Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Art’

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

dasha-square_2797507aA chair, of all things, has caused an enormous amount of opprobrium and comment of late.

Here it is:

I don’t think it’s an original, but it’s certainly a copy after the style of Allen Jones series of BDSM sculptures of women as furniture from the Pop Art era of the 1960s. 1969 to be precise.

There’s layers to this manufactured scandal, all of which annoy the living piss out of me.

Race

Jones’ originals are of indeterminate white-ish face and since there have been copies and the inspired of every race. It seems peculiarly telling that the objection seems to be on the grounds of racism, rather than objectification of women, which would seem the more obvious choice and – indeed – the point Jones’ appears to have been making with the pieces.

Placing it in a racial context and ignoring the gender/sexual one is idiotic and has knock-on problems.

  1. The prioritisation of race over gender as a source of objection.
  2. Ignoring the fact that such a piece represents broader inclusion, increasing the variety of representations.
  3. Disempowering and shaming persons of colour from the kink scene who already have a hard enough time processing it given the history of slavery.

Chair 1969 by Allen Jones born 1937Bad Reporting

A few stories seem to have missed that this is related to Allen Jones at all, whereas I – despite dodging Art History as much as possible while being educated – recognised it immediately. The reporting has also failed to note the piece’s history of controversy and its status as an iconic piece of Pop Art, perhaps the reason for using it in the shoot.

Jones was not a racy exploiter, but rather a cynic of what he saw as the increasing commodification of peoples lives and the sexual revolution of the 60s. The piece is a critique as much as a salacious parade of kink. A fact that was also missed by one feminist critic who attacked his ‘chair’ piece in 1986 by hurling paint stripper at it. This, and its standing as a piece of art, got it included in an exhibition at the Tate of art that had been attacked.

All of this is relevant, all of it gives context, all of it is lost under the cheap and (ironically) exploitative cry of ‘ZOMG RACIST!’

Outrage Culture

Art, writing, culture, photography (even/especially in commercial forms) – it all needs to be free to provoke thought, discussion and self examination. That’s been replaced by a simplistic ‘I’m offended’ and forced, insincere apologies. This is not healthy ground to be on, unable to talk, unable to think, unable to investigate or take the time to absorb and reflect.

Stop feeding it.

Read Full Post »

xlargeI’m sure you’ve seen that picture, above, doing the rounds. Many people seem to think it makes some clever point about gender, SF & Fantasy art and so on. I don’t particularly think that it does. The aim is, apparently, to show the silliness of the first cover by changing the genders around to create some kind of ‘aha’ moment in the viewer but in that task I can’t see that it succeeds. The humour here is not the ‘aha, look how ridiculously women are treated in art’ but rather the ‘haha’ of the pantomime dame or the incompetent transvestite. Its not funny because its a transposition its funny because its a bunch of unfit men in feminine poses. Tellingly, the woman in the supposedly ‘masculine’ pose doesn’t look silly, which rather demonstrates how one-sided this all can be.

The cover on the left is clearly a call-back to James Bond, steeped in reference and film and literary history. An actual reversal has been done in James Bond and wasn’t ridiculous. That was a genuine like for like substitution and, tellingly, it’s a) not funny and b) beloved by many women.

Any point that might be trying to be made is lost because of the stupidity and, yet again, all you end up with is a circle-jerk of the already convinced talking about how clever and meaningful it is. There are discussions to be had on this topic, but cheap and nonsensical stunts like this (and the other cover poses) that fail to take into account gender dimorphism, athleticism, reference etc and fail to do a like-for-like change don’t add anything to it other than being a jumping-off point for discussion.

If I had the skills to do it it might be interesting to do a genuine like-for-like substitution of the same cover, (Tom Daley might make a good swimwear substitute rather than out-of-shape writers) but alas I don’t.

comparison2

Read Full Post »

50-years-banner-edited-for-websiteI don’t know where this post is going to go, I just know I need to vent and to ‘re-balance my humours’.

In my own, small, relatively unsuccessful way I am what we might loosely call a ‘creative’.

Originally I wanted to be an artist, I’ve written for games, a comic, submitted to a few short story collections, published my own shit and worked with some pretty interesting and heavy people in my niche. I worry though, as I’m seeing a pattern across everything that I care about, games, journalism, art, writing of de facto censorship.

Several things have thrown this into sharp relief lately. The Dead Island Torso, Django’s use of the word ‘nigger‘ and violence, Kingdom Death’s Kickstarter, Julie Burchill and Suzanne Moore’s ongoing social/traditional media battle with transexuals.

The common thread is offence, outrage and censoriousness. Some people are taking all this as some sort of sign of a culture war that’s being won, they don’t seem to see what’s being lost or to understand that shutting people down is the opposite of liberation.

It used to be, once upon a time, that I could identify ‘hate speech’ easily. It was something that actively and meaningfully denigrated or encouraged/excused violence towards another human being. Now? Well, the term seems to be being interpreted so loosely as to have become virtually meaningless, a noise, the alarm thump of a particularly nervous rabbit. It’s applied to anything and everything, even a rather positive and jealous reference to Brazillian transexuals.

Huckleberry-FinnIn this environment that we’re creating where there is no longer a clear delineation between hate speech and just being obnoxious. Where everything you have ever said to anyone, ever, no matter how drunk or angry is recorded for posterity and taken to be your ‘true feelings’ what possible solution is there for someone who values freedom of expression than to shift to a more hard-line point of view that ANY AND ALL speech should be protected? Even ‘Jugend Raus’.

I don’t want to be an extremist but the extreme points of view of others, as they gain purchase, sometimes force me to adopt a more extreme position in order to effectively and meaningfully oppose them.

I just don’t know where this is going to end up. This hysterical mobbing is an extreme kind of conservatism that you normally only see from the religious right. It’s the moral equivalent of the WBC’s picketing and yet it’s pouring from the left to such an extent that sub-groups within it are tearing into each other in a macabre game of ‘more oppressed than thou’.

It’s heartbreaking.

‘Problematic’ is the word, isn’t it? That’s the label that’s used. The scarlet letter or the yellow star, the docked hand or the notched ear. The ‘she’s a witch!’ of the modern era.

‘This is problematic because REASONS’: whether those reasons are genuine, hold water or not.

The unspoken part is ‘and therefore shouldn’t exist’ but rather than going the legal route, social pressure is applied by the Twitterstorm or the Facebook campaign which whips up a seeming frenzy of opprobrium to the point where a single, throwaway, line in article about feminism ends up spawning an hour long debate on Channel Four news. The unthinking angry responses in one direction pass without comment but the unthinking angry response of the person being attacked is given no such free pass.

62599Fuck talking about ‘some people’. I’m ‘some people. I am interested in transgressive and controversial things. Not because of some deep-rooted ‘look at me!’ need to be edgy and shocking but because these are interesting psychological and artistic pressure points.

Tarantino challenging us with screen violence and the language of racism is interesting.

The attempt by Samuel L Jackson to get a white interviewer to say the word was also interesting.

A gory take on the Venus De Milo is interesting – and cheeky – and well within the confines of the horror genre.

Kingdom Death’s minis remind me of Clive Barker’s dream like imagination and highly sexual take on body horror.

People not batting an eyelid about the VP of the USA meeting with video game designers after a school massacre is very interesting (and worrying). How many studies do we need confirming there’s no link before people stop going after games as an easy target?

People and companies are being forced to apologise for and to withdraw things they should not feel bad about. They are being shamed no less than women get slut shamed. Projects will suffer as creative freedom is tamped down.

We had to fight a huge battle to stop the destruction of the erotica genre at the hands of ‘community standards’ by Paypal and this, broader, threat is no less ‘problematic’.

What’s more the fusses cause The Streisand Effect. As much as the fuss may harm the target it may also benefit them (financially if not emotionally). For me, certainly, the censorship directed at Tentacle Bento was an impetus to sink a fair chunk of money into their cause and should the special edition of Dead Island Riptide still get made I’m far more likely to buy one of those now too. Why? Because the fuss has made these things into fetish objects that represent a broader meaning. Tentacle Bento turned out to actually be tame as fuck, but the fact that I have it is as much a comment on who I am and what I believe in as the music in my computer, the clothes I wear, or the books that have pride of place on my shelf. The Dead Island torso would be the same. A totemic, physical representation of my commitment to free expression in all media. A middle finger to the Social Justice Sallies.

I want people to be free to explore the full gamut of human experience, fair and foul, in any medium. I want them to be free to express sentiments that I don’t agree with, even that I find horrifying and disgusting. I think the onus should be on the consumer to avoid that they don’t want to experience, not on the creator to cater to the whims of the most easily offended.

I hate that these sorts of fusses are making me second-guess myself, not because I don’t believe in the projects, not because I think they’re ‘bad’ but because I don’t know if I can marshal enough mental energy to deal with the inevitable haters. How is that good for anyone?

lady-chatterleys-loverI hate that just holding the position that people should be free to say things I don’t like is now, somehow, radical and contentious.

I don’t know what to do about it.

Maybe this.

Then again, the problem isn’t the law any more, it’s sanctimonious arseholes and their ability to shout, loudly. You can shout back but then you get decried as all sorts of terrible and untrue things and that takes its toll and taints you. It’s much the same as the way you’ll find more conspiracy theories and creationism on the internet than debunking and science because crazy people with a bug up their arse are more committed than sane and rational human beings who have other things to do.

The whole sad fuss just makes me want to cry but at the same time I don’t feel that I can leave it alone because that cedes the stage to the loonies.

I’d give up, but I can’t.

Pax

PS: I have selected images that represent celebrated causes and key moments in the battles over censorship and obscenity but I want to be absolutely clear that I do NOT think ‘quality’ should be a metric for what is permissible.

Read Full Post »

catch22A few conversations and discussions of late have thrown into additional light on the problems and discussions that have characterised 2012 for me. That is to say arguments about inclusion, tolerance, race, gender, depictions, sexuality etc as they relate to creative endeavours. For me this has mostly been in gaming, but more broadly this seems to be a hot topic across games, film, writing, everything.

Part of this is the hysteria and bandwagoning nature of social media acting as an amplifier, but it’s persistent enough across all media lately that I think it needs addressing.

It’s a huge goddamn issue and it straddles all manner of different topics like some bloated, Tolkienesque spider awaiting its prey. Worth a bash though.

TheComputerYou Can’t Create if You’re too Paranoid

It’s hard enough to create, unless you’re arrogant enough to think yourself infallible. Pretty much most people who are good creators – in any field – are riddled with self-doubt, second-guess themselves and fret constantly. Many are just good at hiding it.

It’s hard enough struggling with your own demons without having to take into account everyone else’s and the rapidity of modern interactive media means that every single word you write or image you draw is subject to enormous scrutiny and feedback with a laser-like focus it would not have attracted even ten years ago.

Accounting for any and every Tom, Dick and Harriet and their personal foibles and concerns is impossible and if you ignore it or minimalise it you’re going to get flak. You’re going to get flak anyway though so…

CaucasianAdventuresExclusion/Appropriation

If you happen to be white and/or male and/or straight and/or anything else perceived rightly or wrongly as being a position of privilege and you create, you’re stuffed. If you ‘write what you know’ you’ll be accused of being racist, sexist, homomisiac and any number of other things whether you write about them or not.

If you leave these things out you’re *ist by exclusion. If you include them you’re *ist because of the mistakes you’ll be perceived to make. You’re damned if you don’t and you’re appropriating cultures, minorities etc if you do.

close-but-no-cigarMore Right-on than Thou

Even if you do your absolute best to be a right-on, ‘politically correct’, progressive and enlightened 21st century human being it will never, ever, ever be good enough as someone else will be out to prove their chops by being even more progressive and right-on than you are and by making you out to be an evil cunt. Here’s a really good example of someone super-progressive being monstered in a perverse game of one-upmanship.

muhammad_cartoonYou Are to Blame for your Audience

Your intent and even your execution on a topic doesn’t matter. a jot. What seems to matter is the reaction your audience has to it. Of late this kind of argument seems to have been centred around Tarantino’s ‘Django Unchained’ wherein some people are worried/concerned and upset about the racism in it.

Racism all but confined to villains who get their comeuppance.

Racism which is in no way presented as being a ‘good thing’.

Racism which is funny because it is absurd and extreme.

Of course a few no-chin, redneck, white-supremacy types are going to get a kick out of the word ‘nigger’ and black characters being terrorise but that’s on them. Not the creator of the material. It’s unreasonable to hold the creator accountable for every single reaction to their work.

stjeromeDeath of the Author

It doesn’t seem to matter what you think you’ve made. Those who choose to analyse your work will presume they know your intentions better than you do and will ascribe motivations and reasons to you themselves, without listening to what you have to say about it. just because you made a thing doesn’t seem to mean you know anything about it.

6obeSatire is Dead

Someone will take what you say seriously and as if you meant it. This happens to The Onion all the time and is a part of ‘Poe’s Law’. Parody will be taken seriously by someone, somewhere and what’s serious can also be taken for parody. The two can be almost indistinguishable (reference the Westboro Baptist Church for an example).

Once someone’s failed to understand that what a piece is, is satire they often still won’t back down when this is pointed out. Again they may claim that this is some sort of reflection of your subconscious prejudice or, simply, that it ‘isn’t funny’ or ‘isn’t well done’. It’s never that the person has no sense of humour or that they’re embarrassed that they didn’t ‘get it’. Oh no.

sign-brownest-thingContext Doesn’t Seem to Matter

Are you writing an historical piece? Drawing an image from a fantasy or science-fictional society with different morals and social mores? Is the material we’re discussing from fifty years ago, a hundred, more?

Doesn’t matter. If something is offensive it always is and it doesn’t matter if its historically accurate or a preservation of old attitudes for cultural and historical reasons (Nigger Jim anyone?) It’s bad and wrong and will be used as a stick to beat you with.

There’s also the problem that a statement you make in the heat of an argument with a douchebag or off the cuff in a moment of humour now lives forever on the internet and will be relentlessly quote-mine forever and ever even if you change your mind over time or you’re being misrepresented. Sometimes these quotes will even be completely made up! IT doesn’t matter!

Solutions?

There’s no easy solutions here as, in the main, the problems lie with other people. I think a starting point to dealing with the problems above are:

  • Surround yourself with people you respect to give you feedback: Not necessarily people who agree with you, but people whose dissent you can acknowledge and take seriously. Not YouTube commentators.
  • Understand your own values: Other people are going to judge you by theirs, but what are yours? Are you a libertine or a moralising conservative? Do you value verisimilitude or comfort? Do you want to be unflinching or accommodating? To thine own self be true and if people want work that meets other criteria, they can damn well do it themselves. What’s your hierarchy of interests and concerns? You can’t cover EVERYTHING.
  • Publish & be Damned: Do it anyway. Fuck ’em.

Read Full Post »

Dear Internet,

Would it fucking kill you to treat me like a grown-up from time to time? You hit sixteen, eighteen and twenty-one and you’re promised that now you’re an adult. You can fuck, drink, smoke, drive and die for your country but apparently in the world of internet media if you like to look at boobs or willies – still or in motion – you’re persona non-grata and you’re ghettoised.

If you write erotica, or porn, let’s not be up ourselves, you have problems getting your stuff listed, sold and paid for. The mainstream payment processors don’t like to be tainted with your ‘filth’, despite the money and try to insist you go through special payment processors because of the ‘risk’.

Want to sell adult material on a big sales or auction site? You’re going to have issues and without big, central clearing houses for this stuff you end up with a diaspora to less well run, less well engineered, less credible and less legit sites which damages business potential and increases – not decreases – the risk of fraud and technical issues.

Then all these social sites are bringing it to a head. Even though you have to opt in to watch/see rude stuff on G+ or Facebook you’re not really given the option. A few places get away with it on G+ but there are some people who seem to live only to flag material as inappropriate, when they could just mute/uncircle/unfollow it.

Killjoys.

What’s brought this to a head lately is the treatment of Moan Lisa on G+. Repeatedly banned, suspended, pictures flagged and that’s not even a porno feed but rather an art one. Who cares if there are porn feeds on there anyway and why draw this imaginary, stupid line between art and pornography in the first place?

We’re grown-ups now, we can choose what we want to see and whether that’s Disney characters having a tea party or wall-to-wall Goatse leave it up to us thanks. Google image search doesn’ discriminate so why not let pervs, artists and writters enjoy themselves?

No love,

Grim

Read Full Post »

Some covers…

Covers for two more of my short stories.

I’m working on others.

There will be an eventual collection, title as yet unknown, but collecting all these ‘neo-pulp’ works together.

Then I’m going to take the plunge on a full length novel.

Mimsy is going to take a lot more editing/rewriting than I thought. So may be a little while coming.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »