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Author Topic: This book is full of "interesting assumptions".  (Read 20659 times)

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TeamBhakta

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Re: This book is full of "interesting assumptions".
« Reply #75 on: May 09, 2016, 03:07:40 PM »
This weekend at a store, I saw a young person with a noticeable growth on the side of their face, but in no way was I disgusted. But with my RBF
...I would be horrified to have my picture taken at that exact moment and splashed over books and the web.

I have RBF. One time I needed to squeeze past the chair of a heavy guy in the university computer lab. As he made way for me, he commented "I am sorry that I am fat & in your way. Your probably dislike that I take up so much space  :(" It was a rather offputting assumption, considering I was actually attracted to the guy & had previously told my roommates I was interested in him  ::)

Celany

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Re: This book is full of "interesting assumptions".
« Reply #76 on: May 09, 2016, 03:38:20 PM »
Yes and by her own testimony many of the assumptions are hers.

For what it's worth I think therapy instead of blasting strangers' face online and in books decrying them as fat-shamers with no proof would be a better option for her.

It's an art project, not an indictment. It's not about them. No "proof" necessary. It's testimony about her own experiences. Perhaps this work is therapeutic for her. It registers to me an empowering act.

You seem to me to be saying that taking and publishing these photos of strangers, without their knowledge or consent, is perfectly ok because it's her "art" and because it is "not about them." I.e., that she does not (etiquettely/morally) need their consent to make them part of her art or to use their images in her artistic narrative of her experiences. Not even if the role she gives them in her narrative is a negative one. Is that correct? If that is not a correct representation of your position, could you please clarify?


Yeah, this is my problem. In the later article someone published (more detailed interview) she is more nuanced in her views and described that at least some pictures were triggered by something in particular (still can't be 100% sure of what people are doing but it's at least more evidence than a random expression on someone's face). But the problem is a lot of the public is not that nuanced. That's not her fault, but it's not unexpected. If I were one of the other people photographed, I would feel attacked. I am not one of the people photographed, so I'm not particularly angry about what she did, but it makes me uncomfortable. I realized that blurring out faces would render this whole thing moot, but that's my preferred way of displaying strangers. If she had wanted to focus on body language more than facial expressions and blurred the faces I may or may not agree with her conclusions (interpreting a situation from a split second frozen in time can still be difficult) but it wouldn't make me uncomfortable on behalf of the others in the photographs.

I have several fat friends who are proud of/satisfied with their body type (and also feel strongly about "fat" not being a negative word; that it's a descriptive word that shouldn't be imbued with negative connotation, which I completely agree with), which is a mentality that I completely and utterly agree with. It's an important subject to me, and one that I've called people out on (when I've heard them using the word as an insult).

So if a woman in Times Square who had a tripod set up (in Times Square!) caught me giving her a dirty look in a photo and said it was because I was disgusted with her fatness, I'd be furious! Because the thing I'd be angry about is a freaking tripod in Times Square, which is hard enough to walk through without selfie sticks and tripods, and suitcases all being hauled about. And especially given some of the scary results of public shaming (http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/16/living/feat-public-shaming-ronson/). People do stupid things, obnoxious things. And even if perhaps, some response is appropriate and warranted, death threats and harassment are wrong! And could very well happen to a random subject of hers, who might end up spending a significant portion of his/her life defending a momentary expression that flitted across his/her face.
I have studied many philosophers and many cats. The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior. ~ Hippolyte Taine

Thipu1

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Re: This book is full of "interesting assumptions".
« Reply #77 on: May 10, 2016, 09:28:04 AM »
Amen, Celany!

Art is always open to interpretation.  What I find distasteful about this is that the observers in this project have no idea what's going on.  It's darn close to exploitation of innocent bystanders.

 

Wittyone

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Re: This book is full of "interesting assumptions".
« Reply #78 on: May 10, 2016, 10:33:12 AM »
And could very well happen to a random subject of hers, who might end up spending a significant portion of his/her life defending a momentary expression that flitted across his/her face.

This is my problem with her project.  In one of the interviews linked to she said, of the picture on the stairs in Spain, her assistant took hundreds of photos in a few minutes.  She combed through them to find the one photo in which the man was looking at her.  So a single brief glance earns him a place in her book.  I understand the difficulty in capturing the experiences she has.  But I disagree with this project as an effective way to express herself.
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gellchom

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Re: This book is full of "interesting assumptions".
« Reply #79 on: May 10, 2016, 12:43:53 PM »
Well, if she would say, "Right, I'm not saying that everyone looks at me that way.  Most people don't.  I was just trying to illustrate what it is like when they do.  That's why I had to comb through hundreds to find one," then what it kind of comes down to is using passersby as free models.

But I'm not sure that's not okay.  I have no idea what the legal limits are.  But there are very powerful photographs, many famous, that were taken without the subjects' permission or even knowledge.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2016, 12:45:58 PM by gellchom »

Roodabega

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Re: This book is full of "interesting assumptions".
« Reply #80 on: May 10, 2016, 01:56:42 PM »
I am a big guy.   I've probably gotten the looks and comments under the breath, but I'm generally too oblivious to notice.    I can't say that I haven't ever internally judged someone based on looks/clothing/actions but I can't remember ever verbalizing it (with the exception of muttering something at other drivers from within my car).  I'm not perfect.

What really bothers me about this woman's work (I don't care what degree she has, my personal opinion is it's not art) is that people are going to be making judgements about the bystanders in the pictures in this book based on what she's presenting their looks as meaning.  How embarrassing would it be to have your friends/neighbors/acquaintences see you in one of those pictures and have the thought planted in their minds that you are a despicable person because you appear to be casting negative judgements against someone.  It's in a picture.  It's permanent.   The internet is forever, and those people are going to be seen, by at least some, as fat shamers based on nothing more than a moment captured in time.   My opinion of this artist is not really printable, and it doesn't have anything to do with her weight.

artk2002

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Re: This book is full of "interesting assumptions".
« Reply #81 on: May 10, 2016, 02:52:16 PM »
Her degrees and academic position don't make this art and don't make this not art. Academics in the art world are a whole different breed -- I get to hear from my son on that topic a lot since he's studying art. He's looked at this and in his book, it is art; I tend to agree with him. But it's seriously tainted by the unethical way she's treating her unwilling and unaware subjects. If she's trying to communicate something from her life to the viewer, she's losing her effectiveness by involving people who are almost certainly innocent of what she's implying.  Fifty years ago, this might have been less bothersome because it would be a coffee table book that sold a few thousand copies. Given how media are distributed today and how people are prone to assume the worst in anything that flies by in the FB feed, this was a very badly conceived piece of art.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

lmyrs

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Re: This book is full of "interesting assumptions".
« Reply #82 on: May 10, 2016, 03:02:08 PM »
I'm with ArtK. I agree that this is "art". But that doesn't make it ethical. Just because it's art doesn't make it ok to misrepresent a stranger for the purpose for public shaming.

Zizi-K

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Re: This book is full of "interesting assumptions".
« Reply #83 on: May 10, 2016, 03:21:35 PM »
Her degrees and academic position don't make this art and don't make this not art. Academics in the art world are a whole different breed -- I get to hear from my son on that topic a lot since he's studying art. He's looked at this and in his book, it is art; I tend to agree with him. But it's seriously tainted by the unethical way she's treating her unwilling and unaware subjects. If she's trying to communicate something from her life to the viewer, she's losing her effectiveness by involving people who are almost certainly innocent of what she's implying.  Fifty years ago, this might have been less bothersome because it would be a coffee table book that sold a few thousand copies. Given how media are distributed today and how people are prone to assume the worst in anything that flies by in the FB feed, this was a very badly conceived piece of art.

How could you know this with any certainty?? Also, what part of this exactly is unethical? Nowhere does she say that these people are fat-shaming her. She clearly states that she does not know what the passerby is thinking--that there is some interaction but she can't be sure what the nature of it is, though her perceptions are no doubt colored by her daily experiences.

From her website:
"I have been setting up a camera in public to see if I can capture the gazes of the strangers who walk by me while I am doing everyday, mundane acts. I then look at the images to see if anyone who passed by me had a critical or questioning look on their face or in their body language. I present the images to the world to start a conversation. While I do not know what the passersby is thinking, I attempt to reverse the gaze back onto the stranger."

Explain again what assumptions she is making?

I think that the descriptions of potential harm that might come to any of these subjects is entirely overblown, bordering on hysterical. The photos themselves are entirely ambiguous. It is hard to tell sometimes if they're even looking at her, much less what they are thinking. The idea that someone would track one of these subjects down and try to ruin their life is unlikely at best. I know that if I saw someone I knew in the photographs, I certainly wouldn't jump to any conclusions.

If you hate this artist so much for creating ambiguous photographs, dealing with her own experiences, that you are thinking unprintable things about her, its time to do some self-reflection.

What I find so fascinating about all these responses is the depth of anger and negative feelings thrown at the artist in defense of the "supposed innocent"--and I put it in quotes because there's no charge, no accusation in these photographs--but little sympathy for what might have led her to want to explore this subject to begin with.

Chickadee

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Re: This book is full of "interesting assumptions".
« Reply #84 on: May 10, 2016, 03:28:52 PM »
<snip>
How could you know this with any certainty?? Also, what part of this exactly is unethical? Nowhere does she say that these people are fat-shaming her. She clearly states that she does not know what the passerby is thinking--that there is some interaction but she can't be sure what the nature of it is, though her perceptions are no doubt colored by her daily experiences.

From her website:
"I have been setting up a camera in public to see if I can capture the gazes of the strangers who walk by me while I am doing everyday, mundane acts. I then look at the images to see if anyone who passed by me had a critical or questioning look on their face or in their body language. I present the images to the world to start a conversation. While I do not know what the passersby is thinking, I attempt to reverse the gaze back onto the stranger."

Explain again what assumptions she is making?

I think that the descriptions of potential harm that might come to any of these subjects is entirely overblown, bordering on hysterical. The photos themselves are entirely ambiguous. It is hard to tell sometimes if they're even looking at her, much less what they are thinking. The idea that someone would track one of these subjects down and try to ruin their life is unlikely at best. I know that if I saw someone I knew in the photographs, I certainly wouldn't jump to any conclusions.

If you hate this artist so much for creating ambiguous photographs, dealing with her own experiences, that you are thinking unprintable things about her, its time to do some self-reflection.

What I find so fascinating about all these responses is the depth of anger and negative feelings thrown at the artist in defense of the "supposed innocent"--and I put it in quotes because there's no charge, no accusation in these photographs--but little sympathy for what might have led her to want to explore this subject to begin with.

The thing is, she is deliberately drawing attention to herself. This is my opinion only, of course, but I don't consider having one's picture taken in Times Square to be an everyday mundane act. Of course passers-by are going to look at her questioningly, or even critically if she is blocking the flow of pedestrian traffic.

Zizi-K

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Re: This book is full of "interesting assumptions".
« Reply #85 on: May 10, 2016, 03:36:02 PM »
Most of the photographs are not taken in Times Square. Most of them are taken in places like the beach, a random clothing store, or on a boardwalk where people do exercise (as was she). I can't see how that's "calling attention to oneself", unless you consider that everyone out in public all of the time is calling attention to themselves by virtue of simply existing. Or, unless you think that someone taking a snapshot of someone else is a big deal worthy of notice. I don't.

wolfie

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Re: This book is full of "interesting assumptions".
« Reply #86 on: May 10, 2016, 04:26:28 PM »
Most of the photographs are not taken in Times Square. Most of them are taken in places like the beach, a random clothing store, or on a boardwalk where people do exercise (as was she). I can't see how that's "calling attention to oneself", unless you consider that everyone out in public all of the time is calling attention to themselves by virtue of simply existing. Or, unless you think that someone taking a snapshot of someone else is a big deal worthy of notice. I don't.

If someone is in a clothing shop, shopping and someone else is snapping hundreds of pictures of them I am going to assume something is going on and i will probably stare at them trying to figure out if she is a celebrity or if this is a reality show or what else could be going on.

KenveeB

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Re: This book is full of "interesting assumptions".
« Reply #87 on: May 10, 2016, 04:59:01 PM »
Most of the photographs are not taken in Times Square. Most of them are taken in places like the beach, a random clothing store, or on a boardwalk where people do exercise (as was she). I can't see how that's "calling attention to oneself", unless you consider that everyone out in public all of the time is calling attention to themselves by virtue of simply existing. Or, unless you think that someone taking a snapshot of someone else is a big deal worthy of notice. I don't.

Taking a snapshot, no. Having a tripod set up or having another person taking admittedly hundreds of pictures is completely different. The reason I don't respect this woman's work as art is because she's creating a wholly artificial environment that completely changes her purported explanation for the pictures, but still presents it as the same thing. That's not any kind of artistic honesty and completely undermines the message she claims to be making.

Leaving out the art aspect, I also think she's hurting the very cause she's espousing. If you look at her pictures and say "those are normal looks, I don't think it's because she's fat," then you end up having people who believe the entire idea of fat-shaming is made-up or overwrought. So really any way you consider it, it's a bad thing.

Celany

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Re: This book is full of "interesting assumptions".
« Reply #88 on: May 10, 2016, 04:59:59 PM »
Also, what part of this exactly is unethical? Nowhere does she say that these people are fat-shaming her. She clearly states that she does not know what the passerby is thinking--that there is some interaction but she can't be sure what the nature of it is, though her perceptions are no doubt colored by her daily experiences.

From her website:
"I have been setting up a camera in public to see if I can capture the gazes of the strangers who walk by me while I am doing everyday, mundane acts. I then look at the images to see if anyone who passed by me had a critical or questioning look on their face or in their body language. I present the images to the world to start a conversation. While I do not know what the passersby is thinking, I attempt to reverse the gaze back onto the stranger."

Explain again what assumptions she is making?

The assumption that the look on that person's face has anything to do with her whatsoever.


I have had the unfortunate experience (and also witnessed this happening to several others) of staring off into space on the subway, and not realizing that I'm staring at someone. Until they (thinking that I'm glaring at them) challenge me. And I've politely apologized and had people (typically people who obviously look physically different than me) tell me to stop being a liar, and ask if I had a problem with <insert race/religion/group> people. No, I don't. I just have RBF and was staring off into space and am really sorry that it looked like I was staring at you.

I've gotten off of the train (and like I said, seen this happen to other people) because someone wanted to "start a conversation" with me about the problem I had with them, when I had zero problem with them until they started being scary and angry at me.

And YES, I have a HUGE amount of sympathy for people who deal with being hated because of their race/religion/size/sexual orientation/whatever. It sucks. It should be brought up. It should be a conversation. But not one that takes potentially innocent bystanders and makes their gaze the subject of debate when we have absolutely no idea what was going on in their heads.

I think that the descriptions of potential harm that might come to any of these subjects is entirely overblown, bordering on hysterical. The photos themselves are entirely ambiguous. It is hard to tell sometimes if they're even looking at her, much less what they are thinking. The idea that someone would track one of these subjects down and try to ruin their life is unlikely at best. I know that if I saw someone I knew in the photographs, I certainly wouldn't jump to any conclusions.

So here's an article on online shaming and the harm it's done people: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/feb/21/internet-shaming-lindsey-stone-jon-ronson

It talks about people doing stupid things, sometimes innocent things (like the dongle joke, which honestly, I can see two people laughing over the word 'dongle' in a non-sexual way (I've done it, it's a silly word)), and it really screwing up their lives. It caused them to lose their jobs and get hate mail and contemplate suicide. To me, that makes it deeply serious, and I really wouldn't want my image to be used in a way that I didn't approve, especially putting me in the context of shaming another human being.

Really, even if there was no chance of being shamed, I still wouldn't want my image of me gazing off into space with RBF used as an example of possible being hateful towards other people, because I'm not like that. It would feel horrible to see my image used that way.


If you hate this artist so much for creating ambiguous photographs, dealing with her own experiences, that you are thinking unprintable things about her, its time to do some self-reflection.

I don't believe anybody has said they hate the artist. I don't. But I do deeply dislike and have no respect for her methodology, for all the reasons I've already mentioned.

Also, it's an interesting assumption on your part that those of us who are unhappy with this haven't done a goodly bit self reflection.


What I find so fascinating about all these responses is the depth of anger and negative feelings thrown at the artist in defense of the "supposed innocent"--and I put it in quotes because there's no charge, no accusation in these photographs--but little sympathy for what might have led her to want to explore this subject to begin with.

I actually have so much sympathy for this subject that when I see it being brought up in what reads (to me, and others, though not everybody, clearly) in a really poorly devised manor that could potentially create bad situations for innocent people, it makes me kind of angry. Because it should be brought up. In ways that generate genuine dialog on the actual subject, not on the unethicality of using people's photos of them potentially doing something negative, without their permission.

Also, it seems like this argument (hers and maybe yours) is having it both ways. She wants to open a dialog about fat shaming. By showing photos of people who may be shaming her, or may be going about their days and looked at someone funny for a moment. So she's not making any charge...but she wants to talk about fat shaming...but she's making no charge...but she's using photos of people without their consent who may be looking at her in a fat shaming way...but she's making no charge...

???
I have studied many philosophers and many cats. The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior. ~ Hippolyte Taine

ti_ax

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Re: This book is full of "interesting assumptions".
« Reply #89 on: May 10, 2016, 05:10:13 PM »
POD to KenveeB and Celany.  :)


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