Here we are, then, caught in the schematics of desire. It's cold outside, so all the hunky athletes dress up warmly, as they should. Except for the tease of removing outer layers in a restaurant or the suggestion of a bodily contour under drape, the season thwarts the the lover of eye candy and body (as) art.
Thank Heavens for the Internet, then. But it's difficult for me to just rejoice in the digital capture of boi beauty, whether posed or candid. I get bored quickly with just looking, my desire forever deferred to the next (web) page. Before the advent of digital technology, I used to enjoy collaging hunky models from magazines (not ALL of them porn). By "enjoy," I mean the full range of pleasure. Sure, I experienced a prurient titillation in carefully navigating scissors around bicept, razor around buttock. But there was also compositional pleasure of combining shapes, the artist's (or artist wannabe's) fascination with anatomy, shadow, and form.
Now, in this age of pixels and fast download, images not only proliferate, but the capacity to manipulate them increases exponentially. Sure, there's all that worry about copyright and who owns the image. But always around the edges of that concern are people taking out their metaphorical scissors to "rip," "cut," and "edit" for their own pleasure in the making. If I were doing this for money, I might feel guilty. But the eye wanders where it will, and the hand makes what it will. And the internet (Web 2.0) increasingly becomes a place not just of viewing disseminated images (or other information) but also for interacting with those images and sharing the, um, "fruits" of that interaction.
I admit to my queer male gaze, and its tendency to objectify. I notice the world around me, and desire guides my eyes. And yes, it is a desire shaped by my culture. It would be reductive to imagine that my gaze is about sexual conquest only, that I notice what I find attractive because I want to possess it, or even just bed it. My mind is full of fantasies, and not all of them have to do with sex. Some involve color and texture and imagining combinations and compositions. But...is an artist's gaze any less objectifying than a seducer's?
I think I am not alone in my wandering eye that "violates" others by noticing them in public spaces. I think I am not alone in gathering images (or other information) "owned" by others and using them for my own art on the internet. Maybe the prohibitions against doing these sorts of things are silly. Or maybe, just maybe, it's the prohibitions (silly as they are) that add to the fun.