camera at him.

 

 

male portrait

man lying naked on worktop male nude  portrait naked man mirror portrait naked man mirror portrait naked male floor portrait nude male backlit window portrait nude male backlit window portrait

nude self in mirror with naked male modelI chose to fit in with the local dress code. I guess Peter is accustomed to having other people trotting around his place naked but this was all rather new for me because I have not previously shot anyone while being myself nude. I really can’t say the experience affected the shoot at all unless it was a positive one because I have to express that, considering the available time, I am very happy with these images.

“Rite of Spring” – Evoking naked ritual?

A post from a shoot in March 2011 which had lost it’s connected image on flickr. I have spotted quite a few like this that will have to be fixed. Very irritating but a chance to promote forward a few images lost at the back of this blog.

This was the first of the images from my first collaboration with Ada Sancerre. For the record, it was 10 degrees C. and windspeed up to 35 kph and it had rained continuously overnight. Yes, the British spring had arrived.

2006

My first nude self portraits date from 1986. Move twenty years on and this is what was going on in my mind and with my body in 2006. It was a relatively quiet year 🙂 But the usual mix of styles, not all to be taken too seriously…

I am pulling together images grouping them by year. Follow the tag Year by Year to collate them all. This is the first set and they will go up in no particular order.

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