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What is tasteful nudity?

Dec 6, 2011

    1. I've seen a previous topic that posed the question why do people shoot nude photos and where does it become pornography. However I would like to know:

      -what do you consider artistic nudes?
      -What defines "artistic"
      -What defines "pornographic"
      -Where, and better yet, should we draw the line?
      -how does this apply to doll photography?
      -Does dolls versus people change your opinions?

      My personal opinion on the topic is that to be artistic, the piece has to have a message. Also, i consider the less full nudity, the more artistic. A naked woman in the shadows is much more artistic to me than a naked woman just lying fully lit on a bedspread. Also, as for when is it pornographic? I believe that when it has no meaning to it. Two people cuddling on a bed naked says a lot more than one person hog tying another. I know art is simply a matter of opinion, though and i want to hear more opinions. Also, on the subject of dolls and how it applies to them, i personally view doll photography in the same light as human photography. I dont think the rules change just because the subject is a doll.

      What do you guys think?
    2. IMO, "artistic" is typically not sexual, and "pornographic" is meant to sexually arouse the viewer. I am very laid back and not the least bit conservative about nudity or sex. Sex is a normal, natural part of life and I don't consider it "bad' or any worse than any other bodily function. So, really, to me, I'm not any more offended by that sort of photoshoot than I am any other type, doll or human.

      But this is just my personal view on it. There are others who feel completely different and that's okay too. :)
    3. Obviously you haven't spent much time talking to any couples who like a little fetishplay for spice in the bedroom. There can be a lot of emotion and trust and sweetness-- what you call "meaning" or "message"-- conveyed in BDSM-type photoshoots. You might not want to just go lumping such things together with Teh Evil & Artless Porn until you know more about them.
    4. Quoted for truth. I'd say, the people in the hogtying photograph will probably have more of their personalities on show, and that there's more opportunity for art there, than in the photo of the cuddling people.

      I reckon that any nudity can be artistic - No lines need to be drawn with regards to the sexual nature of the content (Lost Girls, for example, was both art AND porn), it's just the degree of care with which it's represented, and possibly the setting in which it's viewed. A couple videoing themselves having sex, using a cheap tripod and handycam, is pornography if they show it to the rest of the world, a kind of sweet gesture if they make a copy each for when they're apart, and is High Art if they print a couple of frames on wall-sized canvases and stick it in a gallery with a pretentious caption.
    5. Be careful. This argument cuts both ways. Just because somebody is showing more of their personality while being tied up doesn't make it art. Even if it did make it art, who's to say the couple cuddling isn't expressing themselves?

      Anywho, this isn't about what is and isn't art. There's no real way to define art, as everybody defines it differently. This is about tasteful nudity. I tend to agree with CloakedSchemer. In my mind tasteful nudity isn't meant to arouse the viewer. Then again, people can be aroused by all sorts of things. So, like the definition of art, I don't think there'll be a concrete definition of artistic nudity.
    6. I've always found that old chestnut about "tasteful nudity" quite entertaining. A lot of the fine art, particularly from the Victorian era, that we now see openly displayed in galleries was labelled as "tasteful" or "artistic" nudity by gentlemen of the day who would gather to view those paintings in a closed room away from the ladies and small children... so, to my mind it was pretty much the porn of it's day. Of course there were levels and truly pornographic material was also collected by some those same gentlemen.

      I don't think there is such a thing as tasteful or artistic nudity, just nudity. I find doll nudity to be totally inoffensive and am quite puzzled by the black patches and blurry areas on peoples photos of their dolls in sales threads. Surely even the youngest DOA member realises this is a photo of plastic and not real genitals?

      I think pornography is all about intent. If the intent of the artist is explicitly to titilate or arouse the viewer then to me that is pornography no matter how artistic. I don't really see anything wrong in that either, each to their own and no-one forces the more modest of us to look if there is a content warning. In that way gore mods and other explicit content is also pornography because the intent is the same.
    7. -what do you consider artistic nudes? What defines "artistic"?

      I took several quarters of life drawing in college and I got to see the human form from darn near every perspective. Generally the poses were more about body shapes in space or light and shadow playing over the form. I suppose some of the poses could have had erotic or sensual overtones, depending on your point of view, and those qualities dance along the fine line between art and pornography. It's very subjective, depending on the viewer. If art's purpose is to evoke an emotional response in the viewer, are eroticism and sensuality less acceptable because of the visceral emotions they evoke? I've seen quite a bit of art in that vein and even if the artist is heavyhanded, I wouldn't summarily label the work "pornographic".

      -What defines "pornographic"

      For me, pornography is less about the sexual act and more about humiliation, embarrassment, and powerlessness. In other words, someone is depicted as being humiliated, I am embarrassed that I witnessed it even at a distant secondhand, and was powerless to stop it. Sort of like the difference between "nude" and "naked". "Nude" implies intention and self possession; "naked" implies unintentional vulnerability.

      -how does this apply to doll photography? -Does dolls versus people change your opinions?

      It depends on how seriously you take the images. On one hand, these are inanimate objects, exaggerated representations of the human form. They can't be injured in any way, physically, mentally, or emotionally. On the other hand, the images could represent the photographer's subconscious and that could be very disturbing.
    8. I agree that some porn has strong overtones of humiliation, but it does not necessarily have to and there is some that does not. Grouping all together is overly-simplistic, especially because you can argue about how far the definition of pornography stretches. For example, some very sexual romance novels are called 'porn for women.' Do these have to include humiliation in order to have that definition, or is the fact that they are intended for sexual arousal reason enough?

      Personally, I think we worry way to much about covering up nudity and sexuality, and far too little about covering up violence. The human body is tasteful in and of itself and sexual intercourse is a natural, beautiful act (there are some cases which make it not so, for example if there is a lack of consent, if one or both individuals are being exploited, etc.). So I don't really draw a distinction between 'tasteful nudity' and 'offensive nudity.'
    9. I happen to have the official definition of pornography up my sleeve; it's the “explicit portrayal of human sexual activity, designed to produce sexual arousal", as defined by some court of law somewhere. I used it for an essay I wrote on Fanny Hill.
      But that covers a lot of things. There are plenty of beautiful, legit artworks that design arousal. It could be said that the arousal is a secondary response, and the emotional or visual impact of the artwork is what makes it art.
      I'm very open-minded when it comes to sexual doll photography, as long as it's done well. Doesn't matter which filthy act you're depicting, to me, if it's done well and looks beautiful then it's art. Conversely, a really innocent picture of two dolls kissing can irritate me because it's not done well. So to me, the sexual side doesn't really matter; it's all about how well-made the picture is.
    10. This is a pretty intriguing "debate" in that it really isn't about "tasteful nudity" or even pornography but about that "screen" behind which the gaze originates. Dolls are NOT people and yet they are like human beings...in shape and suggestion. What does the depiction of nudity in doll form or photography say about human nudity? How is the one-step removal part of the process of the sexual gaze?
    11. I have a background/degree in fine arts, so my opinions may be biased towards that. XD

      -what do you consider artistic nudes?
      A work of art or photograph which focuses primarily on the shape, texture and beauty of the human form.

      -What defines "artistic"
      Well, anything can be art. To me, if it is made with the intent of being art, then it is artistic; this can be either aesthetic AND/OR message or meaning behind the work.

      -What defines "pornographic"
      Sexually explicit content---according to the contemporary society or culture in which it was made---produced primarily to evoke "titillation" in either the viewer or the creator. It can also be "artistic"; a number of famous works of Renaissance art were originally produced as titillating images! (I may dig up specific examples if others are interested... otherwise Google-fu!)

      -Where, and better yet, should we draw the line?
      It really, really depends on the context and the audience to which the work is presented, and how clearly or successfully the message is communicated.
      Children. Artistic nudes; sure. (ie. cherubs, putti)
      Pornography; NOT. EVER.
      To me, this includes ALL child-shaped dolls, including the 3,000-year old demon OCs.

      -how does this apply to doll photography?
      Here's where it gets a little complicated. No, really; I wrote a huge term paper on "dolls in photos" for my photography seminar back in university and it was a pretty intense topic.

      While it is not itself a human, it does represent a human in the same way a drawing or sculpture represents a human. A doll can be used in the same manner and intent as a human model in photography. It's hard to give a concrete answer to this question, as there are so many variables for each individual photograph to consider...

      On one hand, a doll can represent the "ideal" human form of either the sculptor or the owner of the doll. A doll does not age or change shape, so we have a little bit of "eternal youth", "forever innocent" (child dolls) or "immortal beauty" (adult dolls) tacked on top of whatever message the rest of the photograph has. A nude shot with this sort of feeling would lean towards artistic, tasteful nudity. The 'feeling' of the photo could be that of study/reflection, intimacy, or aesthetic appreciation of the form of the human body. Generally, a positive or calm afterthought.

      On the other hand, a doll is an object and can, well, objectify the person (doll) in the photo. If the doll is striking a provocative pose while nude, similar to what one may see in adult materials or even some fashion magazines, the object-ness of the doll may stand out in an uncanny way... the "objectification" of the nude figure becomes less about beauty and more about absolute control (the owner poses the doll, the doll cannot move on its own) and projecting a conscious or subconscious sexuality onto or through the doll. This may be considered "tasteless" nudity due to the sexual objectification of a person (via doll). However, it can be used as a very powerful way of delivering a message through a photo; surrealist artist Hans Bellmer blurred sexuality and horror with his dolls, post-modern photographer Cindy Sherman did... funny stuff with medical dummies. Check them out! :)

      -Does dolls versus people change your opinions?
      As sort of explained above, a doll carries both similar visual associations as a human, as well as a whole other can of worms. It's all about the context and content of each photograph.
    12. I think as an American there's also another aspect to this (for me at least), which is that the dolls I grew up with weren't anatomically correct -- I had Barbies and Ken dolls, which don't even have nipples! So part of me thinks it's 'weird' even to see a doll with genitals/nipples/what have you, even though you could make a good argument that the 'abnormal' act was when the dollmakers chose to remove those bits in the first place. I think that plays into the gaze issue that Zagzagael brings up, though I'm not clever enough tonight to tie it together.
    13. @little-reisuke- i have a friend who is a suicide girl, and like you she doesn't do it to be pornographic, just for the art of it. so i know where you are coming from.

      also i should ammend my earlier statement, which i didn't word very well, about hog tying someone. I meant to say art is thought provoking rather than sexually arousing. -shrugs- i just think that i should clarify what i meant haha
    14. I see no reason why it can't be both!! A really well-shot nude/erotic doll photograph can be artistic and arousing simultaneously. However, a photo of two dolls in a crude position shot on someones bed with a cell phone, is just going to make me snort, and to me this is neither artistic NOR arousing :XD:

      As others have said, 'tasteful/artistic' nudity is a portrayal of the beauty of the human form whose primary intention is not to cause sexual arousal, but of course, this can be a secondary reaction. Pornography on the other hand has the primary intention of arousing the viewer. Any artistic merit is secondary.
    15. Oh hello first year sociology course!

      Who's to say pornography isn't a form of art? hmmmm? That's a matter of opinion too. For me, I don't consider it art. But thare are a lot of people who believe Pornography IS an art.

      What is tasteful nudity. For me, it's the depiction of the human body in its most raw and vulnerable form. TASTEFUL NUDITY is NOT SEX. It's nekkidness. Tis my opinion, anyway :)
    16. If a picture has artistic value, but not one with a naked doll (with no vulgarity), looking at which one can only say "what she is beautiful!" - That such pictures do not have anything negative. However, when looking at the dolls you have an aversion or lust, in that case you can call it pornography.
    17. Interesting topic . . .

      -what do you consider artistic nudes?

      If you think of a spectrum that ranges from "pure art" to "pure pornography," I think artistic nudes would fall somewhere in the middle.

      -What defines "artistic"

      I define "artistic" as "reflecting truth and beauty."

      -What defines "pornographic"

      As others have said, designed to arouse.

      -Where, and better yet, should we draw the line?

      It's difficult to draw a line on a spectrum, isn't it? I would err in the direction of art, which has more merit because it is uplifting: as others have said, it appeals to our higher faculties and not just our animal instincts.

      -how does this apply to doll photography?

      I suppose it would have to be carefully done. Without the right skills, it becomes tasteless nudity.

      -Does dolls versus people change your opinions?

      No, because dolls are symbols of people. The message is the same.
    18. I have no trouble viewing 'porn' as a subset of art, personally. Even with that said, some porn is tasteful, some is not -- that's far more a matter for the individual viewer to determine for themselves. Someone might consider any nudity pornographic and unacceptable to them, the next might consider -(insert your own creative visual here that you'd find in a video store's back room, this is a PG13 board and I'd rather not get all crazy describing something graphic)- perfectly acceptable. Legal definitions of pornography really have very little to do with it; this is more the realm of the gut reaction. (This is also noted in the classic quote about obscenity: "I know it when I see it.") Similar issues arise with representations of religion, violence, and other subjects.

      I don't believe for a moment that art is only intended to provoke or inspire positive, 'wholesome', or uplifting motives; I do believe art is intended to provoke a response from the viewer, which is a considerably broader definition. That response can be wholly negative, it can inspire rage or anger, and it's still art -- so there is no rational reason why something that inspires a case of the ragin' hormones would be disqualified from inclusion under the umbrella of 'art'. (Also note, I don't think something that inspires desire is inherently negative or unwholesome, and can't also be positive and uplifting.)
    19. I never understood why people get upset over nude dolls.
      They are just dolls.
      I don't think there can be "pornographic" pictures of dolls. I never understood what the fuss was about.
      Then again, I don't understand why people get upset over pictures of nude people either. I do understand getting upset over pornographic pictures of people. But not just nude pictures of people. The human body is beautiful.
      Doll bodies are beautiful as well.
      Embrace the beauty of nature, weather it be dolls or humans. We're all born naked.
    20. personally, I think it has more to do with who is viewing the image and how they feel about it than a photograph of a nude doll.

      I'm a photographer who on occasion shoots boudoir portraits.. sometimes these women want a little more skin to show than others.. but it's always done tastefully, playfully, and somewhat suggestive.. I don't think I would photograph my dolls in any different fashion than I would photograph those women.. but that is my taste. I'm not offended by naked dolls in the least.. but I guess I can understand why some people would be. Heck, I even saw an online argument once over the Starbucks mermaid being too suggestive.

      Anyway, I see nothing wrong with a photographed nude or semi-doll.. I think when something is inserted into something else that would cross the line from tasteful for me. But then again, like I said, I'm not easily offended by nudity either.