My initial inspiration for this series came from Cindy Sherman’s series Fairy Tales and Disasters. It got me thinking about censorship in art, and from there my idea developed into what societies ideas around censorship are and the ways censorship is used for a variety of purposes. This subject spurred me on to continue researching and ultimately lead my to finding the final idea for my art.
I used Photoshop to manipulate sexual photos into looking like they’ve been censored - albeit, in a way that leaves the human form intact (replacing the face, if you will). To prevent using them for their prime purpose: generators of pleasure. Another theme that I felt is concurrent with censorship in some ways is our obsession with perfection (especially the use of computer edited human forms in advertising and the media) Replacing the censorship with artistic methods turned the photos into something else: Art. The imitation of life. Which is ultimately censorship’s purpose: to imitate the perfection of life by preventing things that aren’t perfect. The only problem is that we live in an imperfect world, making these imperfect things -the things censorship is trying to cover up- the only truths of life. We should stop fighting these truthful forces of life with censorship, and embrace them, by replacing the face.
Cool. So, according to my subject outlines it has come time for me to finish off this assignment: report my findings, conclude my studio proposal, and post my final pictures. I’m feeling good about this one, which is a bit out of the ordinary.
I came into this piece with Cindy Sherman’s work in mind. Her Fairy Tales and Disasters series provided me with a lot of food for thought, and brought censorship of art to my attention. I thought that I would look heavily into her art practices and the reasoning behind the disturbing sexual images she’d made, but, as with all projects, my direction changed after discovering censorship, and I felt it was worth investigating further. I made this decision to veer away from Cindy’s work in some way, as I felt I should look for my own roots instead of just revisiting hers. Cindy was the reason I started this project though, so her work holds a great deal of significance in terms of my final work.
Reading about censorship and the understanding behind fired me up in a way I didn’t know possible. At first it made me very angry. Everything I read I saw as some kind of way to suffocate people’s voices and ideas. It was something to be used against us. A way to control us. However, as I progressed through articles –looking more specifically at cases of censorship involving art- so did my thinking, and I came to realise that censorship is a bad thing, with some good intentions, that seems to get misinterpreted by people who just haven’t thought about it too much.
Censoring maps is wrong. I’m still angry with that. I’m still angry that governments and organisations use censorship to prevent the use and (what should be) the human right of free speech. That’s not what censorship is for. It should not be a negative tool. It should not be used to prevent, dull, dumb-down, destroy, silence. It should be a tool of freedom. Enabling people at risk to live their lives in peace. To protect innocent people from danger. And yet, that seems to be one of the least things it’s used for. I think they’ve just got wrong idea of what ‘innocent’ and ‘danger’ are. A crucifix in a bottle of piss is not dangerous.
I knew I wanted this project to have some kind of ‘sexual’ value. Sex is one of the most censored things these days. If you’re not skinny enough or pretty enough, you aren’t good enough. According to the media and general socially constructed views. We change the way people look so that they can appear in magazines, often selling products. So that we the people have something to aspire to. I disagree with that and decided to mock that idea a bit. The pictures I’ve created have been altered in such a way that the person no longer looks like themselves anymore. It looks pretty cool (I think) and demonstrates my idea of changing the external self for censorship purposes – a theme I believe to be concurrent with Cindy Sherman’s work (though, admittedly on another level).
The figures are still human, but at the same time not quite the same. These pictures probably wont cause any disturbance, unlike those in the Fairy Tales and Disasters series, but that wasn’t what I was aiming for in the end. I wanted to create my own form of censorship, replacing the face. Taking away majority of the sexual explication (especially in porn or fetish material) voids the meaning. I feel like if we’re going to take that away from an idea, the meaning, then we should at least replace what has been taken with something that speaks truth. In this case the censorship of human beauty, due to society’s disapproval (however they do it in a very cunning way, making the photos look damn good so we wont complain – I’ve *tried* to do that too). Society created this problem, in order to supply the remedy to it. Society created the need for perfection, and thus the need for censorship. Society created porn, and then condemned it for its own benefit.
I’m pleased with what I’ve created. It’s essentially what I had in mind from the beginning, though my ideas behind have shifted slightly. I wanted to try out some new things in Photoshop to help get more comfortable, and I did. I tried some tutorials out and ended up having a good play with what I had discovered whilst completing my last assignment: curves. These pictures might not be to your taste, you may think I’ve missed the mark entirely, and that’s totally fine. In fact, it’s probably a good thing to see that other people have different ideas and that’s just a normal thing. Having said that I’d like people to remember these are just my ideas, they’re mine, not yours, and I’m not trying to say that everyone thinks about things the way I do. It’s ok to be wrong. I am every day.
This is the last little bit of food for thought I’m going to leave here for now. The art/porn debate has been raging for some time now, and occasionally something comes along to add just a bit more coal to the fire. People will always be mad at other people who just look “better” then they do.
“TOPLESS PHOTO OF TEEN KATE MOSS AT ART GALLERY OF NSW REIGNITES ART/PORN DEBATE February 09, 2013
A topless photo of a fifteen-year-old dormant supermodel, Kate Moss, which is being exhibited as of today at The Art Gallery of New South Wales, reportedly has the potential to reignite “community concerns” fuelling the immutable debate surrounding the art/porn binary. That is, at least according to a report in today’s Sydney Morning Herald that raises the question, ‘Is it art?’ [It being a photograph taken by an artist exhibited in an art gallery.]