Check Out All These Old, Greek Balls from the Photo Collection Marbles

Illustration for article titled Check Out All These Old, Greek Balls from the Photo Collection emMarbles/em

If you want to see some old, Greek balls close-up, check out the recent photo series Marbles from London-based photographer Ingrid Berthon-Moine. Marbles is pretty self-evident, but, just in case you’re treating these as monochromatic Magic Eyes, the collection features “closely cropped shots of classic Greek sculptures and specific parts of the male anatomy” taken with the intention of “producing an indecipherable photograph oscillating between landscape and medical documentation.”

From Feature Shoot:

The work explores masculinity in the 21st century, both the representation of it and the idea of ornamental masculinity which until now had been largely ‘reserved’ to the female gender. It also looks at how masculinity has shifted over time, and how men have had to redefine their identity as society changes.

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So, basically, it’s a high art take on Abby Elliott and Sarah Schneider’s seminal (hehe) music video.

[Feature Shoot]

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DISCUSSION

For those interested, there is the article "Scrotal Asymmetry in Sculpture and in man" (1976) published in the journal Nature by IC McManus (University College London) on why Greek sculptures always get the positioning of the scrotum wrong (in real life, the right ball is generally larger and hangs higher than the left one; the sculptors generally managed to chisel the right ball higher, but they keep mistakenly making the left ball larger). After an exhaustive study of 107 ancient Greek statues, the researcher concluded that the sculptors probably assumed that the larger and heavier ball should should hang lower. McManus won the 2002 Ig Nobel in Biology for this work.

We shall let the man himself (and Stephen Fry) explain:

And he also penned the 2004 follow-up: "Right-Left and the Scrotum in Greek Sculpture" in the journal Laterality.

Abstract: The scrotum in humans is asymmetric, the right testicle being visibly higher than the left in most men. Paradoxically, it is also the case that the right testicle is somewhat larger, rather than smaller, as might be expected. Greek classical and pre-classical art, which took great care in its attention to anatomical detail, correctly portrayed the right testicle as the higher, but then incorrectly portrayed the left testicle as visibly larger. The implication is that the Greeks used a simple mechanical theory, the left testicle being thought to be lower because it was larger and hence more subject to the pull of gravity. The present study examines data on scrotal asymmetry in more detail, and puts them in the context of Greek theories of functional differences between the right side and the left side.