PORTFOLIO > This Is Not Pornography
The possibility of manipulating images has been utilised long before the birth of the camera. However, the effects of the digital techniques now applied to photography have enhanced the credibility of the manipulated image beyond what might have been perceived as a possibility in previous times. This is of course heavily dependent on the willingness on the part of the viewer to believe in the photograph as the guardian of verisimilitude. This could be witnessed at many of the previous exhibitions Paul has held for earlier bodies of his work; frequently his work had been quickly surmised as a record of a drunken night on the town or of soldiers out training. The potential quality of this manipulation throws up questions as to what is accepted as real within any image.
Paul's earlier series. always courted the question of the assumed integrity of a photograph, at first glance obscuring the boundaries between what is conceived as real documentary photography and the digital image. What followed was a series of large-format high gloss photos in which he clearly defined his position in relation to traditional photography. Within this series he chooses to explore the new frontier of the digital aesthetic, depicting fantasy in complete contrast to notions of reality.
Paul combines elements of the pornographic, theatrical and grotesque into a form that does not conceal it's dislocation from realism. Each image examines a slightly different stance towards the subject matter.
The title gives us a clear indication as to what Paul intends this work to communicate. 'This is not pornograph' is a statement not just a title. The widely accepted definition of a pornographic image is that it primarily operates to stimulate erotic, rather than aesthetic reactions. The bodily distortions and violent nature of some of these images is deliberately intended to have a rebarbative effect rather than appear erotic. This is probably most evident in the shaving shot; where the cut throat razor evokes the fear of castration and the blended bodies lose all their sexual function.
Within other images in this series Paul observes the passivity of a relationship with pornography, that of the supine voyeur. The male figure left masturbating in his chair is seen as the weaker participant in the image.
The pornographic image has always been credited with playing a crucial part in reinforcing a dominant stereotype and it is from this source Paul has drawn his references. Through an understanding of the pre-existent forms and conventions of presentation Paul produces simulations of simulations, a fabricated androgyny that confounds our expectations of the erotic.