Conceptually artistic dicks

(Consider the title: not for kids or the sexually modest.)

In today’s AZBlogX posting “VT’s Banksy’s Magritte”, two Vadim Temkin take-offs on a Banksy take-off on a Magritte — one, in the negative, like the Magritte original; the other, in the positive, as in the Banksy take-off — but both with artistic representations of penises that make them off-limits for this blog (and that itself becomes a topic for discussion).

The background is in my 4/29 posting, in image #1 there, Banksy’s This is a Pipe (2011),


(#1) The positive pipe version, with an actual pipe-1 jutting out from the frame

This is a play on image #2 there, René Magritte’s La Trahison des images (The Betrayal / Treachery of Images: Ceci n’est pas une pipe):


(#2) The negative pipe original, with a flat painted representation of a pipe-2

With punning on pipe-2 (a device for smoking tobacco, as in the Magritte) vs. pipe-1 (a tube for transmitting fluid, as in the Banksy).

Then from CGI artist Vadim Temkin, a work inspired by the Banksy, with a pipe-3, a penis (more punning), jutting out from a neutral background (#1 in the AZBlogX posting), with the negative Magritte version of the caption.

[Note on pipe-3, from GDoS, in its first entry for pipe, second sense:

with ref. to the pipe’s tubular shape … (a) the penis [1st cite 1600 and then throughout the 17th century and on to 2009]

An entirely natural metaphor, destined to become conventionalized sooner or later.]

I wrote to Vadim about this work: “It’s in an uncanny valley — metallic-sheen head, but some pubic hair at the other end.” And he replied, obligingly: “I am doing a version of Banksy with an antic frame and a lot of hair.” So he did, in #2 in the AZBlogX posting, with a positive version of the caption and a much more realistic penis, now jutting out from a frame the way the pipe does in the Banksy.

So both of Vadim’s versions are edgy, but in different ways. The first isn’t at all realistic in detail, but is still too close to a penis to appear in WordPress. The second is much more realistic, to the point where it’s unsettling because it appears to be an actual male sexual organ jutting out of a frame. But neither would be permitted on WordPress, because, well, they in some sense show dicks.

The Banksy and the two Temkins are of special interest because they’re wry observations on the relationship between realia and artistic representations of them.

Artististic endnote. A comment by Vadim on AZBlogX:

I have a funny note on censorship regarding these two images. I used to post all my so-called art on the site DeviantArt until a couple of years ago some big corporation bought it, and they started to implement censorship. This time I posted both of these images with a note “it won’t survive long, but check it out while it lasts”. One of these images was removed in a day or so, another is still there. Guess which is which?

The “Banksy” one (the second above) survived. Why? Nobody knows. The policy is not against all penises, only against erect ones (though in real life there is no rhyme nor reason). Maybe the second one is semi-erect? More likely, the AI recognized the first one and did not recognize the second. IMHO both images are funny and a little disturbing, but not pornographic, nor even erotic – there is not much eroticism in dismembered members

Vadim and I are both unabashed fans of penises. However, he draws some significant lines in the interpretation of penis images. And I have written repeatedly about the dead quality of images of disembodied dicks, erect or not. Some are aesthetically satisfying, some risible, and some creepy — I find Vadim’s Banksy play both very funny and decidedly disturbing — but to my eyes, very few are in any way erotic, and making that judgment requires supplying some cultural context for them. That human context is all-important, and that’s why the AI programs are so damned frustrating.

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