Portrait of a Novelist… Drunk!
Kofi Fosu Forson
James Joyce, the cool slant… that is love.
The official portrait of James Joyce on the back cover of a book… that is love! Samuel Beckett, wise as an owl! Sam Sheperd, how the west will always be won!
Portrait of an author on the back page of a book…With what discipline do they manage to capture our hearts, staring desperately into a photographer’s camera?
What was on Beckett’s mind? Does Sheperd truly dream of horses? Erica Jong… Is it safe for the male to be drawn to an author, masculine, not homosexually but by love of character, likeness to the “cool,” much the way a sixteen year old admires the way Reggie Jackson swings a baseball bat? I don’t love Sam Sheperd. I like the picture of him on the cover of his book of plays.
Men are given to means of attraction for other men. It’s not sexual. It pertains to the love for the other person’s character, talent, style or fame…Also indirectly, there’s an affinity to what the other man represents, whether it’s Christianity or male independence.
Erica Jong. I think of my favorite picture of Erica Jong. She’s always smiling. Her lips are incredibly full. There’s seduction in those eyes. Am I tempted to slowly rub my inner thigh? Should the image of Erica Jong on the cover of a book cause my mouth to water?
What is Design Porn? Advertism begets the process with which a company markets a product to the general public. In doing so, many lengths are drawn to fascinate the angles that would lead to a purchase. What then is the notion behind Erica Jong’s photograph selling a novel? She’s the least bit comparable to a swim suit model. But why am I turned on enough to want to buy her book?
Generally, products are marketed based on a demographic. It gives an understanding of who, what and how to sell. Certain ploys are implemented, as in taste, color, shape, expression, design, models, ethnicity or the all too familiar portrait of a novelist on a book flap.
What is taken into contention concerning the pose of the author?
In the case of Erica Jong, it’s a means of suggestiveness. Her eyes are seductive. They stare right at the camera. Sexuality is used to titillate the buyer. If female, then one would suppose something else. But these are all subliminal messages sent to the general public. What would happen if Erica Jong posed for the picture…drunk?! Then she would be marketed to another demographic. Anything goes!
In the world of magazines, especially where fashion meets art, design porn is prevalent. The models are angled if not by pose then by set up, as in a teenaged black boy standing next to an older white woman. Given their age and race, they would have nothing in common, not if one was to suppose what he’s wearing, (a suit) and how she bares her cleavage.
With the success and popularity of a younger set of pop stars and actors, popular culture, including music, fashion and cinema has put a stranglehold on how anything is marketed. There are continuous hints of BDSM, bestiality, lesbianism and homo-eros.
The origin of Design Porn is rooted in earlier works by artists like Man Ray and Mapplethorpe. What it becomes is a combination of fashion and sexuality. In a world of fetish and other sexual probabilities, the marketing world has more ways, people and reasons to market everything from vodka to umbrellas.