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Within one-tenth of a second, people form a variety of opinions about each other based on what they see, and these opinions are not necessarily favorable to us.

Yesterday, while browsing my Google+ feed, I came across a link to my post “Is it a good idea to share your nude photographs, if you are a nudist?”  kindly reblogged and shared on Google+ by Paul K., author of the wonderful blog about nudism Zjuzdme.org. Someone on Google+ left a comment under my photo saying, let me quote, “so small dick u have”. First of all, I felt like I let down Paul, because it was unclear to whom the comment was addressed. Secondly, I thought that it was not a good idea to share my nude photograph taken on a chilly day.

With a feeling of a little disappointment, I turned to the history of visual art.

When it comes to art, there are two popular questions: “Why does Michelangelo’s Adam have such a ridiculously small penis” and why does “the most famous of Greek statues, Michelangelo’s David”, depict “big muscles, but a tiny penis”?

Michelangelo Buonarroti - Wikimedia Commons

Michelangelo Buonarroti – Wikimedia Commons

Michelangelo learned the philosophy and art of ancient Greece and admired the Greeks’ attempt to capture ideal beauty in their statues. According to Larissa Bonfantethere were “two concurrent strains of nudity in Greek art: one reflecting a magical or apotropaic function (herms, satyrs, etc.), characterized by the erect phallus; another, developing from athletic nudity, a more empirical interest in the naked, athletic male body (kouroi, athletes and male figures in black- and red-figure vase painting), where the sex organs themselves are less obtrusive”.

Statue of kouros - Wikimedia Commons

Statue of kouros – Wikimedia Commons

“Satyrs, animal-like human figures with horses’ tails, were represented full of vitality, naked, with exaggerated huge phalli (or phalluses)”. Actors who represented satyrs in the theater in the 5th century B.C. “wore animal-skin loincloths with a large phallus sewn on”. The herms the Athenians encountered daily in the streets of their city, from ca. 540 B.C. on, “consisted of a male head sculptured on a pillar, on which was carved an erect phallus, serving as a reminder of the powerful magic residing in the alerted male member”.

On the kouros, Greek sculpture representing a nude young man, “the sex was simply uncovered; while the phallus was emphasized on satyrs and herms, and on the stage”. “The kouros type fits the concept of the sacred quality of nudity: its nakedness represented a feature of initiation ritual. It referred to those religious dances and rituals that called for the candidate’s nakedness as a special costume or habit”. The ideal of youthful male beauty “included the small penis of a younger man”. “Youth was an essential aspect of the nudity of the kouros. Old men and ugly slaves have longer penises”.

“In contrast to the large, erect phallus of the magic, apotropaic figure, a beautiful young man was characterized by a small penis. For women, too, whether they were represented naked or dressed, in art, literature, and life, depilation and small breasts were part of the ideal of youthful beauty”.

Of course, each time has its own aesthetic values. I’ll bear it in mind when choosing the images for my blog.

It’s hard to write something new about selfies. Everyone knows that the word “selfie” was announced the word of the year for 2013 (by the Oxford Dictionaries). Wikipedia defines “selfie” as “a self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a hand-held digital camera or camera phone. Selfies are often shared on social networking services” [1].

The first photographic portrait ever taken is considered by many to be the first “selfie”. It was taken in 1839 by “an amateur chemist and photography enthusiast from Philadelphia named Robert Cornelius” [2]. Another point of view is that “people have taken self-portraits since the 1880s, when camera shutters with self-timers were first available. This increased in 1900 with the debut of the portable Kodak Brownie box” [3]. According to Oxford Dictionaries, the earliest usage of the term – “so far anyway” – was in September 13, 2002 in an ABC Online science forum posting [4,5].

People are taking selfies, trying to find self discovery and self-acceptance, due to boredom or simply for memories. “The abundance of selfies also quite simply allows us to see more images of a far wide range of people” [6].

If you are a nudist and you take a selfie, there’s a high probability that it would be a nude selfie. Many people are outraged by nudity for unknown reasons and, of course, those offended by the sight of naked man or woman cannot “just look away” [7]. There’s a dilemma. On the one hand, you don’t want to harm anybody’s feelings. On the other hand, it seems quite ridiculous to put on clothes just to take a selfie.

The wrong cultural understanding of nudity has a long history. More than 400 years ago, Michel de Montaigne opposed treatment of nudity as something taboo. In his Essays (Book III/Chapter V) he wrote about men’s “natural furniture”

… it were a chaster and more fruitful usage to let them [women] know the fact as it is betimes, than permit them to guess according to the liberty and heat of their own fancy; instead of the real parts they substitute, through hope and desire, others that are three times more extravagant …

and continued

what do we know but that Plato, after other well-instituted republics, ordered that the men and women, old and young, should expose themselves naked to the view of one another, in his gymnastic exercises, upon that very account … [8]

Montaigne argues that “the wearing of clothing for humans is only a custom” [9]. And there is nothing wrong in having different views on customs.

References
1. Selfie – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
2. Robert Cornelius’ Self-Portrait The First Ever “Selfie” (1839) | The Public Domain Review
3. Albert Costill, 13 Things You Should Know About the ‘Word of the Year’ – Selfie | Search Engine Journal
4. Australia stand up and take a ‘selfie’
5. This photo, posted on ABC Online, is the world’s first known ‘selfie’ – ABC News
6. Jill Walker Rettberg, Why people say they take selfies | jill/txt
7. Rosie Yates, Why are we so outraged by nudity? – Concrete
8. The Essays of Montaigne by Michel de Montaigne, translated by Charles Cotton
9. Stefanie Hollmichel, Montaigne the Nudist?

Self-portrait 04/01/13 by Vadim aka t-maker | Flickr – Photo Sharing!

Nude Selfie. Self-portrait 04/01/13 by Vadim aka t-maker | Flickr – Photo Sharing!

P.S. This selfie is from the set uploaded to Flickr. The images were taken with iPhone using a Hipstamatic app for iOS.

This question has no answer, as, in fact, any question related to human behavior. This field deals with opinions, not facts. I’ll try to come to solid grounds by specifying, what can be considered as a ‘good idea’. Probably, one can describe an idea as ‘good’ for an individual, if it increases (at least slightly) the probability of his or her survival in social or biological sense. If we accept this, then we can consider a few self-evident arguments.

I’ll start with an argument expressed by Bart Simpson, maybe the most gifted philosopher of my generation, who said once: “But girls might see my doodle”. Only a brief answer can be attempted here. First of all, anxiety impacts negatively on human social and emotional well-being and thinking. In this sense, unnecessary worries are not helpful in any case. Of course, there are many things in the world a responsible citizen should worry about, such as ‘global warming’, ‘exhaustion of natural resources’, or ‘unfair distribution of revenues’. Against this background, all the worries about ‘doodle’ appear as more or less meaningless. It is not surprising that Bart did not take this argument seriously himself.

Another problem is that after seeing your nude photographs, one may begin to suspect that there is something behind them. Namely, you may be suspected in belonging to a deviant subculture. Exactly. Nudism is a “deviant subculture“, a “social and sexual phenomenon“. Nudists “are usually socially disapproved of by the larger population“. It is not clear that there exist “social and cultural benefits to involvement in the deviant subculture of nudism“. (see Nudism as a deviant subculture. StudyMode.com. Retrieved 10, 2010, from http://www.studymode.com/essays/Nudism-As-a-Deviant-Subculture-459650.html). Does it look like a real threat for anyone who wants to improve his or her chances of social success? The answer is, of course, individual.

The biggest immediate benefit for me of being a nudist is a feeling of freedom and consciousness of it. I believe that the impact of a nudist lifestyle on my life is positive. I hope that nudist photos would help to share the amazing experience of living a life of a nudist.

But what if these photos evoke some unwanted emotions and feelings in a viewer? The viewer’s reaction is often impossible to predict. In Zapisovatelé otcovský lásky, a Czech novel written by Michal Viewegh, one fictitious character is getting sexually excited when he sees a bathroom sink. Does it mean that images of bathroom sinks should be prohibited in his world?

After some delay, I’d like to post new weekend photos. I’ve already written about my interest in self-portraits.

Since Albrecht Dürer began a series of painted self-portraits in 1493 that provided insight into the changing nature of his character and beliefs over a lifetime, artists have expressed numerous inner concerns through self-portraits. Self-portraits allow artists to show awareness of their own appearance and traits, producing evidence of the intricacies of their lives. … Self-portraits can be projections of the self that represent you as you are, or they can present hidden aspects of the self, sometimes revealing a secret self. (from Light and lens: photography in the digital age by Robert Hirsch, MAKING PORTRAITS: WHO AM I AND WHO ARE YOU?)

So I cannot pass over the self-portraits by Czekoladowe-Ciastko (“Chocolate Cake” in Polish is the nickname chosen by Kamila from Poland), especially taking into account their popularity on deviantART.

Oj tam oj tam by Czekoladowe-Ciastko on deviantART

Oj tam oj tam by Czekoladowe-Ciastko on deviantART

Like Light To The Flies by Czekoladowe-Ciastko on deviantART

Like Light To The Flies by Czekoladowe-Ciastko on deviantART

Link
Czekoladowe-Ciastko on deviantART

As I’ve written in my previous post, I’d like to start a regular column in my blog. It will appear regularly (I hope so) – once a week, at weekend. Just one or two images, short information, links. Nothing more.

Concerning copyrights and rights of use. If an author of a photo is a Flickr or deviantART member and allows other members of the community (as myself) to add their photos to blogs, I’ll view it as a permission to add their photos to this particular blog. In the case of any misunderstanding, the images will be removed at the request of their author(s). I hope to direct those interested in the works represented in this column to the sites and galleries of the photographers.

This pilot issue represents the self-portraits by Arunima McNeish. I’ve discovered her photostream on Flickr recently. Here are a few of her photos. Taken with a Polaroid i737.

pinned (inside a sweater) by arunima.maria on Flickr

pinned (inside a sweater) by arunima.maria on Flickr

saucey seductions by arunima.maria on Flickr

saucey seductions by arunima.maria on Flickr

arunima.maria  / Arunima McNeish is a model and photographer from Ontario, Canada.

She writes in her profile on Flickr

I also do a little of my own photography- mostly self-portraiture. Sadly, I only have a $50 camera I bought from Walmart a while back, so I am rather limited in quality. I do however, have a bajillion ideas constantly running through my head, for beautiful/powerful/thought-provoking images and otherwise, and hopefully can live out and share many of them with the universe.

Links:
arunima.maria’s photostream on Flickr

In the first post I wrote about my first steps in making self-portraits. Since the case in point was a nude self-portrait I placed some emphasis on naturism. But naturism was not the only thing I discovered for myself. The human body is proved to be one of the most complicated objects for photography. Moreover, the technique used for making self-portraits imposes some extra restrictions on the whole process and its results.

Self-portraits give a unique chance for photographers to look at themselves from a distance. At the same time, someone looking at a self-portrait may enter the inner life of the photographer and proceed in understanding the way he/she sees him/herself. It is well known that most of the people (or even everyone) experience lack of knowledge of themselves (their real position in the world) and do not understand how they look in the eyes of the other.

In brief, I became interested in self-portraits and began to pay attention to them. In this blog I would like to share some of my discoveries.

About a year ago I found out the paintings and photographs of Johanna Chambers, a talented  artist and photographer from California. The works from both her accounts (main and stock) on deviantART are interesting and remain in memory. Her self-portraits are impressive.

Self Portrait With Oil Lamp by johannachambers

Self Portrait With Oil Lamp by johannachambers

Water Pitcher Nude Stock 6 by chamberstock

Water Pitcher Nude Stock 6 by chamberstock

One can learn more about Johanna Chambers and her art from IWW Interview. Her personal site is here.

P.S. deviantART is on my list of favorite sites for a long time. It is a well-known online community showcasing various forms of user-made art including photography, digital art, traditional art, literature, Flash, filmmaking, and skins for applications. The level of works that can be found here varies from something like “Me and my cat” (treated with respect) to real masterpieces. Most get, of course, somewhere in between (I feel that my submissions are closer to the first mentioned category, but I keep on working :-)).