Does Showing a Man’s Penis Make An Image Pornographic?” It seems to be the question everyone who works in this field seems to ponder. I know I certainly as an artist explore and often cross that edge. The dictionary definition of pornography is: “printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity, intended to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings”. I think the operative word here is intended. Though I don’t really see many of my images as sexual and am not sexually motivated to create them, I became aware last night the impact they have on others. Who views the images and how they interpret them becomes subjective. We all have different interpretations of what we find stimulating or what excites us sexually. When I was younger just seeing a man’s skin exposed got me aroused and stimulated. And yes there was a time in my 30’s I was obsessed and possibly addicted to porn. But as I get older and I become desensitized by so much experience and exposure, I now rarely find things stimulating in that manner. Now it becomes more of an exploration of what it is I remember about that sort of stimulation. Some of my subjects are not prone to exposure and that line never gets crossed, some people are just so damn sexy with their clothes on, how they wear them, and the shapes and textures they create with their presence. Hence the power of fashion. Yet some people look exceptional fully exposed. Everyone is different and the exploration becomes unique for each of them. My role as a photographer is to expose not just their nakedness, but also aesthetic and emotionally. I perceive we live in a culture where we are getting away from our sense of sensual desire. The desire encompasses the entire being and not just parts of that being. My work for me becomes a compass that reminds me of that romantic idealism that has begun to erode from my life. It becomes about how I see myself in relationship to my subjects and sometimes that intention has been to erotically stimulate. So by the dictionary term my work is pornographic. But because I show a man’s penis does not mean the image was intended to stimulate. I have seen so much great male nude art in my life that I no longer zero my focus in on what dangles below, but absorb it for it’s aesthetic feeling. This is why I love art and am fascinated by my necessity for exposure. I got my first glimpse of a man’s penis in National Geographic magazine showing naked aborigines when I was a kid. I remember how sensational it was. I was possibly too young to be stimulated by it then but there was something forbidden about seeing something that needed to remain hidden. Here some 40 years later, I am still pondering its mystery.
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