The gesture must be correct. If the gesture is correct, your mind really creates the reality of the figure, and it is not necessary to hang on all the rest [of the details]… -Nathan Oliveira
Latent nudity preys upon the mind’s ability to create stories and images from a mere suggestion. What our eyes don’t quite see, that portion of an image that’s just barely hidden, our minds automatically fill. There’s not a nipple in the picture, but we think we see one. There’s a flaw in the background, but our eyes miss that entirely. Step away from the image, wait five or ten minutes, and then try to describe it to someone else. Chances are your description will be different, often dramatically more detailed, than what actually exists. We want to see more of the picture, so our amazingly powerful brains give us what we want.
Unfortunately, in a world where everyone has the ability to report images on social media, thereby imposing their morality on others without asking, creative minds that add things to pictures is not wonderful. How many thousands of pictures have been deleted mistakenly because, at first glance, someone thought they saw nudity when the person was actually wearing a swimsuit? How many thousands of people have had their accounts suspended because someone who just glanced at a picture reported it for something that wasn’t there? Social media’s morality policing fails because latent imagery tricks the mind and those inclined to be offended become so without cause.
When social media first began, I went along with a large number of other photographers and artists who were anxious to display as many of our images as possible to what we were sure would be a waiting and appreciative world. Certainly, social media would provide us with the platform we needed to get our work noticed, to break out from the crowd, to finally get the attention we deserve. We dumped everything we could onto our social media pages to the point of excess. What we discovered was painful. No one looking at images online wanted to take the time to actually study a picture. Instead, they glance at a thumbnail, click some icon representing approval, and move on. Ten minutes later, they don’t remember the content of the pictures at all.
I am increasingly convinced that latent imagery, or any works that need to be studied to be fully appreciated, are best left to wall displays or books rather than social media presentations. Brains are not going to change the way they work simply because the results produce some level of angst or disappointment on my part. We can rail about artistic insensitivity and failure to pay attention all we want, but we don’t have the ability to change what the mind does automatically. We can’t change reality. We don’t even know what reality is.