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Going too far in general - Artistic vision vs offensive content

Jan 17, 2012

    1. So, perusing the Debate section I've seen loads of threads suggesting that there are ways in which we might 'go too far' with our dolls--everything from body blushing to religious themes to blood and gore. I, as an artist, personally believe that artistic integrity and the artist's vision triumphs over any possible cry of political correctness or 'think of the children'. However, is it possible that by not doing our research or blindly diving head-first into something with our dolls, we offend someone to an extent that is inhumane? Should artistic integrity really triumph, or does, say, the body blushing of tinies constitute a potentially seriously offensive act? Can we as human beings and artists truly 'not care' what anyone else thinks and stick to our vision in the face of potentially nasty content? To put it in simple terms--can we really ever go too far?
       
    2. Honestly, if someone wants to take offense to something, that's on them. Everyone has different levels to what they find offensive.

      As long as your not hurting anyone or anything or breaking the law I personally, don't see issue with it. Many times, some of the best art makes you question your comfort boundaries and deeply held beliefs. This can be particularly interesting with dolls because when done very realistic, they walk the uncanny valley That alone is disturbing and offensive to many.

      IMHO, offending someone isn't inhumane. Like, you'd have to take it SUPER SUPER far and push truly disturbing images on people who are unwilling to look. Like, pushing rape images on a former victim (or anyone >.>). Not giving them the choice to look or not. THAT is wrong. Questioning one's beliefs (religious, social etc.)on the other hand, can be a nice challenge with interesting results sometimes.

      Taking a tiny doll and putting as much detail into the body as you can, may creep out some but I really don't see why if it's with good intentions. How many here on DOA are doing it to get their jollies? Just because someone wants to put more detail into erm... certain parts of their dolls doesn't mean they have any "nasty" intention by it. Do fine artists have "nasty" intentions when they portray the same things in their sculpture and paintings? Man, I have sketchbooks full of genitals from life drawing sessions, does that make me a freak? lol To some it does.

      Artists have been depicting detailed nudity in children for centuries. Some may find "Cupid and Psyche as Children by William Bouguereau to be offensive. I wonder how long he spent rendering that child? Do you think he did it with "nasty" intention? There's a leap from just accurately depicting a figure as you want and fetishizing it.

      I see dolls as no different. If there's something you want to do with them, feel free. They are your things and to be used to express your own ideas. Don't let someone police your ideas, whatever they are! You may be surprised about what you can do when you push the envelope.

      I hope that made some kind of sense :)
       
    3. Well said, Patches.

      I feel like potentially offensive content is handled well on DoA. Since we're a 13-and-up forum, there are already certain parameters in place. And users are good about tagging posts "gore", or "NSFW", so I rarely click on a link without understanding what I'm getting into. I DO think it's the poster's responsibility to put a warning if the content might be offensive--it's just the polite thing to do. I personally get weirded out by gore mods and often won't look at those threads, but that's just me, and I don't mind that other people are looking at them.

      I think there's an "over the line" for this particular forum, because it's all-ages and that comes with certain expectations. (And DoA has concrete guidelines about what's OK.) But in general? I don't know, they're just dolls--no real people are being harmed. As long as it's labeled and in the appropriate place, I'm going to come down on the side of artistic expression with this one.
       
    4. I understand that some people are more easily offended than others, and I respect that, which is why any of my work that could be deemed offensive I place a warning beforehand (or tag it mature on deviantArt), usually with a brief description of what could be found offensive so that the viewer can make an informed decision: for example: nudity, sexual themes, cannibalism, necrophilia, horror... you get the picture.

      Yet despite this, and the general knowledge that my work does tend to be dark and morbid, people STILL click on my work and STILL berate me for giving them nightmares. At that point, I don't care. If I warned you what to expect, and you went and looked anyway and then saw something that frightened you- that's not my fault, it's not my problem, and I don't accept responsibility for people's nightmares or horror.

      At that point, the viewer must assume responsibility themselves. Here, people are obliged to warn viewers of what they can expect, and on DeviantArt you can set your browser to hide mature work. I did this because I'm so sick of seeing pornography on the front page (there is no use reporting it as nothing is ever done about it), which the result that now I can't view my own work. Some people can be irresponsible in showing "mature" work in a place where it shouldn't be with inadequate warnings, ie: a spread-open vulva being masturbated on the front page of dA, which I think is inappropriate and vulgar. Some people can be irresponsible in clicking on something while knowing the work is deliberately dark and scary despite the warnings, and then getting frightened by it.

      TL;DR: People should be considerate, mature and responsible when viewing and creating work that can be considered offensive.
       
    5. I think people should do as they please with their dolls and I am entirely on the side of creative expression. As long as no living creatures are harmed, I don't think you can go too far. That being said, there are places one can post controversial photos and places where one cannot. I appreciate boundaries and choice, and while I don't believe that art should be censored, I also should have the right to chose not to look at things I personally find offensive.
       
    6. That's because they are pervs. PERVS I tell you.

      On a more serious note: It will be a dark day when the law of hurt feelings is going to dictate us what we can and can't do. If you publish something, there will always be the chance that someone is going to get offended. That's just how it works. It doesn't mean that artists should limit themselves.
      As long as an artist is responsible with the content he creates - and 'real' artists usually are - he might provoke, he might shock, but he won't hurt someone for life.

      And personally, I don't think that what we've come across here on this board with dolls is ever getting close to the really disturbing things out there.
       
    7. Consensus seems to be that there is no offensive content, just offended people.

      Just to argue a bit on the other side, some artists have the deliberate intent to shock and offend. They will come out and say that's what they're trying to do. How do they fit into this debate?
       
    8. Yes

      No
       
    9. I really dislike seeing offensive (to me) art and even though I may personally find an artist's motivation to shock and offend people disgusting, I still don't think I can support censoring someone else's artistic vision. I think that once censoring art becomes acceptable, it's difficult to draw the line, because determining what is offensive is purely subjective. For example, almost everyone is offended by acts of violence against children, but what if the art is calling attention to this as a political statement and the intent to shock is a deliberate means to focus awareness? I just think that censoring art or literature for any reason is opening a can of worms.
       
    10. To be honest, I think those kind of people are acting stupidly. What's the point in randomly trying to shock and offend? If they think it's groundbreaking or somehow new and artistically challenging, that may have been true twenty years ago but not now. The era of Damien Hirst being somehow exciting is over, thank God, and most people walking past his work in the Tate Modern don't give it a second glance. Being simply offensive or shocking in itself does not warrant artistic merit, in my view.
       
    11. My personal feeling is that there is a line that can be crossed, but I don't know if I could define what that line is. Maybe it comes down to intent rather than content.

      I do agree that it would be risky to start censoring, since so much of it is subjective. I can't help feeling there must be some subject matter that everyone would find offensive, but I don't know what they might be.
       
    12. No one really forces their dolls on you. Most people post on the topic title that the pictures contain blood, gore or other such warnings. The only thing I would find offensive would possibly be using younger child-type dolls in a sexually suggestive manner or persistent gore and blood that suggests or depicts child torture. But, people are free to express their art this way if they choose. I don't have to look at it. Unless someone is tying me down and forcibly eye-raping me with their doll, I don't have a problem with various artistic expressions.
       
    13. In terms of creation, no probably not (assuming you're not killing people with your doll as part of the presentation, of course ;) ).

      That said, when it comes to the display of your creations in public (or privately in a space owned by someone other than yourself) there is a certain responsibility to follow the standard of behaviour. That's not about, as you put it " political correctness or 'think of the children'" - it's about following the rules of whoever happens to be hosting your work.

      If you're posting on DoA (or any similar forum), you need to follow the forum rules or risk being banned. If you're setting up an installation in a gallery and they have guidelines, then you need to follow those or risk having your work rejected or your show closed. If you use symbols that might get you into legal trouble (intellectual property rights, hate speech, etc) then you shouldn't be surprised to find yourself in court.
       
    14. Can I perhaps take a cue from Hunter S. Thompson and suggest that we call these artists who enjoy pushing the envelope "gonzo doll collectors"? XD
       
    15. linakauno said it better than I ever could.

      If you are personally disgusted by what you see, just walk away, or push the back-button. I think it's going way to far to censor something, because I feel uncomfortable. Like the artist, the audience also has a responsibility to know when they're out of line.

      When you start censoring things, it's a slippery slope down hill.

      Sometimes shocking people is necessary to get your audience out of their comfort zone, so they start thinking about what you say. I know I often use this example, but if you watch the movie American History X, there are some shockingly violent scenes in it. Could the creators have toned it down a bit, so we would feel more comfortable? Sure. But then we would never be able to fully feel how evil hatred really is. Sometimes you need to see it to understand.
       
    16. Just to clarify, I don't believe in censorship either. I also agree with you, Silk, that sometimes shock is necessary to shake people out of complacency. But I think there are some artists who are ONLY trying to shock or horrify, with no artistic or philosophical intent whatever.
       
    17. Even if they are "just trying to shock", so what? Let 'em try. Reaction will always occur, and from that, counterreaction. In the ensuing dialogue, both artist and viewer may learn something about themselves.
       
    18. I so totally agree. Remember, that artwork you think is just being offensive to be offensive/shock, probably has a reason behind it that you're just not getting so you shouldn't write if off right away. It's always best to investigate these kinds of works and their artists further and if you're one of these artists, to be sure your audience understands what you're trying to do.

      Why say, did you lovingly put tons of detail into that tiny's body blushing then decapitate it and string it up on a cross? The why is what matters. Whatever you need to do to get your message across, go for it. Holding back because you may offend could be keeping you from something great!

      I would rather see something shocking or depraved with thought and emotion put behind it that provokes your brain into thinking over vapid fluff if that makes any sense. Yeah, it might not be something I'd hang on my wall for decoration but I will have been touched by that artist in a way that can be magical and chilling if done right. It's not for everyone, art that pushes the limits, but it's certainly appreciated by many.

      I am reminded of one of my favorite artists, Gottfried Helnwein, an artist who lovingly depicts some pretty disturbing subject matter, mostly involving children.

      This too! Sometimes shocking just to shock can bring about very interesting results!
       
    19. Also, if an artists sole purpose is to shock, he needs an audience. If you'd censor these people, they get exactly what they want: attention. Best way to deal with these people is to ignore them.
       
    20. There's no point in ignoring them, because they don't care whether you're watching; there's always someone else watching. The internet has scotched the whole notion of any kind of full boycott on anything.

      But even better than willful ignorance, why not just tell the artist that you're offended? And then that'll make you examine why you feel offended by it. And then the artist might actually tell you why s/he chose to tell the story in that manner. And then that'll make the artist examine their own motives & methods in another light. And people might actually learn things from each other.