Sunday, 26 August 2012

Vintage erotic photography 1845-1920

Anonymous c.1845

Photography began in 1826. The first nude (a male self-portrait) around 1840. The earliest 'erotic' photo I can find around 1845. I should point out that a nude photo is not necessarily erotic, pornography never. But what quality is it that makes an image erotic? Today we are bombarded by visual cliches, and it is hard to find anything in the commercial or creative world that is in any way original. In the world of fashion photography Helmut Newton set the bar so high in the 1970's that no-one since has seriously challenged his achievement. And today's cult of celebrity with body modification and photo manipulation tools result in beauty and desirability looking distinctly alien.

At first glance we might admire the apparent naivety of the early attempts at erotica in photography. Keep in mind that the first photographs required long exposures, certainly taxing for the models. Many of the photos in this post were taken in Paris, and while we might admire French liberalism the reality was the models were often girls who had fallen on hard times. Modelling may have been a slightly more attractive proposition than prostitution or virtual slavery. The photos themselves are a strange mixture of attempts at 'art', sexual humour, enticement or just 'naughty'. What effect they had on their audience is unknown, but we do know that a number of photographers specialised in the field and made a living from their sales. They also reflect the development of technology and techniques in photography.

I have selected a number of favourites from the vast repository that is available through the very wonderful Wikimedia Commons website, and posted them here under the GNU Free Documentation License and Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license public domain 'copyleft' principles. 

Enter the gallery here...

Anonymous c.1920

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

UbuWeb



UbuWeb is one of those sites that represents all that is good about the Internet, and is an absolute must for anyone purporting to have an interest in contemporary creativity. Where else could you listen to Marcel Duchamp giving a talk on the creative process in 1957, or hear Hans Arp reading his own poetry, or watch Pina Bausch dance, or listen to Brain Eno's recordings in the mid-70s, or watch Paul McCarthy's video experiments? Below, the FAQ's from UbuWeb explain what it is about...

When did UbuWeb Start?
UbuWeb was founded in November of 1996, initially as a repository for visual, concrete and, later, sound poetry. Over the years, UbuWeb has embraced all forms of the avant-garde and beyond. Its parameters continue to expand in all directions.

How is UbuWeb funded?
UbuWeb has no need for funding. All work is done solely on a volunteer basis. Our only cost is our monthly hosting fee, which amounts to US$50 each month.

Can I get involved?
Yes. UbuWeb is built by many hands and we are always in need of digitizers, both audio and textual. Drop us a line if you are interested and capable.

Can I use something posted on UbuWeb on my site, in a paper, in a project, etc.?
Sure. We post many things without permission; we also post many with things with permission. We therefore give you permission to take what you like even though in many cases, we have not received permission to post it. We went ahead and did it anyway. You should too.

How do I purchase something from your site?
You can't. Nothing is for sale on UbuWeb. It's all free. We know it's a hard idea to get used to, but there's no lush gift shop waiting for you at the end of this museum.

What is your policy concerning posting copyrighted material?
If it's out of print, we feel it's fair game. Or if something is in print, yet absurdly priced or insanely hard to procure, we'll take a chance on it. But if it's in print and available to all, we won't touch it. The last thing we'd want to do is to take the meager amount of money out of the pockets of those releasing generally poorly-selling materials of the avant-garde. UbuWeb functions as a distribution center for hard-to-find, out-of-print and obscure materials, transferred digitally to the web. Our scanning, say, an historical concrete poem in no way detracts from the physical value of that object in the real world; in fact, it probably enhances it. Either way, we don't care: Ebay is full of wonderful physical artifacts, most of them worth a lot of money.

Should something return to print, we will remove it from our site immediately. Also, should an artist find their material posted on UbuWeb without permission and wants it removed, please let us know. However, most of the time, we find artists are thrilled to find their work cared for and displayed in a sympathetic context. As always, we welcome more work from existing artists on site.

Let's face it, if we had to get permission from everyone on UbuWeb, there would be no UbuWeb.

How do I download MP3s?
There are thousands of resources on the web to learn how to do this. That's not what we're here for.

I only have RealPlayer. How come you mostly have MP3s?
MP3s are almost open source. RealMedia is proprietary. We'll always choose open source over proprietary. In the beginning, we streamed RealMedia because that's all there was. The few Real files on site are leftover from those days. We'll be getting rid of them as soon as we can. In the meantime, should Ogg Vorbis or some other truly open source media grow popular enough, we'll migrate to that.

Are you affiliated with a university?
No. UbuWeb is a completely independent site. However, several universities and partners have generously offered us server space and bandwith, with no restrictions or input regarding our content. We have gratefully accepted their offers.

Why are your pages in English? / Why are your pages not in English?
Most of our pages are in English; several of them are not. UbuWeb is accessed universally, hence much of our content is in several languages (the Jean-Luc Godard interview with Serge Daney, for example, is in French). We encourage more multi-linguistic material. If you speak a language other than English and are interested in translating some of our pages or content into your language, we'd be thrilled to post your efforts.

Who are you?
See our masthead, our board of directors, and our partners.

Where are you located?
Our editors are pretty much spread across the United States: New York City, Utah, California, Seattle, etc. You can contact us here.

Why don't you respond to my emails?
Due to the volume of email we receive, we unfortunately cannot respond to them all.

I'm interested in advertising on UbuWeb. How do I go about this?
You don't. UbuWeb is completely commercial-free and it will always stay that way.

Why isn't new content posted every day?
UbuWeb is an archive, not a blog. It has accumulated slowly and steadily and shall continue to far into the future.

I'd like to receive notices of UbuWeb updates. How do I do this?
UbuWeb refuses to advertise or promote itself. Most of all, we detest the idea of filling inboxes with more unwanted material. A few times a year, we post our updates to select mailing lists; that's what they're for, aren't they? For UbuWeb updates, best to just keep checking back on the homepage, where notices of all new content appears.

Do you have an UbuWeb listserve?
Yes, but it's private.

What system do you design UbuWeb on? What browser is UbuWeb optimized for?
We are diehard Mac devotees. We love Firefox.

What is your philosophy?
See our manifesto.

Why is there no Alfred Jarry on UbuWeb?
;)

What happened to the image of the nude woman at the top of the Artist Index page?
Too many people complained that it was offensive, so we removed it and replaced it instead with another Wallace Berman image that we like just as much. It's from the cover of his seminal magazine from the 1960's Semina. As ever, UbuWeb runs off the fumes of Wallace Berman.


Why won't you look at my MySpace page?
It's ugly, crowded, filled with ads, blares music at you, and nine times out of ten, crashes our browser. Really, it's the polar opposite of UbuWeb. Just as in meatspace there are certain streets you never walk down, so in cyberspace, we assidiously avoid the MySpace mall. No ifs ands or buts. Sorry.

Monday, 20 August 2012

What Patrick Hutchings taught me about art...

Many years ago I started studying for a long distance degree in visual arts through Deakin University. I started off with a bang, getting a higher distinction for my first assignment on the emergence of realism in Renaissance art, then stumbled while trying to find a symbolism that wasn't there in 17C Dutch still life, and finally crashed into boredom with British landscape painting before deciding that the academic path was not for me.

Part of the deal was to attend a study tour at the National Gallery of Victoria where we got to meet our tutor, whose name I am embarrassed to say I have forgotten. I do remember that she had shapely legs, wore seamed stockings and high heels, and to follow her around the hallowed halls of this great gallery discussing the collection was indeed a pleasure.

Patrick Hutchings, teacher, author, critic, and one of the grand old men of Australian art, had recently retired from Deakin, but he did condescend to grace us with his presence on one of these tours. His knowledge of, and insight into art was profoundly illuminating. He was also a very entertaining lecturer whose passion for his subject often increased as the audience grew. On one occasion he began a dialogue in front of Picasso's Weeping Woman. Our group of six rapidly grew to about thirty members of the public as he shared his knowledge, finishing with spontaneous applause from an enlightened crowd.

We were wandering through the modern European collection when we passed the only Cezanne. He said, "Of course, this is not a very good Cezanne". Now I have never been a big fan of Cezanne, so I somewhat cynically asked, "How do you tell a good Cezanne from a bad Cezanne?". He turned to me smiling, and said, "Bob, by looking at lots of Cezannes".

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Surrealism - Part Two

The Grand Master - Luis Bunuel

After my revelatory discussions with Dusan Marek, who had taught me that Surrealism was more a way of life than an art movement, and my meeting with Denys Finney, who had opened the possibility of me becoming an artist, I started to study my new interest with passion. Influential books were:

  • Dada: art and anti-art by Hans Richter
  • The History of Surrealist Painting by Marcel Jean
  • Diary of a Genius by Salvador Dali
  • Surrealism by Herbert Read
  • Selected Poems and Nadja by Andre Breton
  • Surrealists on Art ed. by Lucy Lippard
  • The Road to the Absolute by Anna Balakian
  • Dialogues with Marcel Duchamp by Pierre Cabanne

But the person who (for me) galvanised the essence of surrealism was Luis Bunuel, in my opinion the most compleat surrealist of all. The first Bunuel film I saw was Viridiana. The effect of this I can only liken to a Buddhist achieving enlightenment. And the story of it's making, and subsequent release, is as surreal as the film itself.

Fernando Rey and Sylvia Pinal in Viridiana 1961

The story is purely de Sadeian in concept, and could have (like de Sade's Justine) been subtitled The folly of virtue. But where the Divine Marquis attempts to shock with his pornography, Bunuel shocks with subversive ideas, and it is this that makes the film so dangerous. Bunuel said, 'What I am aiming to do in my films is to disturb people and destroy the rules of a kind of conformism that wants everyone to think that they are living in the best of all possible worlds'. In Viridiana he takes a swipe at just about everything, from religion to society, moral standards, obsession, class divisions, innocence and trust. In Viridiana there are no winners...everyone loses eventually. I watch Bunuel not to be entertained, but to learn...

Bunuel had returned to Spain from a 25 year self-imposed exile in Mexico to make this film. The script had been submitted to the Government censors who took umbrage with the closing scene, and Bunuel modified it accordingly. Why they allowed the rest of the script is still a mystery. Bunuel shot the film in his usual economic, to the point, often just one take style. The negatives were smuggled into France and the film premiered at the 1961 Cannes Film Festival as Spain's official entry where it was awarded the Palme d'Or and received a 7 minute standing ovation. It was promptly banned by the Franco government in Spain and blacklisted by the Vatican as 'sacreligious and blasphematory'. I suspect that Bunuel was as honored by this response as he was in receiving the Golden Palm. The master had struck again...

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Love Glove

Bob Georgeson, Love Glove, 2010, Photomontage

The Love Glove story is one of those little mysteries in ones art career...despite all intentions the point is lost. I had originally done this as a homage to Hannah Hoch, founding member of the Berlin Dada protest, the undisputed queen of photomontage, and in my opinion one of the most under-rated artists of the 20th Century. At the time I had been working on the Brides of Christ series, and as a result it sat in my folder somewhat unrelated to that theme.

Around the same time a local art group was planning an exhibition called 'Beyond the Edge - Towards Postmodernism'. Well, these cliches were enough to ruffle my feathers, so I quickly joined the group and submitted this work as a protest to all the wanky jargon that to my mind was destroying contemporary art. I thought that what is essentially an image of a masturbating man might create a stir among the plethora of artists whose subject matter often revolved around gum trees and coastal rock textures, and seriously expected to be rejected. An artists statement was also required so I culled phrases from the first International Dada Fair held in Berlin in 1920. Phrases like: 'Dada is the deliberate subversion of bourgeois values.'

The exhibition had also been organised as a competition within the group. $1000 to the artist who best addressed the theme of the show, to be judged by a gallery owner from outside the immediate area. Guess who won? I shook my head as I accepted the cheque...now that's postmodernism for you! I give up...

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Worlds in Collision



Worlds in Collision is a project I have been working on this year. I have been photographing and videoing images and segments from foreign language (well, at least foreign to me) TV news services from Serbia, Croatia and Macedonia. I have a fascination with this part of the world that seems to have had more than its fair share of troubles, whether it be from invaders like the Mongols or Crusaders, or internal conflicts between neighbouring peoples. 

This is the first of my video experiments that I am reasonably happy with. I had originally conceived a more menacing soundtrack, but I never tire of listening to Herbie, and it just happened to fit the length of the timeline...

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Alleyway

Part 3 of Bega deconstructed...Auckland Street...July 2012...

Bob Georgeson, Alleyway, 2012, Digital photograph