Introducing a concept: Hortiporn

What is Hortipornography? We can do no better than consult the word’s coiners – Dr. Paul Hewer, now Senior Lecturer in Marketing at Strathclyde University, Scotland, and Professor Douglas Brownlie, at the University of Stirling, Scotland, who originated the term in their paper ‘Constructing Hortiporn: On the Aesthetics of Stylized Exteriors’ (in: Advances in Consumer Research, Vol 33, pp. 36-42)

JoeSwiftGardenDesignWalk through many large bookstores to the section now known as ‘lifestyles’ and you will find crowded shelves of glossy gardening books competing to attract and hold your attention and spending power. Open some of those books and you will immediately be struck by their meritorious production values: glamorous photographic images of enchantingly aestheticized spaces not only decorate the text, they punctuate it, revealing the carefully deployed hands of designer calculation and the expensive grammar of fine art photography. In this sense such texts are purposefully landscaped, i.e. designed, moulded and assembled so as to provide a very particular vista, deeply enmeshed within dominant regimes of meaning. We understand this as one moment in the historical process of the ‘aesthetic fetishising’, the hortipornography of gardens and gardening.”

By way of example, the authors cite the work of award-winning garden designer and TV presenter Joe Swift, whose oeuvre is analysed from several different angles in the paper (Foucault & etc).

NOTE: Sadly, the essay doesn’t include any hortipornographic photography or drawings of any kind, so Improbable encourages readers who might be interested in hortipornography (purely from an academic viewpoint of course) to browse Mr. Swift’s website (from which the luscious photo above is taken).

BONUSes : The same research team have also produced a considerable body of work on ‘Gastroporn’, particularly focussing on TV celebrity chef Nigella Lawson, e.g. “(Re)covering” the spectacular domestic : culinary cultures, the feminine mundane and brand Nigella (in: Advertising & Society Review Vol 12, No. 2) “… the staged televisual spectacle of Nigella dipping her forefinger teasingly into a warm nest of chocolate will clearly remind you of the nexus of food, sex and femininity”.

Here are some authentic video clips showing Nigella in action . . .

. . . and, a probably not-so-authentic video clip






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