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how few pixels are needed to still be "porn"?
February 8, 2002 6:01 PM   Subscribe

how few pixels are needed to still be "porn"? "...I started experimenting with thumbnails that my mom could tell were porn. Then I started applying filters and such to see if I could obscure the suggestive content into a more abstracted form..." Has this art touched upon a new art?
posted by jcterminal (24 comments total)

 
crap!

here's the link.

what the hell was i thinking?
posted by jcterminal at 6:03 PM on February 8, 2002


It's hard to type with only one hand.
posted by ColdChef at 6:24 PM on February 8, 2002


Some of those look too Photoshop filterish.

On a similar vein, there's this: pornography with the figures removed (completely safe) by the guy that did screenshots. Some of the Photoshop work is a bit off, but I think they're far more interesting for what they reveal with the key focus removed.
posted by mkn at 6:25 PM on February 8, 2002


Anyone remember a post that was on here several months ago that was called something like 'Pornography Decor' and it was porn with the figures blacked out and comments about the decor in the background? Can't find the link. It was good.
posted by wackybrit at 6:34 PM on February 8, 2002


I swear I've looked at so much porn, my eyes must be going. Unless ....

wackybrit: That would be Obscene Interiors. I remembered it instantly ... found it deep in my bookmarks ... opened a new browser window; it's my front page ... looked up on Google with porn+decor+critique.
posted by dhartung at 7:00 PM on February 8, 2002


I think Greg Sidal has achieved the ultimate in obfuscated porn, don't you?
posted by Su at 7:22 PM on February 8, 2002


hey! thats me!

any questions?
posted by ambirex at 7:25 PM on February 8, 2002


The illicit images (obfuscated porn) were in Wired magazine a while back. Anybody see it?
posted by 49.9% at 8:13 PM on February 8, 2002


Dude! That's my sister!!!
posted by Dirjy at 8:16 PM on February 8, 2002


There's nothing like LEGO (tm) porn...
posted by stormy at 8:28 PM on February 8, 2002


It is interesting that so many people have taken on this "Where is the line between porn and not porn" or, more broadly, representation/abstraction. Jasper Johns explored this idea with his early flag paintings (were his paintings flags or paintings of flags, given a flag is a concept that has many, many physical manifestations, rather than a fixed object). Gerhard Richter also explored this issue in the early sixties, making very lush, exact oil paintings of photographs (some pornographic) and then using a soft brush to blur the entire painting (or splashes and slashed of brightly paint that 'destroyed' the representation).

The advent of Photoshop and other digital tools makes it very, very difficult to make such distinctions anymore, as proven recently by a case going through the Supreme Court, John D. Ashcroft, Attorney General, et al. v. The Free Speech Coalition, et al. The case is to determine if possession or distribution of images that "appear to be lascivious depictions of a minor" should be a prosecutable felony. The implications of this decision go well beyond the issue of child pornography, as Ashcroft seeks to extend the definitions of the existing law to include even legitimate films (Films discussed as possible offenders are "Titanic", "Blue Lagoon" and "Lolita"). This case seems to be an important one, the first before the Supreme Court to question digital manipulation of images and when images constitute illegal pornography. The oral arguments that were made in October are very interesting, amusing, and frightening. [PDF file]

wackybrit: Another site that had that porn interior decor commentary was NightCharm's Lurid Digs [warning: not suitable for work or family viewing]

I like the "Figures Removed" work, mkn, But most work in this genre is too conceptual and formulaic. I like a little freewheeling and intuitive process mixed with the content.

Several years ago, I made some paintings based on pornographic images. I traced the image from the TV screen with a piece of vellum, then transferred the image to a wooden panel. I then tried to flatten the image, saturate the color, abstract it as much as possible until it was just on the edge of total cartoony representation and abstraction. If you're interested, they're on my website, the first one is called "Pale Skin"
posted by evanizer at 8:29 PM on February 8, 2002


crap!

Yeah. You got that right.

Has this art touched upon a new art?

No.
posted by crunchland at 8:53 PM on February 8, 2002


[warning: not suitable for work or family viewing]

jeez, evanizer, you weren't kiddin'. That was some top page...
posted by jonmc at 9:28 PM on February 8, 2002


If I remember the old Lenny Bruce bit correctly, then it's decency is measured by how much it turns on the layman.

Maybe they should update the Cambria List just in case that layman knows his alien skin filters.
posted by destro at 10:56 PM on February 8, 2002


jonmc: Ditto, but I would have said that it was some bottom page. Ahem.

evanizer: Consider Robert Mapplethorpe and all the ruckus that was raised over his work in the late '80's by people calling it pornography, when in fact all he wanted to do was capture the play of forms and texture, light and dark, and, yes, address (homo)eroticism as being a valid subject for high art. I think the deciding factor, ultimately, is the intent of the creator of said work. I couldn't find the quote that jcterminal has in the FPP on the site itself, so I can't really tell if the end goal was the mere obfuscation of the graphic images, or if there is more social or personal commentary going on there that I don't see. I guess in a way we can call it Formalist, but I don't see any proof of that being the main impetus behind these creations, either. :)
posted by mosspink at 11:18 PM on February 8, 2002


Ashcroft seeks to extend the definitions of the existing law to include even legitimate films

Far be it from me to defend the grim deacon, but that's an exaggerated reading of the current action by the government. First of all, Ashcroft isn't seeking anything; Congress passed a law (CPPA). The Free Speech Coalition is seeking to have the law declared unconstitutional, and obtained a ruling in a Federal court invalidating key provisions of the law. Ashcroft, and Janet Reno before him, have counter-petitioned for a writ of certiorari -- essentially a reversal of the court's earlier ruling, which would then allow the Justice Department to enforce the law that Congress passed.

Personalizing this on Ashcroft may make for good propaganda, but it's fundamentally dishonest.

Finally, the authority that the Justice Department seeks does mean a broadening of the law, but it is certainly not the stated aim of the USDOJ to interpret it as to include movies like Titanic. It is rather the assertion of the Free Speech Coalition (for those who haven't heard of it, it's basically an ad hoc grouping of organizations like the ACLU and EFF for the common purpose of challenging this particular law) that broadening the law could or would lead to its use against mainstream commercial films. The USDOJ says instead that "the law is not overbroad", stating The statute is aimed at hard core child pornography and does not apply to innocuous images of naked children. Nor does it reach drawings, cartoons, sculptures, or paintings depicting youthful persons in sexually explicit poses.

Of course, the FSC will argue differently, but characterizing this as Ashcroft sitting in his office and casually telling an aide, "I'd like to ban that sick Titanic movie -- draw up some papers" is needlessly inflammatory.
posted by dhartung at 11:37 PM on February 8, 2002


Don't forget J.Ko's classic Simply Porn
posted by owillis at 11:40 PM on February 8, 2002


Whew, talk about a dressing-down, dhartung...But you are right, I made casual mention to the case and personalized Ashcroft as the sole petitioner, rather than going into correct detail about the nature of the suit and the CPPA. If you read the links I cited and also read the transcript of the opinions (rather than my hasty and misleading lead-in), it gives a fascinating view of how a complicated matter like this is sorted out in the Supreme Court. Apologies.

And, for the record, I am not a foamy-mouthed Ashcroft hating mud slinger, even if it did come off that way.

Thanks dhartung for the intelligent correction.
posted by evanizer at 12:00 AM on February 9, 2002


i was kind of intrigued by the concept of rotoscoped porn so i went looking on the interweb to search and see if there was such a thing:

Cecily Brown's Four Letter Heaven takes a skinflick and redraws it in lurid animated watercolour, reducing it sometimes to the abstract. The whole is set to some carnivalesque jazz without end and seems to promise opportunity to watch porn without moral consequence.

turns out it also, "[h]as the dubious distinction of being the first film officially censored off the Internet."
posted by kliuless at 9:16 AM on February 9, 2002


I'm so bummed! Furniture Porn (<--- link doesn't work) seems to be offline, and it's a classic. Anyone know if some alternative site is hosting it?
posted by verdezza at 9:50 AM on February 9, 2002


never fear! the web archive is here :)
posted by kliuless at 10:06 AM on February 9, 2002


evanizer, thanks for not taking it personally -- it really wasn't intended that way. I just see way too much oversimplification of things like this. (Typical is Slashdot breathlessly discussing some two-bit judge's ruling like the Supreme Court has permanently decided the issue.) In this particular case, I think that personalizing this as a crusade of the attorney general not only overlooks the cross-administration, cross-party nature of the counter-petition, but obscures the original role of Congress in passing the law.
posted by dhartung at 11:49 AM on February 9, 2002


> how few pixels are needed to still be "porn"?

One


Criminal laws in this area are constitutionally limited to hard-core pornography. I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced with that shorthand description. ... But I know it when I see it.

--Justice Potter Stewart (concurring), Jacobellis v. Ohio, 378 U.S. 184, 198 (1964).


posted by jfuller at 3:36 PM on February 9, 2002


crunchland,

thank you. yours is my favorite comment (crap!)! you have made my personal hero list. (no joking)

-ambirex
posted by ambirex at 9:09 AM on February 10, 2002


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