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$752 pledged of $3,250 goal
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About this project

The nude is a deeply ingrained form of human expression — the oldest piece of ‘art’ is an abstract female nude, the Venus of Hohle Fels — and most recorded civilizations have tolerated, if not embraced the art nude. Yet, the nude is something that we, in the modern world, struggle to find comfort with, as a creative expression.

The Project 

For the past two years, I've been traveling the country to interview artists of all sorts whose work focuses on the human figure. Dozens of photographers, models, painters, actors and mixed-media artists have spoken with me as I've explored this question of the societal reaction to the art nude and how those reactions impact the experiences and identities of those currently involved in creating and/or experiencing art through oral histories.

The Installation 

Bare: Conversations on Human Art was selected by the exhibition jury of The Carrack Modern Art - a non-commercial community-focused gallery space on historic Parrish Street, in downtown Durham, North Carolina. The installation, on public view August 12–23, 2014, will include:

  • a display of my art nude photography (my first formal 'solo' exhibition),
  • 4-6 multimedia installations playing different snippets from the interviews, discussing the role of nudity in contemporary art, society’s reaction to it, the male gaze, gender roles and the impact of sexuality on art and what impact that has on emerging and established artists, amongst other topics, and 
  • ‘Confessional’ – a chance for the audience members to contribute to the conversation, by recording 5 minutes of their own thoughts and reactions – perhaps to be displayed on its own video monitor, which fills as the exhibit continues.

The Interaction

In addition to the items on display, the Carrack will host interactive events, related to the displays, potentially including:

  • ‘Panels’ – an informal setting, in which artists and a moderator, an ‘expert,’ etc, have a round-table conversation, along with the audience. The broad themes of the project may be discussed, but it should new ground, not retread what’s already on the wall. Scheduled for August 17.
  • ‘Office hours’ – wherein a model, an artist, an historian, a social/cultural expert, an antipornography activist, a body image counselor, etc all will have the chance to hold sway, on their own, to provide a brief, prepared set of remarks and then have a conversation with the audience for 20-30 minutes. 
  • ‘Soliloquy’ — a chance for curators, artists, activists, models, audience members, etc, who were not formally interviewed the chance to speak, live, before an audience (for 5 mins), potentially on the final night of the show, August 23. 
  • ‘Nude photoshoot as performance art’— a real, live art nude shoot, using a tethered DSLR, so the audience not only gets the behind-the-scenes glimpse of the creative process, but also the “finished product.” Likely August 17, 2014.

Speak Up, Be Heard 

Art is a participatory experience; even the act of simply observing a photograph, painting or sculpture is interacting… and a vital interaction, because, without the viewer, there is no purpose in making art.

Accordingly, though the artists' stories are vital to Bare: Conversations on Human Art, the participation of audience members is equally important to me, as this is truly a conversation.

How Will my Contribution Be Used? 

A vast majority of the expenses of the exhibition (printing, mounting, framing, the technology to support the video displays and extensive travel costs) have already been borne, by me, out of pocket.

Support received through crowd funding will help to offset the costs of  travel and lodging expenses for participating artists, developing and constructing the confessional and building an online video archive.

When the funding goal is met, prior to the conclusion of the campaign, stretch goals will be announced, including plans to share complete conversations with the world and continuing the project past the exhibition.

How will I be thanked?

Thank you rewards include photoshoots, postcards, my Canon 1D Mark III DSLR, and of course, prints, such as the ones below:

circle line
circle line
frostwork
frostwork
traction force
traction force
lacrimae rerum
lacrimae rerum

What's the Big Deal About the Nude, Anyway? 

The body has been inspiring art since the dawn of humankind; it was the first artistic subject, yet, 40,000 years later, it still captivates and inspires us, all the same. It is nearly universal, having traversed the river of time, across social, cultural, linguistic and physical borders. If we gain a better understanding of why we, as a species, are compelled to make artwork inspired by the body and why we, as a society, react to that artwork the way we do, we might better understand humanity, as a whole.

Who's this Dan Smith guy? 

Dan Smith is a photographer-turned-political scientist-turned-race car driver-turned-photographer, who has found himself inexplicably ensconced in academia while raising a family, in Durham, North Carolina.

When he has the time, his photographic subjects range from the art nude to motorsports, architecture to aviation and… a little bit of documenting the world in which he’s found himself.

Since 2007, he has served as Assistant Director for Programs at the Duke University Center for International Studies. This Fall, he will begin work on a Masters of Fine Arts in Experimental and Documentary Arts at Duke University, planning to complete his degree in Spring 2016.

Follow him on Twitter: @ImThePhotosmith

Find him on Facebook: Like / Friend

Visit his website and view his portfolio: thePhotosmith.com

Risks and challenges

The primary risk is failing to meet my own personal expectations. The videos have been shot, the technology and coding are being assembled and the artwork is being prepped for display.

Transport of the contributed artwork is a concern, but only in terms of securing the work in transit.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    PRODUCTION DIARY: For $10 in support, you'll receive weekly updates and behind-the-scenes peeks at the project and the installation.

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    THANK YOU: For a contribution of $10 of more, you'll receive a personalized digital postcard expressing my eternal gratitude for your support

    You'll also receive my digital production diary.

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    ETCHED IN PAPER: You'll receive a handwritten note of thanks, indelibly etched upon a limited-edition postcard featuring one of my photographs. So that you don't feel left out of the electronic goodies, I'll also thank you on the project website.

    You'll also receive my digital production diary.

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    SNEAK-PREVIEW: For $25 in support, you'll receive an exclusive digital download of one of the four interview displays featuring clips from a dozen artists.

    You'll also receive the digital postcard, a website thank you and the weekly production diary.

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    UP AGAINST THE WALL: Your name in lights! (Well, not really in lights, so much as printer toner fused to paper at high temperature, but you get the idea…) Your name (or the name of someone you wish to honor/embarrass) will be ensconced in a place of honor, on the wall of the installation.

    In addition, you will also receive the digital postcard, a website and wall-text thank you, a single display download and the weekly production diary.

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    COLLECT THEM ALL: For $50, you'll receive a digital download of all four interview displays.

    In addition, you will also receive the digital postcard, a website and wall-text thank you and the weekly production diary.

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    Pledge $65 or more About $65

    OFF THE WALL: Your choice of one of three 4x6-inch high-quality digital giclee prints, ready for framing. I'll send out a backer update with options, so you can choose your print

    In addition, you will also receive the digital postcard, a website and wall-text thank you and the weekly production diary.

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    CONFESS: I will record a brief remote interview with you, prior to the exhibition, to be included in the digital gallery during the opening-night talk.

    In addition, you will also receive the digital postcard, a website and wall-text thank you, downloads of all four video displays and the weekly production diary.

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    THE WISHBOOK: A digital edition of the exhibition catalog, delivered via email.

    In addition, you will also receive the digital postcard, a website and wall-text thank you, a single display download and the weekly production diary.

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    LACRIMAE RERUM: An open limited edition 11x14" gicler print of my photograph, "lacrimae rerum," featuring Kelsey Dylan - http://photosmith.tumblr.com/post/82322312569/ - ready for framing.

    In addition, you will also receive the digital postcard, a website and wall-text thank you, a single display download and the weekly production diary.

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    IT'S A MAGIC NUMBER: Receive all three 4x6-inch high-quality digital giclee prints, ready for framing.

    In addition, you will also receive the digital postcard, a website and wall-text thank you, a single display download and the weekly production diary.

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    MARQUEE: The 11x17 poster for the exhibition, ready for framing.

    In addition, you will also receive the digital postcard, a website and wall-text thank you, a single display download and the weekly production diary.

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    AMA-ZINE: Okay, so I couldn't come up with a decent play on 'zine, but that's what you'll get: a zine. Photographed, designed, produced, signed and mailed by me, to you.

    In addition, you will also receive the digital postcard, a website and wall-text thank you, a single display download and the weekly production diary.

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    FROSTWORK: A signed hand-numbered limited edition 11x14" giclee print of my photograph, "frostwork," featuring Erica Jay - http://photosmith.tumblr.com/post/63560649355 - ready for framing.

    In addition, you will also receive the digital postcard, a website and wall-text thank you, a single display download and the weekly production diary.

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    TRACTION FORCE: A signed hand-numbered limited edition 11x14" giclee print of my photograph, "traction force," featuring Lauren Isaacs -http://photosmith.tumblr.com/post/64027266374 - ready for framing.

    In addition, you will also receive the digital postcard, a website and wall-text thank you, a single display download and the weekly production diary.

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    CIRCLE LINE: A signed hand-numbered limited edition 11x14" giclee print of my photograph, "circle line," featuring Gnossienne - http://photosmith.tumblr.com/post/62057154533 - ready for framing.

    In addition, you will also receive the digital postcard, a website and wall-text thank you, a single display download and the weekly production diary.

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    FANTASTIC FOUR-ZINE: You get not one, but four zines. (Well, four quarterly issues.) Photographed, designed, produced, signed and mailed by me, to you.

    In addition, you will also receive the digital postcard, a website and wall-text thank you, a single display download and the weekly production diary.

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    DISASSOCIATION: A signed hand-numbered limited edition 10x10" giclee print of my photograph, "disassociation," featuring femme-perdue -http://photosmith.tumblr.com/post/70198779474 - ready for framing.

    In addition, you will also receive the digital postcard, a website and wall-text thank you, a single display download and the weekly production diary.

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    A SEAT AT THE TABLE: An invitation to an exclusive lunch with me, three participating artists, on opening day of the exhibit.

    In addition, you will also receive the digital postcard, a website and wall-text thank you, a single display download and the weekly production diary.

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    BEHIND THE GLASS DOOR: Reserve your space at the exclusive 'photoshoot-as-performance-art' shoot that will be conducted in the gallery.

    In addition, you will also receive the digital postcard, a website and wall-text thank you, a single display download and the weekly production diary.

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    SMILE: A one-hour one-on-one digital photoshoot with me, in my studio, in Durham, NC. Whatever format you choose. Portraits, abstract, fine art, clothed, nude -- it's your call. You'll receive a digital proof gallery, an archival print and we are probably going to hang out for a while.

    In addition, you will also receive the digital postcard, a website and wall-text thank you, all four display downloads and the weekly production diary.

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    BEHIND THE GLASS DOOR: Reserve your space at the exclusive 'photoshoot-as-performance-art' shoot that will be conducted in the gallery and receive a one-of-a-kind archival print from the shoot.

    In addition, you will also receive the digital postcard, a website and wall-text thank you, a single display download and the weekly production diary.

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    SMILE, NYC: A one-hour one-on-one digital photoshoot with me, at a location in New York City. Whatever format you choose. Portraits, abstract, fine art, clothed, nude, dressed as Rainbow Brite -- it's your call. You'll receive a digital proof gallery, an archival print and we are probably going to hang out for a while.

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    SMILE, CHICAGO: A one-hour one-on-one digital photoshoot with me, at a location in CHICAGO. Whatever format you choose. Portraits, abstract, fine art, clothed, nude, wearing Spider-Man underoos -- it's your call. You'll receive a digital proof gallery, an archival print and we are probably going to hang out for a while.

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    PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN: Exclusive in-person access to my entire back-catalogue of images, including tens of thousands that have never been publicly released. Pick my brain and then pick one image for a one-of-a-kind archival 11x14" giclee print.

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    THE GUN THAT WON THE WEST: I will give you my well-cared-for Canon EOS 1D Mark III -a 10fps, 10.1MP monster DSLR - my primary camera since 2006. Well-used, but barely-worn with just over 100,000 activations (rated for 300,000 by Canon). Original box, manuals and extra battery included.

    In addition, you will also receive the digital postcard, a website and wall-text thank you, all four display downloads and the weekly production diary.

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    I'M YOURS: I will travel to you for a four-hour one-on-one digital photoshoot with me, in the location(s) of your choosing. Whatever format you choose. Portraits, abstract, fine art, clothed, nude, dressed-up as Yosemite Sam -- it's your call. You'll receive a digital proof gallery, an archival print and we are probably going to hang out for a while.

    In addition, you will also receive the digital postcard, a website and wall-text thank you, all four display downloads and the weekly production diary. US Residents only.

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    I'M YOURS, INTERNATIONALLY: I will travel to you for a four-hour one-on-one digital photoshoot with me, in the location(s) of your choosing. Whatever format you choose. Portraits, abstract, fine art, clothed, nude, wearing only lederhosen -- it's your call. You'll receive a digital proof gallery, an archival print and we are probably going to hang out for a while.

    In addition, you will also receive the digital postcard, a website and wall-text thank you, all four display downloads and the weekly production diary. Non-US residents only.

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Funding period

- (28 days)