As Laura Mulvey created her term of the male gaze, she exploits this through the female gaze; a female POV. She introduced this way of looking through her essay “Visual Pleasures and Narrative Cinema”. Mulvey didn’t address the female gaze terminology but “she did speak out against what she called the “male gaze” in Hitchcock’s Rear Mirror: a pervy, objectifying lens that turns women into sex objects to be dominated and consumed.” (Lopatko, 2019). It becomes about the way women are depicted to be seen/viewed, especially “with the magic of Hollywood style” (Mulvey, 1973, p 58). Mulvey writes, how the screen is “subjecting them to a controlling and curious gaze” (Mulvey, 1973, p 59), enrooting a fixation upon women and the way they are presented as though that is how they should be continually treated outside of the cinema. Mulvey’s essay allowed all genders to be fronted with the issues of sexual objectification of women.
This quotation from TheArtGorgeous made me reevaluate my work and see that through the female gaze is the way I work. It’s giving viewers the insight to how we as women perceive things that happen to us. As Mulvey also wrote “she is isolated, glamorous, on display, sexualised” (Mulvey, 1973, p 64) – this brought up thoughts within my practice, again relating to Consuming and Consuming 2 which was recently mentioned in my 1-1. I aim to continue projection and installation with interesting films below to exploit this ‘display’.
I want to play with this idea that we as women are still effected by the male gaze and patriarchy and may always will be. As I said previously my 1-1 with Jane it made me reflect on my L6 work, it’s continually related back to Consuming and I wanted to address this and revisit it by creating a new one. Last year I had in mind to create life like breasts (with food colouring) that would be eaten instead of white icing and to try different angles, but due to lockdown 2020 I was unable to do this with the model my boyfriend. So now I have decided to recreate these ideas in preparation for some projection and installation experimentation. See the documentation of making icing breasts below: (it was a challenge to get the correct range of tones with colouring instead of paint!)
Reflection 21/04/21: After my 1-1 with Catinca, we discussed the impact the film has once you know the relationship to artists/model, the male in the films below is my boyfriend and then with this comes this comfortable element that seems to be lost as soon as the film becomes black and white in Sweet Tooth B&W, aggressive/destructive, looses its familiarity.
Reflection 26/05/21: Following my 1-1 with Jane today we discussed the fact I have directed the male to put and bite down on the breast in his mouth. If this was a males instruction/direction the outcome/appearance/feel of the film would be completely different. With this idea in mind the work feels female dominant in the sense of myself having control over the male in the film and essentially the breast. With this take, it feel female empowering by then exploiting the consumption of a female (breast) by a male, showing the issues withal control. But then I have to question, does it also encourage sexual objectification? Based off of feedback from 1-1s and group crits with my peers/tutors, the men said they felt disgusted – so, does the imagery/act of male control/sexual objectification disgust the men? Or is it just the film, and that is all?
Within this film above, I really wanted to focus in on the teeth biting into the icing breast, colouring the icing to represent a realistic breast to add depth of disturbance.
The small bite directly down into the breast and nipple plays with the title and the imagery – this was my favourite part, it feels tense. This emotion is then continued through the whole film as you then watch the male chew continually and you can slightly hear this in the background. Adds disgust to the uncomfortable setting already there. The still image from this film is very aggressive.
I edited Just a Nibble further, focusing on the action of biting, zooming in slowly – this is only a 10 second clip but will be a continual looped projection. I focused on the close up frame of the eating mouth, see below in Just a Nibble or Two, the forced visual of a repeating bite into the icing breast. There is the play off of the material too, icing = desirable material/food, a treat/topper that is added to desserts, it plays with the display of women being desirables objects for men to consume. I aimed to represent this by working with the space. I aim edit these films to play off the uncomfortable element, to force this visual through the female gaze to all viewers.
Reflection 19/04/21: Currently I am projecting Sweet Tooth B&W as a loop, reflecting from previous group cries, they have said there’s this captivating quality where you become unsure if the film will change, if you leave you might miss something.
See my initial notes/ideas below while I was creating the films and reflecting:
With To Bite below, I wanted to zone into the biting down of the breast. Placed it in between the teeth to visualise the slow destruction of the breast. “she is isolated, glamorised, on display, sexualised” (Mulvey, 1973, p64) resembles with the one breast is sat between the males teeth, alone, on display and sexualised in its position with moisture. As the breast is being bitten into, the lips almost swallow the breast as though it is trapped. Suggests ideas of women being trapped under the male gaze/patriarchy? Like Mulvey explores the “traditional exhibitionist role women are simultaneously looked at and displayed” (Mulvey, 1973, p 62). The mouth of the man almost swallowing the breasts suggests… Will women always trapped and tied to sexual objectification? And only seen for the intimate areas of the body?
Reflection 21/04/21: To Bite has become a very successful piece, it’s face on, more daunting/personal, as though you shouldn’t be looking directly at the mouth. I have used To Bite within Sweet Tooth B&W projections using cellophane to glorify this image of women being consumed by men as a desirable, like the cinema exploits.
Reflection 15/03/21: I am using To Bite within the print workshop – the pink and yellow inks project this glamorisation of female consumption in a new way to the use of cellophane.
To take this film further I edited it similarly to how Just a Nibble or Two was done. In To Bite Again and Again zones into the chomps and the lips encapsulating the breasts to see what effect it has. Mouths are unique and personal, similar to how I explored hands in Only Touch With CLEAN Hands, everyones mouth has its way of moving. See below in To Bite Again and Again:
Reflection 21/04/21: Following my 1-1 with Gary 15/04/21 of Sweet Tooth B&W, from To Bite, there’s this weird feeling of watching someone eat – Freudian approach which feels visceral as mouths are sexualised and fetishised. The film becomes compact with questions and theories.
I slowed this piece down – you notice the mouth movements as well as the skin and the face trying to capture the breast, followed by the wet from the mouth covering the breast creating a peculiar glisten. It adds to the effort of biting into it and also suggests a glamourised visual of the act and breast? – I think this film would make a successful installation as a projection. Immersive/filling the space for the viewer, especially with two surrounding projectors and a large size of this film – slightly off centre these films will create this repetition and peculiar infinity like feel. Make the viewer feel small, that they have to watch. As repetition is a strong theme present, suggests ideas as Yayoi Kasuma Infinity Mirror series.
- Fabrics/paper (Kieran experimented with this during the Congruous exhibition and I’d like to try)/board in the space use to distort the projection of the film, could make it even more unsettling?
In Biting I took To Bite Again and Again further to work with different ways to capture the act of biting e.g. zooming within the film, key burns, slow motion to intrigue the viewer, to see what is really happening, like Are You Watching?. I liked the exploration of different angles within the film frame, get to see more of the face, mouth and angle of how the icing breasts are eaten.
Reflection 26/05/21: Last year in level 5 I explored the natural female forms representation and the empowerment it has. I celebrated different body shapes/breast shapes in reflection to how we both see ourselves as well as each other using mirrors, coloured light in regards to the natural elements of the body. With this it slowly developed into the ‘grotesque’ and the side of the form we don’t often see/celebrate. Growing into level 6, I aimed to take this grotesque element further by accentuating it and especially recently within my b&w film, it has explored the flip side/dark side to the female form that naturally follows = sexual objectification when it comes to the male gaze/cinema/control.
I wanted to include the act ‘To Squeeze’ (December reflection of To Squeeze), reminded me of my Richard Serra research. I wanted to capture the squeeze and the chomping for an extra impact on the viewers and the icing breast. I left this breasts colour slightly unmixed, you can see in Chomp Chomp below, that when its squeezed it helps add to the realism and skin like texture. It almost changes material – what is it? There’s something quite aggressive about this film that isn’t as such in the others. The hand grip and the tension in the jaw, it all feels very male dominated which is the male gaze and patriarchy which are of course important themes. Sexual connotations present life like breast being bitten into. Very clear visual of women being food for consumption/desirables – larger icing breast makes it less sweet like in To Bite.
Reflection 12/03/21: From my 1-1 with Jane, we discussed how the laughing in-between Chomp Chomp is off putting, too weird/too much? The act of biting and squeezing is enough.
Reflection 17/03/21: However, this also has a peculiar impact rewatching after hearing the news of Sarah Everard, it feels even darker, sad and scary all at the same time. Imagery of men happily indulging into women. Does it become offensive? Yes, I don’t like it now. I agree with Jane, the biting and squeezing is enough.
Exploring the male control that is over women and their bodies? Feels strange when there is a lot of edited slowed/repetition/reversed pieces in the film, you’re forced to look and observe similar to the way Kruger’s Your Gaze Hits the Side of My Face attracts viewers to consider the gazes’ impact.
- Intensifying the sound when I project to hear the chewing
- Edit the colouration – more intense/in the viewers face?
- Think about the space – fabric, objects in the way, sculptures of breasts in place?
Reflection 30/03/21: I am currently working with no sound, no distraction and it’s feels more impactful, the focus in on the mouth/the act of chewing.
Reflection 15/04/21: My 1-1 with Gary 15/04/21 explored how you imagine the sound of chewing, even though it’s silent, becomes a phycological impact as though you should be hearing the noise.