The Body; Forms Functions and Interactions: Initial Research

The body; forms functions and interactions discusses how we interact with our space. Interactions can be personal, unnoticed or lost. We interact with objects in our own personal spaces in many different ways. Photographers have captured these interactions throughout the history of photography, and document how our body shapes these spaces, or how these spaces shape our bodies.

When we discuss the body as art, we think about the nude paintings portrayed throughout time, particularly in the renaissance. This has influenced the acceptance of such stark imagery and influenced the freedom to sexualise in the media. Woman in particular are sexualised in the media freely, and feminists argue why men don’t get this sort of attention. An article in the daily mail (–men.html) talks about the sexualisation of woman in Rolling Stone magazine and how on the whole, there are significantly more woman sexualised than men, and these images promote feeling of dissatisfaction with the readers appearance.

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We have to consider that men have also been portrayed bare in popular mediums also. David by Michelangelo, the Vitruvian Man by Leonardo Di Vinci and the Kouros, an arcane ancient Greek representation of the ideal male body. But in these representations, the male is of power and control and the woman less so.

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In Christina Blackwood’s project ‘Naked Lady’, she tackles this power relationship in photography. The man photographs the woman as a nude, and rarely the other way around.
“Tina Modotta, Georgia O’Keeffe, Rebecca Strand and Lee Miller — all famous artists and photographers in their own right — are depicted as nudes by their respective male partners and colleagues, Edward Weston, Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand and Man Ray. Why haven’t these icons of photography — Weston, Stieglitz, Strand and Man Ray — been depicted in the same manner? Why is the nude almost exclusively female?”

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Her study examines the ubiquitous use of the female nude in art and represents this power relationship within the frames of old landscape photographs, representing the red dot as female presence in the image. We pay attention to the dot and distract us from the male influence of the image.

John Coplands also questions the use of the female nude in photography. He gets an assistant to photograph him with a large format camera, entirely nude. We don’t see his face, we just concentrate on the form of his ageing body. Many see it as a breathe of fresh air to the conversation, and consider his work to bravely represent the male nude in stark detail.

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Like Coplands, Anastasia Pottinger tackles a similar issue but with female representation. She shows her beauty can be found in the aged female body, which uses similar devices as Coplands work, but doesn’t challenge the gender stereotype of the nude.

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Laura Pannack photographs nudists, to put them more at ease, and to make them respect her, she took the photographs while she was nude herself. Class is stripped when clothes are removed, we become the same and it makes people open. The photography of Pannack is not the stereotypical nude portrayal, she chooses both men and women to photograph regardless of their bodies. The freedom expressed for the project is interesting. In the situation of a camera looking into their community, you would think there would be an awkwardness to the photographs, instead they look comfortable and free, there aren’t as many judgements that the viewer makes because we know little about these people.

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Kate Hutchinson’s project documents her partners relationship with her and the space that surrounds his engagement to Kate in her project ‘Why am I marrying him’. But in another series, ‘model husband’, she explores the art relationship with nudes by photographing her husband in similar ways to popular nude representations from the history of photography, like Man Rey, Edward Weston and Nikolas Nikon. But instead of using woman, she uses her husband instead. Which challenges the portrayal of nudes in art.

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I am interested in the conversation about the nude portrayal, and how we interact with our spaces differently when we are bare. But the curatorial aspect of the history of the nude could be an interesting project.

I think it would be an interesting project to think about how I interact with my space, and think about my room and my appearance, and how that influences my identity. I am influenced by Tina Hillier’s series ‘a journey around my room’, discovering parts of her room and focusing on their detail, to find beauty in the unexpected.

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I also like Spencer Murphy’s narrative in his project ‘the abyss gazes into you’. A narrative that enters people lives and leaves them unstable and worried about the future. Using different settings, and photographic genres to analyse our doubts. This narrative is something I would like to incorporate.

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