TwinLens: An Exploration of the Art Nude & Global Culture
A photographic collection and film documentary exploring cultural attitudes toward the fine art nude and the models who make them.
As a photographer, the art nude has always held a fascination for me. It is the combination of two simple and common elements -- light and the human body -- blended together to create something unique, complex, beautiful and intrinsically human.
But the art nude is also essentially global and universal -- most cultures have a historic tradition of artistic nudes and the oldest-known human depiction is a female art nude. Accordingly, unlike so many other forms of art and photography, for the viewer, in my opinion, the art nude transcends socio-economic, cultural and contextual boundaries, yet different societies react to and perceive the art nude from vastly different viewpoints.
So much has been written and studied about the various interpretations and reactions to the art nude, in addition to volumes and volumes of pontification by artists, critics and historians about the nude as an art form. However, rarely has anyone taken the time to ask the models -- the key contributors to the art -- for their opinions, motivations and experiences.
As a social scientist whose work centers largely on the diversity and nuances of global culture, this almost-complete silence from those who participate in creating this most fundamental of art forms bothers me.
That's why I began TwinLens-- to document and artistically explore the models' motivations and cultural attitudes and to provide a primer on modern art theories as they pertain to the female art nude in photography.
TwinLens began as an experiment to tell a story through two different visual mediums.
It was one of those 'hm, that's a cool idea,' thoughts that rarely, if ever, gets written down, let alone actually started.
Inspired by a colleague's use of structured interviews to gather attitudes on political issues, I designed a set of formal survey questions, which I would then ask a model that I've never worked with previously to answer on-camera. The questions would cover everything from personal and professional background, to demographics, to attitudes on global culture and, of course, the art nude. Having not worked together, and not yet discussed my artistic concepts, I figured that this would remove any potential influence, on my part, from their answers. After the interview comes a creative meeting and, of course, a photo shoot. At some point later, the models will sit down with a colleague for a formal exit interview to see if participation has in any way influenced their opinions.
The photography would provide a fine-art component, while the interview footage, along with expert interviews, would be incorporated into a short-form documentary film.
As I conceived the plan, 25 models seemed like a good compromise between the demands of an adequate sample size and being able to reasonably accomplish the project within a year of starting, given that photography is my passion, not my profession.
As the project rolled along, I realized that to increase the demographic breadth, I would need to work with traveling, professional art models, in addition to those professionals, amateurs and aspiring-professional models closer to home, which has caused the project costs to skyrocket…
TwinLens now stands at 21 preliminary interviews complete and nearly as many photo shoots and follow-up interviews finished. If all goes as expected, I hope to have the final raw components in-hand by the end of January. I plan to have a finalized edit of the film and a book of 100 photographs curated from the photo shoots by the end of April, if not sooner, and a local exhibition of the art and the film by the end of 2012.
Realizing that not everyone shares my appreciation of the nude in art, I have purposefully omitted my nude photography from appearing on this page, or in the video above.
Here is a small sample, with additional images available in the project updates tab:
If you would like to see additional samples of my work, please visit:
- (30 days)