Obscene

Above: Woman holding her neck (detail). Credit: Kensin Kei.

Obscenity

For Jean Baudrillard obscenity is described as the absence of distance, play, the stage, the gaze, metaphor ... there is only brutal immediacy: the body, the sex organs, but also pure information, or the in-real-time news broadcast. In the context of the obscene nothing remains unsaid or unspoken. In the realm of the obscene all is transparent, obvious ... nothing whatsoever is left to the imagination. The obscene photo-image-maker demolishes illusion (and the prospect of illusion) and replaces it with brightly-lit detail.

The obscene photo-image-maker is not separate from the subject but included in the same realm: there is only one realm (no distance or separation is possible). The obscene photo-image-maker rejects the realm of imagination. All subject matter must yield to the fluorescent strip-light, the flood-light, the spot-light. The obscene eye is totalizing, invading, unhindered, remorseless.

Consequent to the anatomical zoom, the dimension of the real is abolished, the distance implied by the gaze gives way to an instantaneous, exacerbated representation, that of sex in its pure state, stripped not just of all seduction, but of its image's very potentiality. Sex so close that it merges with its own representation: the end of perspectival space, and therefore, that of the imaginary and of phantasy--end of the scene, end of an illusion ... Modern unreality no longer implies the imaginary, it engages more reference, more truth, more exactitude--it consists in having everything pass into the absolute evidence of the real. As in hyperrealist paintings where one can discern the grain of the face's skin, an unwanted microscopics that lacks even the charm of the uncanny.--Jean Baudrillard

(27 January 2019)