A Naked Truth

Posted: February 5, 2011 in Desire, Masculinities, metrosexuality, Porn, Uncategorized

http://tomasshawkke.blogspot.com/2010/08/change-of-season.html#comments

Tomass Hawke is naked. He bares all in photos that he takes himself, in the beautiful rustic environment of Canada’s wilderness countryside. Sometimes, like in the picture here, he uses interiors as a backdrop. Dusty shacks he seems to have just stumbled across on his wanderings.

I find the images transfixing, because they are so joyful and natural. He celebrates the male form in an old-fashioned way, maybe as Whitman might have envisaged it, or even classical painters and sculptors. Somehow, in this mediated, metrosexual world, where the male body is used to sell everything from gym membership to sunglasses to cars, Hawke makes it seem ‘authentic’ (but nothing is ever quite what it seems, is it?).

Tom Clark, a photographer himself, agrees, saying:

‘Not being able to see these elsewhere I come back to them here. I could download them of course but I like seeing them at home in your world, surrounded by the rest of your artwork and the comments they stimulate.

Something about you remains a mystery to me. One assumes that the showing of a cock, of balls and of a sex hole means that we’ve seen it all, that the veils have been lifted and the inner sanctum exposed. In reality, all you’ve done by pulling your pants down and showing us your stuff is showing to us the same things we all have and know well.

So if we’re looking in a mirror when we’re looking at you then why the strong response within us? Why does my heart race when I look at pictures of you but not when I look at pictures of myself like that?

Somewhere buried in the subtle ethereal vibrations of your imagery is something powerful and different. You get my attention by showing me things I want to see – you’re never coy about it at all. You get my attention with your sense of humour and with your playfulness. What lies beneath is unspoken though, either by choice or by your inability to sound the words. And that’s the stuff that gets to me every single time in every single image.

Be all of that as it may, it’s still a ton of fun to look at that beautiful body of yours and enjoy a little bit of your playtime with you. Keep it up!’

Clark’s comments sum up something I feel about looking at the male body. That it is still somehow a ‘mystery’. Even though our visual culture is now saturated with images of men, the male form has a mystery about it that the female form never has had, and never will possess.

Pictures of naked women are just pictures of naked women. Playboy. Porno. Page 3. When women are objectified their bodies become merely the sum of their parts- tits. ass. cunt. legs. But no matter how much we objectify men, we still seem to see them. As people.

Photographs of naked men, if they are good photos, as these are, make us squint and concentrate. They make us want to know who that person is? How does he feel? What does it mean that he is stood there, his cock displayed so proudly. Is he about to come? Is he in pain or ecstasy? Is he really alone? Or is someone else there, off-camera? Who is desiring whom?

The images are familiar and yet, as Clark has written, also surprising, beguiling. They speak something that can’t be spoken in words.

I don’t know why this is. I don’t know why masculinity laid bare like this evokes such reactions in us all. Maybe it is because it is still not supposed to? That if we look at men as objects like this, we are somehow unearthing something secret and shameful about ourselves? Even now. But we can’t take our eyes off him can we. We can’t. stop. looking. And looking implicates us. Looking at men is queer. Maybe because they always seem to be looking back at us. I wonder what they see.

Update: Here is an interaction between me and Tomass about whether or not his work should be classed as ‘porn’:

Hi Tomass
I love your work.
I am interested to know why you reject the ‘porn’ label though.You are a great photographer/artist. But is it so bad that some people see your pics and just find them sexy/horny?

Can’t you make arty porn? Or pornographic art?

Mapplethorpe did!


Hello Elly.Thank you for your comment.

I don’t feel inclined to attach any label to my work, particularly one that refers to mindless commercial pulp produced solely for the purpose of making money. A picture does not have to be “porn” to be erotic, and most “porn” is completely bereft of eroticism.

http://www.tomsbodypix.com/

http://tomasshawkke.blogspot.com/2010/08/change-of-season.html#comments

 

Comments
  1. kimboosan says:

    Ha! I just discovered his work myself, via tumblr. Amazing, simply amazing – I agree, it’s hard to put into words what makes his photography so unique among the (literally) hundreds of photos of naked men I see on tumblr every day, but the moment I laid (heh) eyes on his work I knew it was something completely different.

    Glad to see he’s getting more exposure…so to speak.😉

    ::::kbs

  2. I love how the eminent photographer, Tom Clark, has a crush on the work of the ‘semi-amateur’ young photographer, Tomass.

    It is kind of Greek in its dynamic. Or am I reading too much into things, again?

  3. He is really taking the piss with his ‘it’s not porn’ thing though- this is called ‘the loneliness of the wrong season rimmer’!

    http://tomasshawkke.blogspot.com/2010/01/loneliness-of-wrong-season-rimmer.html

    it is as if being ‘knowing’ and ‘ironic’ or ‘arty’ makes it not porn. I don’t buy it boys.

  4. And this is how some feminists interpret my ‘homoerotics’…

    http://toomuchtosayformyself.com/2011/01/31/advertising-misogyny/

    ”FAB Libber | February 5, 2011 at 7:10 pm |

    You contradict yourself QRG. From your blog:
    When women are objectified their bodies become merely the sum of their parts- tits. ass. cunt. legs. But no matter how much we objectify men, we still seem to see them. As people.
    So cut the ‘menz are victims too’ crap (above).

    So if we’re looking in a mirror when we’re looking at you [naked man with cock] then why the strong response within us? Why does my heart race when I look at pictures of you but not when I look at pictures of myself like that?
    If you have a cock, then you are NOT a girl.
    Take your gender queer bullshit and put it where the sun don’t shine”

  5. Mark says:

    He doesn’t want his work to be called ‘porn’ because that would be VULGAR…. His dilated asshole isn’t like any other dilated asshole. It’s art.

    • But if it is the money that makes it vulgar why does he sell calendars and glossy photos featuring his arty arsehole?

      and if its not the money what is it? The ‘common’ ness of porn? It’s high-brow low-brow snobbery.

  6. Mark says:

    Yes. It’s snobbery and vanity.

  7. but I get the impression Tom Clark the eminent photographer may have had a bit of a moment with these photos….

  8. markwoff says:

    i’m not sure the distinction you draw between photos of masc/fem bits holds up (if you’ll excuse the phrase). “good photos, as these are, make us squint and concentrate” is all one need to say.

    • Hi Mark
      well the distinction between photos of men and of women is the whole point of my post!

      Do you have a photo of a naked woman you can send me that makes you ‘squint and concentrate’ and think about the woman, beyond her body? I’d love to see it!

  9. elflojo84 says:

    Much as the debate on whether this is porn or not is interesting, it isn’t one I fancy having my boss – any chance of “Not Work Safe” labels for posts illustrated with erect penises…?

    I totally don’t get your point about naked women and naked men being treated in differetn ways though. I’m not into photography and know absolutely nothing about it and can’t come up with examples, but visual artists have depicted the naked female form in an ‘arty’ rather than erotic way for centuries, I find it hard to believe modern photographers don’t.

    • its prob best to assume I am NSFW elflojo, i dont do ‘Health and safety warnings’ on my posts!

      if you know nothing of photography you may have to take my word for it…

      • elflojo84 says:

        Well I may, but it does seem incredibly counter-intuitive, and to be honest I’m not willing to.

        “Pictures of naked women are just pictures of naked women. Playboy. Porno. Page 3. When women are objectified their bodies become merely the sum of their parts – tits. ass. cunt. legs. But no matter how much we objectify men, we still seem to see them. As people.”

        I don’t see where you draw this conclusion from. Yes ‘objectification’ (I hate that word, but I think you’re not using it in the manner which makes me hate it so accept the term for the purpose of this debate….) happens more to females than males, but I don’t see it happening in a fundamentally different way. It’s a suspension of disbelief – when I see Lucy Pinder with her tits out in Zoo it turns me on because she’s attractive. I don’t think about her as a person, at that point, because it isn’t relevent or important. If I read in the paper that Lucy Pinder had had a baby I would feel happiness for her, or if I heard she had cancer I’d feel sympathy, because in that moment her feelings / emotions are relevent.

        It wouldn’t be any different for David Beckham. If I see his rippling abs in Cosmo I don’t react sexually because rippling abs don’t affect me sexually – there’s be some sort of base reaction, possibly a slight jealousy, based on the physical image in front of me, but again, I wouldn’t be thinking about the entirity of him as a person. But again, if I heard on the news he had had a baby or contracted cancer I would react empethatically to either of those. I don’t see a fundamental difference between how we react to men and women.

        “Photographs of naked men, if they are good photos, as these are, make us squint and concentrate. They make us want to know who that person is? How does he feel? What does it mean that he is stood there, his cock displayed so proudly. Is he about to come? Is he in pain or ecstasy? Is he really alone? Or is someone else there, off-camera? Who is desiring whom?”

        Again, I dont’ know phtoography, but I don’t see why this cannot or is not applied to women.

  10. I am not sure why I just know it is different somehow. I will ask Mark he will know…

    • typhonblue says:

      Maybe it’s the intersection between two competing impulses.

      On the one hand naked men are beautiful and inspire desire(value) in us, but on the other we expect a man to create his value through action.

      Maybe the juxtaposition of the man’s obvious innate value and our expectation that he earn value creates an intriguing paradox?

  11. Clarence says:

    Typhon:

    Let me just say I’m glad you are safe. I kinda got the gist of what happened at FC..people were worried about you. But you really can’t change some people’s minds.

  12. Erotic imagery is crafted with story and characters and kindles a sexual response; pornography is manufactured by formula and apt to cause drowsiness. Perhaps it could be said that an artist creates erotica, and a businessman/woman produces pornography. At any rate, I did not attribute vulgarity to either.

    I’m not sure where you got the notion that I feel my work, or any art, should not inspire a sexual response. I attempt to present images that are unapologetically sexual and thus I am honoured and gratified by Mr. Clark’s generous words. That my images would provoke a response or stir lustful thoughts and feelings is an incredible compliment taken to heart.

    Labelling a sexual image “pornography” is like apologizing for being natural.

  13. Hi Tomass thanks for passing through!

    I am sorry if I misrepresented your own approach to your work. Thanks for the clarification.

    I don’t see ‘pornography’ as you do though. I write and edit pornography (written form) and I know others who make porn -films, art, literary, and they use the ‘p’ word when they don’t make money out of it, and they do not cause ‘drowsiness’ either!

  14. There are fine artists creating stunning work, some of which teases my libido and warms my loins (I won’t go there). Their nomenclature for their work is their business – my feelings pertain to my work.

    If you can reclaim the word “pornography” from the righteous, who tend to spit it with such indignation and distaste, attempting to soil and shame something that can be incredibly beautiful, good on you.

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