Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Power of Suggestion

This image actually came out rather a bit more perverted than I had intended. I just wanted something sexually suggestive, but because it's tricky to get two clones too close to each other, I had to play around with my options... Still, if you ignore the implication of the clones together, separately I think they're both very erotic, and the image comes together pretty nicely as a whole, so... Hell, I like to broach the taboo in my art.

The Power of Suggestion

I watched Enter The Dragon once a long time ago, and I was inspired by Bruce Lee's philosophy on the "art of fighting without fighting". Certainly, it seems in the spirit of the first rule of martial arts: the best way to win a fight, is to avoid it in the first place. What does any of this have to do with my art, you ask? Well, it has inspired my view that erotic art is the art of sex without sex. While it is certainly not always the case (especially as I contend that sexually explicit images - the type most people label as "pornography" - can be just as artistic as anything else), much of erotic art tends to rely on the power of suggestion, rather than full disclosure. This is a form of indirect communication than can be considered coy, but also extremely clever in the right hands.

I like suggestion particularly because it has the power to conjure ideas that don't directly exist in the source medium. It's almost like a kind of magic. I can show you a picture of a person's body not engaged in sexual intercourse, and it could make you think of sexual intercourse (obviously, there's a wide margin of error, but that's part of what makes suggestion so mystical). It depends a lot on psychological conditioning, which is itself dependent on culture. You can make statements with and about suggestion that have much to say about the connections we draw - as individuals, and as a culture - between more and less disparate subjects. Like the connection between nudity and sex, or the connection between sex and sin.

Suggestion is also a very important weapon in the battle between free speech and censorship. And it can be used by both sides. The censor can demonstrate a connection between an allowed form of speech and a disallowed form of speech, and use it to make an argument to increase the forms of speech that are disallowed. I, on the other hand, like to use suggestion to demonstrate the disconnect between thoughts and speech. If certain speech is restricted - sexually explicit materials, for example - this demonstrates a cultural discomfort with the subject of sex. But, at least so far, we cannot restrict people's thoughts. So I can induce people to think about sex (within a margin of error) without using restricted materials, through the power of suggestion, by showing them something they associate with sex. And if the censor tries to move against me, that just reveals his real goal: to regulate the thoughts of his fellow citizens - regulating speech is just a means towards that end.


  1. Cool photo...
    This scene would fit perfectly in the paintings of my all time favourite painter: Hieronymus Bosch.
    Especially in his 'Garden of Earthly Delights'


  2. Indeed it would! I really like the concept of a garden of Earthly delights. In fact, I wrote an analysis of that painting three years ago! :D

  3. Great!
    I missed that post, and probably many more still from your older pages.

    I like your interpretation, though it might not have been Bosch's idea, maybe. A whole lot is said about it, but nobody knows how 'den duvelmakere' (the creator of devils) would have explained it. Very little is known about him.
    One thing is for sure, the climate he was living in was extremely religious, and he was extremely different from all the other painters.
    Caused by drugs or not... We have some mean mushrooms and stuff in the low countries... :-))

    Probably, as these things go, the truth lies in the middle somewhere, I would guess.
    And no matter how he meant it, he will stay my hero for creating scenes like that in those days and not getting burned on the stake!
    And for letting our fantasies go wild, even still today.
    Mine did many times looking at the paintings anyway, can't get enough of them. And each time I look at them again I keep finding more things that amaze me...
    And I knows these paintings since I was a child...

    Keep going Zharth! :-))

  4. Yes! His paintings are absolutely alive with detail. I am also a horror fan, and I love the way Bosch draws demons. Very creepy looking.