Thursday, February 10, 2011

Polaroids and the InstaNude

In many ways, the nature of the Polaroid nude is a lot like the nature of the digital nude.  It offered the average every day person an avenue by which to capture their nude likeness.  With Polaroids and digital photos, alike, couples can act out fantasies.  Men and women could have the joy of having their own partner in their personal pornography collection.

The Polaroid opened the door for amateur nudes. It allowed for a personal experience with a very personal setting.  The shots could be taken, developed and viewed without the embarrassment of having to enter a photomat cloaked in a hoodie and shades.  They offered the ultimate in privacy in nude photography.  A polaroid, like a digital image has the possibility of only having one viewer.  In all, likelihood, the average Polaroid had at least two viewers.

While the personal, private nature is one common characteristic between the Polaroid and digital photo, the opportunity for mass exposure is where the two forms differ greatly.  The chances of a Polaroid being mailed off, printed and seen en masse was highly unlikely.  The amateur nude model/photographer of the 80s needed only worry about the possible embarrassment of a parent or child stumbling upon the shoebox in which the nudes were stored.  The amateur of the digital age has a whole different bag of worries.  Nowadays, it's become all too likely to open a gossip page or online news page and find the text/email/FB message/Twitpic bearing the nude likeness of a celebrity or politician.  And, with sites like Amateurs Gone Wild, even the average person stands a chance at/risk of being posted for millions to see.

The Polaroid nude and the digital nude exist for very similar reasons.  They offer an intimate way to be the voyeur and the subject without having to enter into a new profession and without having to date a porn star.  So, while the intent behind the Polaroid nude and the digital nude are very similar, the consequences have changed greatly over the years. What was once an intimate gesture stored in the shoe box under one's bed is now the intimate gesture that can accessed by anyone with a few simple strokes of the keyboard.

Even though they generally bare the same poses and images, the Polaroid nude and the digital nude have a wholly different feel.  There is a certain innocence behind the Polaroid that does not exist with its digital counterpart.  The intent is lost and the possible consequence takes on the major role.  There is a risk in the digital nude that was more minute in the instant nudes of the past.  Perhaps this adds a new allure, but it definitely sets the two categories apart.

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