Celebrating the beautiful human body

In her weekly column titled "Celebrating the Body Beautiful", Regina Lynn reviews a project at the Erotic Museum called "The Human Body Project".  Here is how the Erotic Museum introduces the project:

Media presents us with an abundance of images of people creating an inaccurate picture of who we are as a species. The bodies we see in the media are modified through motion-restricted exercise, restricted diets, the use of paints and dyes and surgical modification. These changes along with the sophisticated use of lighting and digital technology produce images that are far from mankinds true appearance. The links between this misperception and trends in social functioning are only recently becoming fully apparent.

The Erotic Museum is conducting an ongoing research project intent on recording the full breadth of natural and altered human physiology. By creating a massive image database of everyday people of every race, age and size we hope to provide the public with an enduring image of mankind’s actual appearance in all of it’s natural and unnatural forms. The project records natural skin coloration patterns, tattoos, body modifications, common body hair distribution and other characteristics seldom represented in the media. The database of images has been indexed, categorized and cross-referenced with profile data for each individual to be used in an upcoming exhibition in the Self-consciousness exhibit which explores body image and the sense of self.

planned for installation as part of The Human Body Project exhibit are
a collection of videos compiled by Richard Lawrence of Australia that
show a true side of human orgasm. The videos are only a few minutes
each and they show a head and shoulders view of individuals
masturbating in their own homes. These brief portraits give a unique
insight into the emotional transformation that takes place during sex.

This is a really intriguing project and not so much because of the photographs of nude people but more because it reflects our own perceptions and judgments about our bodies and sexuality right back at us.  It seems like a very "in your face" exhibition that forces you to confront and hopefully re-evaluate your views of sex and sexuality.

Regina asks some very valid questions and makes a number of perceptive observations:

Eric arranges the pictures so they inspire us to recognize, and to
question, our initial assumptions about gender, sexuality and power.
Rows of images juxtapose sex, body type, age, race and body art. Each
photo features the subject’s entire body, shot from front or back or
side. Not all of the pictures are shot to the same scale, allowing for
intriguing considerations of size and perspective.

And because most subjects appear both nude and clothed, you find that your opinions about who they are change depending on which picture you saw first.

"People get mesmerized, staring for a long time," Eric says. "We
have a lot of photos so you can make a lot of different comparisons."

The longer I looked, the more I saw. A nude woman standing with her
feet apart and shoulders squared catches the eye, because it’s an
assertive stance we traditionally associate with men. A thin naked man,
who Eric tells me is a husband and father of two, also appears in
another row, looking natty in a vintage dress and platform sandals with
a matching handbag.

One woman, curvy and statuesque in her nude shot, looks dumpy in an
oversized T-shirt tucked into baggy cargo pants. Naked, she’s as
feminine and sexy as a woman can be. Clothed, she downplays breasts and
hips and hides her waist. Eric muses that she deliberately uses
clothing to neutralize her gender; I think she just thinks she’s fat
and hasn’t watched What Not to Wear.

A Harley rider who hangs out across the street from the museum stands
in profile, looking almost as tough in his nudity as he does in
leathers. Yet, in another picture, where he’s facing a woman about his
size and age, his presence morphs from intimidating to regular
middle-aged guy with a belly. Why does my perception of him change when
I see him as part of a couple?

I think this is definitely worth checking out.






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