Is it Time to Audit the Auditors? Why Facebook Blocked Our Most Popular Post To Date (NSFW)

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Last week, we published our most viral post to date: Nude Bodies Transform From Flattering To Unflattering With Slight Shift In Pose (NSFW). After gaining momentum on Facebook and accruing a considerable amount of traffic, we were notified that the post violated Facebook’s Community Standards. The (incredibly vague) policy states,

“Facebook has a strict policy against the sharing of pornographic content and any explicitly sexual content where a minor is involved. We also impose limitations on the display of nudity. We aspire to respect people’s right to share content of personal importance, whether those are photos of a sculpture like Michelangelo’s David or family photos of a child breastfeeding.”

Should this apply to nudes that are part of an artistic endeavor, or “content of personal importance,” such as Gracie Hagen’s photographs (featured above)? Why has Facebook never flagged any other post of ours, others of which also feature a comparable amount of nudity (featured below)?

It’s safe to assume that our post was targeted because it received viral Facebook exposure, inviting the scrutiny of many Facebook users who may or may not recognize nudity’s artistic value – any Facebook user can flag a post as inappropriate and subject that post to the review of Facebook’s moderators. Who are Facebook’s moderators? They are (unsurprisingly) employees who are outsourced to 3rd world countries, where they typically receive around $1/hour for the work of wading through what is sure to be the dirtiest and unsettling parts of the internet. Once a moderator receives a flagged post, they can confirm it’s a violation, dismiss it, or escalate it. (Escalation is reserved for posts that could be illegal or are remarkably insidious). Moderators are to follow a detailed guidebook, first uncovered by Gawker, which specifically states, “Art nudity ok” with regard to nudity on Facebook. (Though experience suggests Facebook may only consider illustrations and sculptures of nudes okay.)

Lionel Richie Song Lyrics Embroidered On Discarded Furniture Found In The Street

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During the summer, Milwaukee-based fiber artist Molly Evans began to rise early in the morning, on the hunt for discarded furniture to embroider with lyrics from  Lionel Richie songs. Dubbed “#LionelStitchie,” her project first began when she set out to entertain a grumpy neighbor by transforming their abandoned, seemingly unlovable couch into something more lovable. She has since embroidered many discarded pieces with these love lyrics, giving a voice to unwanted domestic objects.

‘These bulky discards were the remains of university graduates moving on to new chapters, of families starting over with fresh styles, and of people letting go of emotional attachments to tired possessions. I identified with this process of reestablishment and sought to call attention to this important narrative in progress all around the city,’ Molly explains.(via ignant)

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Patrick Gries’ Photographs Of Skeletons Combine Art and Scientific Inquiry About Evolution

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Patrick Gries’ collection of skeletal photographs are part of his book, “Evolution,” that seeks to make the case for evolutionary theory in a way that has not yet been captured so eloquently through the medium of photography. The project spanned 6 months and involved Gries shooting the photographs of over 250 skeletons at The Museum of Natural History in Paris, as well as 4 other locations in France. These monochrome photographs of skeletons were shot with strong directional light and appear almost sculptural in their presentation, asking viewers to consider the boundaries of scientific study and aesthetic event.

In the book, Gries’ photographs are accompanied with text written by scientist, documentarian, and professor emeritus at Paris’ Museum of Natural History, Dr. Jean-Baptiste de Panafieu. This text describes the skeletons, suggesting how to understand them in the context of history and the patterns of evolution. “New forms have evolved from old ones. Stubby amphibian feet have been transformed into hooves, bird wings and whale flippers. Yet many of the bones in those original limbs have not changed their relationship to the rest. They have just been stretched, flattened or reduced to vestigial knobs. Along the paths of evolution, the vertebrate skeleton has been transformed into similar forms many times over — aardvarks in Africa and anteaters in South America.” You can purchase and see more photographs at Éditions Xavier Barral. (via unknown editors, ny times, and the guardian )

Pro Infirmis Raises Body Diversity Awareness With “Disabled” Mannequins

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Pro Infirmis, a Swiss charity organization for people with disabilities, has created a series of mannequins that reflect bodies of people with physical disabilities for a project titled, “Because Who is Perfect? Get Closer.” The process of measuring the bodies of 5 people and sculpting the mannequins was captured by director Alain Gspone in this moving 4 minute film. The reactions of each person upon seeing their mannequin are also captured, with one woman remarking, “It’s special to see yourself like this, when you usually can’t look at yourself in the mirror.” For people not used to seeing reflections of their body types in the commercial world, these new mannequins create an empowering experience by providing a platform of visibility in an industry that so often neglects to represent the diversity of bodies.

After the mannequins were created, they were placed in Zurich store fronts, on a popular downtown shopping street, Bahnhofstrasse, in honor of International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The video shows a range reactions of people as they walk by the store front, captivated by these new mannequins.

Through this project, Pro Infirmis wishes to raise awareness of the lack of representation of people with disabilities, especially in the world of fashion and retail. You can find more photos and information about the project on Photopress.  (via the huffington post and the daily mail)

Nude Bodies Transform From Flattering To Unflattering With Slight Shift In Pose (NSFW)

Nude Bodies

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gracie hagen Nude Bodies

Chicago-based artist Gracie Hagen has created a photography series titled “Illusions of the Body” that captures nude bodies in contrasting poses. In the “attractive” image on the left, the models represent their bodies with straight backs, pulled-back shoulders, and demure expressions – many of them stand posed in positions that reflect classical sculpture. In the “unattractive” image on the right, the bodies are turned and the models push out their stomachs, hunch their backs, and evoke expressions of indifference.

 

From Hagen’s Tumblr:

“‘Illusions of the Body’” was made to tackle the supposed norms of what we think our bodies are supposed to look like. Most of us realize that the media displays only the prettiest photos of people, yet we compare ourselves to those images. We never get to see those photos juxtaposed against a picture of that same person looking unflattering. That contrast would help a lot of body image issues we as a culture have.

 

Within the series I tried get a range of body types, ethnicities & genders to show how everyone is a different shape & size; there is no “normal”. Each photo was taken with the same lighting & the same angle.

Celebrate your shapes, sizes & the odd contortions your body can get itself into. The human body is a weird & beautiful thing.”

 

 

“Vaginal Knitting” As Activist Performance Art

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casey Jenkins vaginal knitting

Melbourne based artist Casey Jenkins is a self-described “craftivist” who founded Craft Cartel, an organization that seeks to combine crafting and political activism, in 2007. “Craft imbues you with power because you’re forced to contemplate the issue you’re addressing. It’s very reflective in a sense of when you put that message out into the world, people know you must really care because you’ve devoted that much time to it,” Jenkins says.

Jenkins’ most recent performance project, “Casting Off My Womb” (Aussie TV calls it “Vaginal Knitting”) involves the artist spending 28 days (the average length of a menstrual cycle) knitting from a new skein of wool that she has placed inside of her vagina each day. Jenkins explains that her performance would not be a performance if she didn’t include menstruation. While she is menstruating, Jenkins says it becomes more difficult to knit because the wool is wet, and she has to tug on the thread a bit harder. Overall, though, she claims the process is slightly uncomfortable, but can also be arousing at times. For Jenkins, she enjoys that her performance associates the vulva – something that can be found offensive or vulgar or invoke a level of fear – with the comfort and warmth that knitting provides and evokes.

“The fact that [cunt's] considered the most offensive word in the English language is a real marker of the time that we’re living and of the society’s attitude towards woman. There’s nothing possibly negative about it. It’s just a deep, warm and delightful part of the female anatomy.”

As Gawker notes, this performance is reminiscent of other feminist performance pieces like Yoko Ono’s “Cut Piece,” Carolee Schneeman’s “Internal Scroll,” or even Mary Kelly’s pre- and post-partum documents, so Jenkins is not necessarily a trailblazer in the context of this aesthetic; however, that fact that pieces like this still shock and provoke viewers means that there is still much work to be done in the movement to empower women and destigmatize female anatomy. (via gawker and broadsheet)

Bizarre Art Project Creates Human Cheese Out Of Skin And Tears

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Microbiologist Christina Agapakis and scent artist Sissel Tolaas‘ science-meets-art project “Self Made” seeks to challenge the way we think about microbes, scent, and the nature of disgust. Most cheese is made by taking milk and spoiling it with the bacteria, Lactobacillus. This bacteria transform milk sugars into acid, causing it to coagulate. The chunks are removed from the liquid and aged with specific yeast that creates specific cheeses. Lactobacillus and yeast can be found all around us, including our own skin. Agapakis and Tolaas take microbes from people’s skin – like Michael Pollan’s belly button or artist Olafur Eliasson’s tears – and add them to milk in order to create a human microbial cheese portrait (a cheese selfie?).

“The idea was to recognize, how do we get grossed out? Then to think about it and move beyond that initial idea of disgust,” Agapakis says. “Why are we more uncomfortable with bacteria on the body than we are with bacteria in cheese?”

From the artists’ statement, “Many of the stinkiest cheeses are hosts to species of bacteria closely related to the bacteria responsible for the characteristic smells of human armpits or feet. Can knowledge and tolerance of bacterial cultures in our food improve tolerance of the bacteria on our bodies? How do humans cultivate and value bacterial cultures on cheeses and fermented foods? How will synthetic biology change with a better understanding of how species of bacteria work together in nature as opposed to the pure cultures of the lab?”

“Self Made” is currently on view (and smell – the project is for thinking, not eating) at Gallery Science in Dublin until January 2014 as part of the “Grow Your Own” exhibition along with other synthetic biology projects including a mouse cloned from Elvis Presley’s DNA, a yogurt drink that yields disease-diagnosing feces, and a project that proposes a future in which humans could give birth to endangered species. (via huffington post, npr, and la times).

Internet Cat Craze Inspires Handmade Embroidered Dress Shirts

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Internet Cat embroidery

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Hiroko Kubota is a prolific embroiderer whose latest project of embroidering cats onto dress shirts has caused the cat-loving internet community to swoon. Kubota stitches cats who peek over and through shirt pockets and openings, giving plain dress shirts an adorable and unique accent. Her project began when her son – a cat-lover and collector of internet cat images – requested that she embroider some cats from his collection onto some shirts she made for him. After posting her work on the internet, her project quickly became popular and of high demand. Kubota then decided to put some of her shirts up for sell on Etsy, but her handiwork could not keep up with the demand – even at a hefty price tag of $250-300 apiece. Kubota also embroiders other figures, such as fish, Pokemon characters, dogs, and flowers onto a variety of objects. You can check out more images of her work on Flickr. (via colossal)