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Art and Photography

Dr Ann Brown quotes, “the notion of photographic truth hinges on the idea that the camera is an objective device for the capturing of reality [yet] photographic images are highly subjective cultural and social artifacts that are influenced by the range of human belief, bias and expression(Mary and Pelfrey 25)”. In simple explanation, the theory means that there is a profound difference between physical experiences, those that we do name reality, to that of photography. This is evident when one compares a photograph to an imagined reaction of an experience that it intends to record. This can be showed clearly using examples that relate to this theory.

A good example is Diane Arbus’ work (1923-1971), which stresses the theory. Arbus, who was born in New York to a wealthy family, grew up to be a very successful and known photographer for Vogue and Cosmopolitan magazines. Later on in life, she started thinking of the fashion models and other people as freaks. This made her think of the other people who society branded as freaks. She ended up spending time photographing a genetic giant by the name Edie Carmel and his normal sized parents.

Diane Arbus also did photography in various fields inclusive of nudity. One of her greatest photographs is the portrait of a dwarf, Lauro Morales, in a hotel in New York. He posed on the hotel bed naked except his hat. His genitals covered with only a white towel, his left arm resting on the bed side next to a bottle of whisky, he gazed directly to the to the camera, adamantly refusing to look else where. Another good example is an image by Benedict J. Fernandez, which illustrated the same concept. The image, Pentagon Demonstration, Washington D.C. – November 1967, had an objective intent but was subjective in reality. The photographer made the black soldiers look much more threatening as compared to the white soldiers who seemed inept. Without the background information of the image, a person would think the photographer was trying to express his feelings about the war and his perspective on soldiers.

The Male Gaze in a simple concept can be explained in film. Film women were viewed typically as objects, instead of being viewed as possessors of gaze from the control of the camera. This may have come about because of some factors. They may include assumptions that the intended default target audiences for the films or paintings were heterosexual men. A good example is the image The Making of an Amazon Utopia. In the view from its original and an unaltered form, the background seems like Paradise Island. The women in the picture are splashing water around, playing together and the main character of the image is reading happily holding a glass of wine and fruits beside her. The items are most often associated with wealth and leisure (Mary and Pelfrey 50).

Diana the main character of the image had her cleavage exposed, her eyelids were half way through her eyes and her legs were slightly spread apart and raised. This clearly expresses the Male Gaze. European Orientalism is how the European images of the East were drawn, used and contested from nothing less far from simplicity. This included images from Turkey, Greece and the Middle East. An example is the Odalisque in Grisaille, (1824–34) drawn by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. The portrait did not receive admiration in 1819 in Paris salon, as critics considered the anatomical distortions to be very extravagant and the Turkish accessories considered it to be out of fashion.

Works Cited

Pelfrey, Robert, and Mary Hall-Pelfrey. Art and Mass Media. New York: Harper & Row, 1985. Print.

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