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A photographic investigation of sexual imagery in the Australian mainstream media
thesisposted on 2023-05-27, 18:36 authored by Robinson, Peter Angus
My Masters project is a photographic investigation into sexualised images, as distinct from the images of sex that are readily available to those who wish to seek them out. At the heart of this project is schaulust, a Swiss word coined by Sigmund Freud in Five Lectures on Psychoanalysis in 1910. According to Alainde Mijolla in the essay Scoptophila/Scopophila an approximate translation of schaulust is the pleasure in looking. However, a fuller description would also include the pleasure of being looked upon and to a certain degree, the shame of the enjoyment of looking. My project concerns the pleasure of looking and the shame that is sometimes attached to that pleasure. This project seeks also to discuss the role context plays in both self-censorship and censorship in the wider sense, imposed on individuals when viewing sexualized images. The issue of context is also reviewed in relation to how the artist's intention for an image affects its reading by the viewer. This project is also the visual manifestation of my conflicted attitudes towards sexualized images and the objectification of women. On the one hand I derive great pleasure from looking at images of sex and in particular, visual representations of the sexuality of women. However, I don't think of women primarily as sex objects and I disapprove of ideology and imagery that promotes that view. I have the highest regard for women as fellow humans, colleagues, friends and family. Growing up black in London in the Seventies taught me a lot about the harm that stereotyping on the basis of physical characteristics does. As a consequence I have strong aversion to stereotyping of any description. However, I am a heterosexual visually-led artist who is aroused by sexualized images of women, this fact means that by default a certain amount of objectification is inherent in what \turns me on\" therefore it would be hypocritical of me not to acknowledge it. This internal dichotomy is exacerbated by the fact that I am the father of three young girls and even though they are all years away from puberty it is my fervent wish that these children grow to be healthy happy strong young women with few \"hang ups\" sexual or otherwise. Consequently it is necessary for me to now question my thoughts on the sexualization of the world around them in relation to their continuing emotional health and my voyeuristic tendencies. In investigating sexual imagery I chose to explore images that we encounter on a daily basis. By \"we\" I mean the community that I live in and with whom I share a common visual space. It is a space littered with billboards multi-media screens television screens back ends of buses posters magazine covers flyers and graffiti. Much of this space contains images that are overtly sexual or otherwise erotically charged. The main criterion I have chosen for photographically documenting these sexualized images is that they be free to air or in full public view. My reasoning for this stipulation is that like sexualized imagery pornographic imagery is readily available and can be found in huge amounts: on the Internet in video libraries and in adult entertainment stores. However the nature of these outlets means one has to actively seek access in order to see the pornographic imagery. In the case of the World Wide Web I know that it is possible to browse and unintentionally find pornography but it is also possible to effectively block further such accidents. Therefore as a consequence of the ability to choose pornography is not as important to this project as our inability to choose to see other sexualized imagery in the public domain. This investigation through the use of isolation reflection and repetition is also an attempt to show the more subtle ways that the advertising and entertainment industries suggest that we are a society driven by the sexual impulse."
Rights statementCopyright 2010 the author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (MFA)--University of Tasmania, 2010. Includes bibliographical references