Recently, there was a surprising statement in one of NSFW feeds that usually just post photos:
Any picture done in monochrome is automatically art; its practically one of the governing laws of the universe…
Now, this theory is worth exploring. Especially because in this case it taps in one of my favourite questions about relationships of art and pornography. For your office-reading convenience all the examples are just linked to (and you probably don't want to open them in the office).
While I think that in some cases it's the hypocrisy on the job and that all the art-porn vs. just-porn story is just a way to calm down the inner voices of guilt, the question remains. Why monochrome makes a photograph artistic? That is not just a question of pornography. It works for almost any subject that comes in front of the lens.
photo by Flavio
Probably there's no single reason for this. But there are some suspects that nicely combined can shed some light on the matter.
- First photos were monochromatic. And they were art. Back in those days, photographers were rare and they were into art, not just snapshooting their holidays. Though there was pornography in those days, it's not what comes to our minds first. Later, when the color was introduced to photography, black and white remained the choice of art photographers. So we stick to that habit of treating monochrome as artist's realm.
- For the same reason, monochrome looks old to us. It belongs to history. And history doesn't go easily with our dirty little hobbies. Sure, if you think about it it doesn't make any sense. But our minds are easy to trick with a bit of habit.
- Today's mainstream porn is done with strong lights and colors are oversaturated. With monochrome, you go to the other extreme. It looks so different that we don't pay attention to the similarity of the subject.
- Color of the flesh (and accompanying pink) is one of the turn-on elements of the porn. One that the monochrome images lack. Though it's not the only turn-on element, it's an important one. Important enough to make some of us change the feelings towards the photo.
- Color is too close to reality. Unlike "art", coloured porn has that "forthright" feeling. Take that away and one can think of artistic process behind the image. Like there is something more than what directly meets the eye.
I can hear so many of you screaming that those arguments above are missing the point and that art is not what's implied above. Which is true. But there is no reason why pornography can't be art, and those two are not opposites. Not just killing the color of the photograph makes something art.
But still, the feeling of connection of monochrome image and the art is so strong and common that it's worth exploring. So, give me your thoughts why is that so.