Just when I start to think there’s no shock value left on the internet, I come across something that makes me marvel at human ingenuity. Case in point: Nutscaping. Nuts, as in balls/testes, and -scaping, as in landscapes, equals picturesque images that gained an avid following on Instagram before the account was shut down last week for violating their terms of service by the notoriously censorious social media company.
But that hasn’t stopped Nutscapes creator Clancy Philbrick from posting on Tumblr and Twitter (it’s unclear if Philbrick is also behind a Nutscapes Facebook account). A natural question might be the one asked on Twitter: “Dear guys, just...why? It's all we want to know...”
Well, Philbrick has an answer, which I can summarize with: because he can. He told The Daily Dot that while shooting “typical landscape photography” in New Zealand, the grandeur of a concave glacier gave him the idea. “The next thing I knew, I was taking a picture of my balls dipping into the negative space above the glacier. Unfortunately this original Nutscape was lost when my old hard-drive crashed,” he said. And from there, a new photo meme was born.
What impresses me about them is that Philbrick clearly wants reverence for nature to be the main theme. Nutscapes aren’t just about shock value, but about combining dexterity with a visual eye and paying homage to the great outdoors, as befitting someone who quotes John Muir. He even gives simple four-part instructions on how to take a Nutscape photo (step 1: “Find yourself somewhere awesome.”) This isn’t the same as getting naked at Machu Picchu. It goes a little deeper than that. Philbrick told The Daily Dot, “It definitely takes some courage, vulnerability and skill to properly to execute.”
I see it on par with the (very NSFW) Tumblr Things My Dick Does, but marginally more safe for work, and requiring the photographer to leave their home. Nutscapes are a challenge to the often monotonous selfie-stick-snapped shots of tourists in front of yet another mind-blowing tourist attraction. It’s easy to feel inured to nature when you feel like you’ve seen umpteen variations of the same selfie (such as the Eiffel Tower and Leaning Tower of Pisa). Nustcapes force the viewer to wonder if anyone else was around, if the person taking it got their Nustcape in one shot, or had to do multiple takes, and simply laugh at the absurdity of adding balls to a mountain range, sunset or farmland with grazing cows. And for the moment, they’ve got novelty on their side.
Of their appeal, Philbrick told Mashable, “I believe Nutscapes has great artistic depth because it touches upon both a low-brow vulgarity and a high-brow concept. Simply, testes are f*cking funny. Always have been; always will be. They add humor to a subject matter, landscape photography, that is typically a little dry.” And let’s face it—when so much of the news is atrocious, who can resist laughing at someone’s balls dangling in the open air?
And even though the photo project is seemingly just for fun, they’ve gotten a teeny bit political post-Instagram-banning, with the Nutscapes Twitter account giving the Free the Nipple movement a shoutout. As long as no one gets hurt taking one, I’m all for this trend.