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Does Pornography Qualify as Art?

Posted: December 7th, 2012, 4:14 pm
by Supine
Does pornography qualify as art?

First, let me propose that pornography is voyeurism. I'll offer the TheFreeDictionary explanation of the predominate use and therefore current meaning of that term. I hope one does not disapprove I have not linked something along the lines of a Oxford dictionary explanation of the word. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/voyeurism

What is interesting here - perhaps overlapping with a philosophy of psychology inquiry - is that the typical person would feel abnormal and think himself acting unethically if he indulged in the voyeurism we term "Peeping Tom," but he feels perfectly fine and within appropriate boundaries to indulge in the viewing of pornography. Here by pornography I am largely referring to the cinematic kind.

But perhaps the typical person - and his culture at large - tend to arrive at the conclusion pornography is art and therefore qualitatively different from the "Peeping Tome" indulgence? Cinematic porn does after all make a claim to using actors and actresses, scripts, and theatrics.

But if pornography is indeed an art what kind of art is it, and are the effects positive or good? Can pornography when judged from a secular point of analysis even be an amoral or a-ethical issue?

Re: Does Pornography Qualify as Art?

Posted: December 7th, 2012, 5:41 pm
by Belinda
Certainly pornography is art, and inferior holday snaps are art. Neither a pornographic photo nor a holday snapshot is a work of art unless displaying superior craftsmanship and depth of meaning.

The intention of the pornographer and the intention of the holiday photographer are usually superficial. Pornography is as lacking in meaning as holiday snaps even although pornography can stimulate sexual lust. This fact alone does not make pornography fail as work of art, but pornography does fail as work of art unless it is is skilled in execution and also meaningfull. Explicitness is boring unless it is aimed at instruction e.g. how to bake bread, or how to get from here to there.

Re: Does Pornography Qualify as Art?

Posted: December 7th, 2012, 6:08 pm
by HANDSON
One might compare cinematic pornography, which I suspect is produced primarily to market blatant sexual exposure, with artwork that approaches the pornographic such as Robert Mapplethorpe's homoerotic photographs. Mapplethorpe's work, while displaying what some might consider distasteful subject matter, exhibits artistic strengths of composition, color and texture. I would be inclined to call Mapplethorpe's photos good art, although I don't find them particularly engaging personally.

Re: Does Pornography Qualify as Art?

Posted: December 7th, 2012, 6:23 pm
by Supine
Handson, I did a quick online browse over Mapplethorpe's homoerotic photographs and I would have to agree with you, I find his work to fall under fine photography. Very artistic but erotic.

Belinda, I tried internet searching "holday snaps" and "holiday photography" but in by brief browsing I'm not sure I was being directed to or looking at what you were referring too. So I still remain a little lost as to what your comparisons were/are.

Re: Does Pornography Qualify as Art?

Posted: December 7th, 2012, 10:41 pm
by Nick_A
In order to answer the question if pornography is art, you must first define art and how it is distinguished from expression. No one would argue that pornograhy isn't an expression. The question is the difference between art and expression and how pornograpy fits into the distinction.

Re: Does Pornography Qualify as Art?

Posted: December 8th, 2012, 6:03 am
by Belinda
Supine,I am very old, and so to me 'holiday snaps' are what people do when they take pictures of themselves on pleasure boats, or sunning on a beach etc. with a real camera. I hesitated before I compared pornography with this rather old fashioned hobby but could not think of some other relatively unskilled popular art type hobby. I think people still photograph on their mobile phone things but those images are even more ephemeral I suppose than paper photographs.

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Nick_A, I think it is useful to differentiate between 'art' and 'work of art'. The former is descriptive without evaluation and the latter is mostly evaluative. In my experience this is how the two expressions are variously used.

Re: Does Pornography Qualify as Art?

Posted: December 8th, 2012, 9:59 am
by Misty
[quote="Belinda"]Supine,I am very old, and so to me 'holiday snaps' are what people do when they take pictures of themselves on pleasure boats, or sunning on a beach etc. with a real camera. I hesitated before I compared pornography with this rather old fashioned hobby but could not think of some other relatively unskilled popular art type hobby. I think people still photograph on their mobile phone things but those images are even more ephemeral I suppose than paper photographs.

**************

Hi Belinda,

Another comparison could be body parts photographed for medical books verses sex text. Images in medical books need to be professional for clarity but could be seen as pornographic in nature. Sex text pics would be poor quality.

Re: Does Pornography Qualify as Art?

Posted: December 8th, 2012, 11:44 am
by HANDSON
Hey Belinda;

I understood what you meant by 'holiday snaps', so I guess I must be really old too.

Re: Does Pornography Qualify as Art?

Posted: December 8th, 2012, 2:22 pm
by Jklint
Certainly Picasso would have thought so!

Re: Does Pornography Qualify as Art?

Posted: December 8th, 2012, 3:47 pm
by Supine
Belinda, I thought Nick_A might have brought up a possibly good point.

With that in mind, what do you think of the position of feminist that object to porn as degrading to women, and that might take umbrage at your equating it to "holiday snaps"?
Again, I'm thinking less photographic than the types shot on film. Even that is too broad I suppose as even the cinematic has different genres of porn.

The former "Red Shoes Diary" (I think put out by HBO) would be on the softcore end. Some of the porn done by the Mormon and former Utah girl that goes by the name Bella Donna would be more on the hardcore end. She started crying during a news interview by the way (she now also has herpes - something I hear from hearsay that is rather common in the U.S. porn industry, but I suppose that is not relevant to the topic questions under discussion).

Close to porn would be the controversy over U.S. made rap videos that have scantly dressed women dancing provocatively. There have been women (and some men) condemning it as projecting women as sex objects.

But can porn ever be only an amoral and a-ethical issue in the secular world if in fact it is only art? Currently, even photo images of girls in bathing suits are not allowed in work places and I doubt even this online philosophy site allows links and images from web porn sites.

Re: Does Pornography Qualify as Art?

Posted: December 8th, 2012, 3:55 pm
by Spiral Out
I think pornography is only as artful as it's intended purpose and where it will translate as such to the viewer. It's a mutual effort.

Re: Does Pornography Qualify as Art?

Posted: December 8th, 2012, 6:20 pm
by Fleetfootphil
I don't see anything stopping porn from being artful or art.

Re: Does Pornography Qualify as Art?

Posted: December 8th, 2012, 8:57 pm
by Simply Wee
"The difference between pornography and erotica is lighting." Without which art would not qualify. I guess.

Re: Does Pornography Qualify as Art?

Posted: December 9th, 2012, 3:37 am
by A Poster He or I
I understand that in late Victorian times, the nudes produced by French neo-classicist painter William Bouguereau were sometimes kept behind a curtain in rooms reserved for men who would then be given something akin to a peep-show. There are very few who would disagree that these were art. I've beheld 2 of these paintings with my own eyes (no curtain involved) and they are magical in their skill.

I can only support the idea that intent is critical to assessment. That's why "holiday snaps" aren't art, and why erotica can sometimes be fine art.

Re: Does Pornography Qualify as Art?

Posted: December 9th, 2012, 5:56 am
by UniversalAlien
por·nog·ra·phy [pawr-nog-ruh-fee]
noun obscene writings, drawings, photographs, or the like, especially those having little or no artistic merit.
There is an old expression: "one man's medicine is another man's poison".

Here is an new expression: "One man's {or women's} art is another persons pornography.

I have seen films considered pornographic {Devil in Miss Jones, Deep Throat, etc., etc.}. Some were {and they tell me still are} more artistic than others. To me none that I saw were pornographic. BUT every time I watch a 'Soap-Opera' so popular with the mass audience, I see pornography - To me negative interactions exposing the negative side of human emotions is obscene. Other forms of so called Cinematic Art, say "The Exorcist" for example, or those films about chain saw murders and/or any of the garbage composing the Horror film genre is obscene. degrading to human consciousness and, to use the term formerly reserved for defining obscenity, 'has no redeeming social value'.

If you want to define pornography as obscene then I suppose you would agree with the viewpoint of some religions that all human life is conceived in sin. That viewpoint to me is an abomination. On the other hand in Eastern religions you have such philosophies as Tantra Yoga where sex is a way to the devine.

In conclusion I would say that the word pornography, because it has a negative connotation to many, is hard to define as art BUT when we magically change the word to Erotica suddenly it is art :!: