• Posted: Dec 15, 2007 22:26:35
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Beauty, what exactly is it? If one were to take a dispassionate view of women, one might conclude that beauty is a preoccupation with presentation.
And what do I mean by "presentation"? Reference another species, say the male peafowl or peacock. That bird couldn't care less about displaying his elaborate plumage until he suddenly feels the need to impress a female, or intimidate a potential rival. Presentation, therefore, is a physically outward display of bodily form meant to have social significance with respect to the establishment of mating rights.
But is presentation all there is to beauty? I don't think so. Beauty is a visceral reaction to a particularly impressive presentation, a very specific reaction, a totally disarming reaction. It is so disarming, in fact, that one must actually consider beauty to be a type of defense mechanism. Consider a kitten or a puppy. One hardly feels hostility toward them. Why? Because they are so cute. Their beauty protects them from hostility.
And so, what am I doing trying to make a beautiful photograph? Am I trying to make a photograph so disarming that viewers will feel an overwhelming desire to protect it from harm? Perhaps I am.
Or, maybe it is the photographs that are manipulating me into ever more elaborate efforts to perfect their beauty, and hence enhance their potential for survival. :-)
January 1972 Chicago