WARNING: This blog contains images that some people might find offensive. If you are one of these people then do not look any further….you have been warned.
It seems that me and Larry Flynt are the same. We pedel pornographic images. I guess that Mr Flynt does it deliberately and makes an awful lot of money from it. Me, well I’m just some unfortunate fool who assumed that people can tell the difference between art and smut (There is a whole Phd theses there and no doubt have already been published just on this subject). This is over blown but it is the way I feel.
At the beginning of this year I started making digital painting’s of the female form, sorry body. Now looking back some of these works were more successful than others but I felt I need to share this with world. I had also posted the result of my life drawing classes which again were of variable quality but were all nude forms both male and female.
You could argue whether that was a wise thing to do given the variable nature of the results but I couldn’t see there was anything wrong as they were clearly digital paintings or photographs of drawings and painting I had made of the female and male form rather than pictures of nude men and women or in anyway pornographic.
Today I found out that I was wrong. The Flickr “Abuse & Advocacy team” have written to me to tell me that in fact I was publishing items in the wrong categories, it seems that pictures containing Full Frontal nudity should be categorised as Restricted where as bare breasts and bottoms should be categorised as Moderate. Now I have to admit I didn’t even know that there was any such restrictions on Flickr uploads. However, it does raise some interesting questions and I will try and touch on these with reference to some of the images that clearly have caused offence to someone – you only get these warnings because…’ If you don’t apply filters correctly, there’s a very good chance another member will let us know – in fact that’s why we’ve taken action today….’ If that person or persons happens to read this blog then let me say I am sorry if I have caused you offence – it was never my intention.
Anyway the images…I do hope you have a strong stomach
As you can see this is a painting of one of the most famous sculptures ever made – Michelangelo’s David. Clearly given full frontal nature of the sculpture then this should have been classified as Restricted. Now you can discuss the relevant strengths and weaknesses of the painting but should we really have to Restrict a painting of one of the most famous sculptures because it is a full frontal nude? Clearly the answer is Yes.
I guess this is a little trickier…bare breasts are visible but the bottom is not so is this Moderate or should it classified as Restricted content after all …”A good rule of thumb is, bare breasts and bottoms are “moderate.” But she is nude, albeit not full frontal so should this be Restricted or Moderate or what? Or perhaps it is just an artistic painting and so not have any restrictions placed on it. Clearly not.
This image is somewhat more difficult. I must admit I wasn’t happy with the way it was turning out so decided to pixellate the full frontal nude in the mirror. Clearly the bottom is visible – so should be moderate – yet pixellated body? If I had have known about the image categorisation policy I guess I would have chosen Moderate. Do abstract paintings of a nude woman count as Restricted?
Again this should be a moderate as the breasts and bottom is visible. Lets forget that it is actually a painting celebrating the beauty of pregnancy. Again we can argue about the over the quality of the work but …
Another attempt at painting the female form which of course must be Restricted as it mets the criteria. However, what is wrong with seeing the female form like this anymore than seeing the painting of David? Neither of them are in anyway pornographic yet they have to be hidden away.
I guess this is what I find more worrying. Not that Flickr has a filter policy but rather that they seem to be incapable of differentiate between an attempt at artistic expression and images produced for pornographic purposes. I can detect a lawyer’s hand at work here. Rather than trying to do so and getting it wrong, thus opening the company up to all sorts of legal challenge much better take the low risk approach – if in doubt Restrict.
Perhaps we should not look at nude paintings at all, if this were the case then the world’s great art galleries would be very empty. The question is are any of the images likely to deprave or corrupt anyone? I would argue not but clearly I am wrong.
I am not angry about what Flickr has done and I understand what they are trying to achieve it is just that the blanket approach is a form of censorship which really makes us all the losers. Not because we cannot enjoy my digital paintings or other art works but because it is a slippery slope and if we are not careful it can lead to some very strange places. Places that I suspect most people would not wish to visit.
One final thing. Take a look at these images
Both images show one animal killing another. Both are very graphic but yet are depictions of the true nature of life for most of the creatures on this planet – brutal, short and ending in their consumption by an another animal higher up the food chain. Some may well find these images disturbing yet both have been on Flickr for a while now without any comment or complaint. It could be argued that brutality and violence is being tolerated whilst artistic attempts are not. It is very difficult not to see things that way.
So what should I do? After thinking about this for a while I’ve decided to close down my Flickr account, in part because of this but also because I feel it has out lived its usefulness. However, it is a sad day.