Sunday, October 14, 2007

Spencer Tunick - underappreciated revolutionary?

Good ol' Spencer... I've known about him for quite a long time, and have always been intrigued at what he'd do next.

Recently though, an opinion has been raised that maybe his work is going downhill. It's not, just wait and see what he does next. The recent work certainly may not be his best, but the location wasn't the best either. If you've kept up with his work, you'd know that he normally chooses better locations than a simple hotel or a pool. I believe that the champagne shoot was merely him trying something new. Judging from the pictures, it appears that the people were having fun with it.

As for choosing to do an all-female shoot, it's certainly not his first. Back in June he did installations with 250 women and another with 250 men. Previously, he's kept a select group of women around after a large-scale shoot to do some other shoots. He's not being sexist -- it's very common and accepted for photographers and artists to prefer females. (I know this from previous studies.) Even most women photographers prefer to shoot women, and both males and females prefer to look at females. Why? Females are curvy, sleek, and have subtle sexual organs. Males are ridged, fuzzy, and have very overt sexual organs. This same preference can be seen with cars -- do you fancy the sleek curvy ones or the ones that look like a box? I'm just happy that Spencer is still doing mass shoots with anyone and everyone, instead of picking all women all the time.

America (and the world, really) needs a cultural shift into being more comfortable with nudity, to the point where clothing is worn when needed instead of from habit. Some say that being nude with others at some point should be mandatory. The only way to get people to realize the comforts of simple nudity is to strip them down in a positive environment. You and I don't even come close to achieving this task on the scale that is needed. Want to know who does?

In the last 4 years, Specer Tunick has stripped down 38,147 people in a nude-positive environment. A vast majority of those consider the experience of being nude with others quite liberating. (Us nudists already know all that, so I won't detail all the participant's descriptions.) My questions is: How many of those do you think try a nudist resort or beach later on? Or at least have a positive attitude towards nudity? Even 5% is a pretty significant number -- almost 2,000!

Spencer is certainly leading the way in liberating the masses -- I for one am cheering him on! (And even his copycats!)


Nudiarist said...

Tunick's work has always been suspect in terms of artistic merit. There is no doubt that what he does is important in terms of body acceptance, but generally his photographs are interesting because of the contrast of soft nude human beings in hard urban settings. His compositions are interesting but not groundbreaking. If Tunick was strictly a landscape photograper, he would no doubt be obscure. Please note that this is just an opinion, but an educated one, I studied at a professional arts school for a few years.

Tunick has to be careful to avoid self-parody. He has photographed thousands of naked people from Mexico City to a Swiss glacier - what can he possibly do to top this? He goes to Miami and tries to make a statement on cultural excess and winds up being part of the excessiveness himself.

The critique I made of Tunick in selecting women for the raft shoot was not that he chose only females, but only thin females. I later learned that the reason for selecting slender women was so that more of the pink pool floats would show in the photo. Insert joke about showing more pink here.

I reserve my final judgement until I see the final work, but based upon what I have seen and read so far, I feel that Tunick has "jumped the shark". He might still have some good installations left in him, but it's the fate of most artists that eventually they go too far in attempting to top themselves.


Anonymous said...

Tunick himself has refused to be nude when people have asked him to be nude in his photo shoots so he really doesn't seem to believe in this whole "body acceptance" thing.

Mike said...

OK, so I take a Black Box approach to evaluating his importance. Input: thousands of clothed people. Output: thousands of naked and happy people. Is this good? YES! I don't care what the process is to get the end result... It could be a clothed photographer, child slaves refusing to make the clothes, or monkeys with laser guns...I don't care. No matter what, the process works and the end result is very positive! If you find and implement a more successful process, then I'll certainly write a blog post on you.

Nudiarist said...

Anonymous - whether or not Tunick is nude himself is irrelevant to the process of creating his installations. He is a photographer working with large installations of nude people in mostly urban settings - he is not a nudist, a naturist, or a philosopher.

Mike - I thought the debate on Tunick here was founded upon whether or not his work has ceased to have real artistic merit. I agree that the work he does is exhilarating in a social and human sense, but has his WORK become a parody of itself? Can he continue to expand his artistic vision, or is he becoming more of a pop art and cultural phenomenon, not unlike a circus or a Vegas act.

Again, not debating the positive impact he has on the people he brings together, just wondering if he can still be called an artist in the truest sense of the word.