CINCINNATI, OCT. 4 -- After a prolonged legal skirmish over her credentials, prosecution witness Judith Reisman took the stand in the Mapplethorpe trial today and said the five photographs that led to obscenity charges do not meet her definition of art because they do not express human feeling.

She also testified that two portraits of children are "sexualized" and that hanging such pictures in a museum places children at greater risk of being subjected to sexual abuse.

The defense had protested that Reisman is not qualified as an expert witness in the case since she has little training in art. But Judge David Albanese permitted her to testify after reviewing the prosecution's questions. He repeated an admonition to the jury that it must evaluate the credibility of witnesses.

Prosecutor Frank Prouty asked Reisman, who holds a doctorate in speech communication, to apply "content analysis" techniques to the five pictures that led to obscenity charges against the Contemporary Arts Center and its director, Dennis Barrie.

Reisman turned first to a picture of a fist and forearm inserted into a man's rectum. "There is no face, there are no eyes, there is no aspect of the human body that would tell us anything about human emotion or feeling," she said. "This is an anonymous picture."

Reisman traced the contours of the image with her hands as she spoke. "Human emotion would require that there be some expression of joy, anger, fear, horror, shame, surprise, happiness, sadness, interest or distress in this particular photograph," she continued. "I challenge anyone to identify {those emotions}."

Reisman invoked the lighting techniques of Ansel Adams in explaining her analysis of another photograph showing a finger inserted in a penis.

She said the lighting puts the focus on the head of the penis, which is "almost cameoed." Again, Reisman observed, the picture did not convey human emotion.

Reisman acknowledged that a self-portrait of Mapplethorpe with a bullwhip in his rectum shows his face, but said, "It appears to be almost blank. It's 'I am here.' ... That would suggest that what he is in fact doing here is a painless or appropriate act."

The message that the activity depicted is appropriate is not diminished if the picture hangs in a gallery, she said. The viewer would assume that "a museum would not honor an abusive photograph that does not have redeeming value," she explained.

Reisman, who did a controversial study on the links between child abuse and the portrayal of children in Playboy, Penthouse and Hustler magazines, offered her analyses of two children's portraits that led to indictments for displaying depictions of nude minors.

One depicts a little girl crouching, her dress falling in such a manner that her genitals are visible. "If you follow the lines of the little girl's leg going down ... the foot is flat {and} the genitals are extremely visible. The foot points to the genitalia," she said.

"... You have to look at the photograph very carefully. You have to look at the child's face, the way it's tucked into the shirt. And when you look very carefully and just relax and pay attention, {you see} the child should be centered over the vaginal area."

Instead, she observed, the child appears to lean slightly to one side. "It indicates some degree of real strain because children do not sit in that manner," she said.

Turning to a picture of a naked little boy perched on the back of a couch, Reisman said the photograph "is much more clear-cut."

"Is there a contrast of light and dark there?" Prouty asked.

"Exactly," Reisman said.

She resumed: "The lines focus on the child's genitals because the entire background is white, he is white, the lower body is on a horizontal line." She added that an "electrical cord coming in from a diagonal on the side ... is a very disturbing" feature.

The defense has submitted depositions from the mothers of both children stating that they gave Mapplethorpe permission to photograph their children and display the portraits.

But Reisman said frequently, "the use of the child in pornography comes through the consent {of the parent} unless they're kidnapped."

Again, Reisman said that showing the photographs in a museum doesn't diminish the damage. "We are, I think, putting at risk additional children, because many people see themselves as photographers and many people do use the technique of telling children this is appropriate because it's in a museum or a book. That happens to be a ... standardized, codified technique that child sex abusers use to seduce vulnerable kids. These photographs can be used to blackmail these children into other kinds of services."

Reisman, whose re'sume' runs 10 pages, spent several minutes describing her qualifications and awards. Her art background consists primarily of some undergraduate classes at the City College of Los Angeles and "an untypical high school experience" with fashion design and other art classes, she said.

Reisman said she is a professional artist who has "attained demonstrable success as a performance artist." Reisman wrote and performed in music videos for "Captain Kangaroo."

The defense contended that the prosecution, having rested its case several days ago after calling three police officers to the stand, should not now be permitted much latitude in introducing new witnesses.

The only permissible area for further testimony was Mapplethorpe's merit as an artist, contended attorney Louis Sirkin. "The background of having been a songwriter for 'Captain Kangaroo' certainly does not qualify her" to testify in that area, he said.

Defense attorney Marc Mezibov asked Reisman whether she had ever received a valentine and determined that it was "a statement of human emotion."

"The heart is a visual expression of love," she replied.

"If I open a textbook and see a heart, is it saying the doctor loves me?" Mezibov asked. Reisman said she would not assume that a heart in a textbook is a valentine.

"So context has a lot to do with meaning?" Mezibov asked. Defense lawyers have tried to establish that the disputed photographs should be considered in the context of the entire Mapplethorpe exhibit and that materials displayed in a museum, by the nature of the setting, have some value and cannot be obscene.

Sirkin asked Reisman whether she believes sexual acts between two men should be protected by the Constitution. "Are you asking if I believe anal sodomy should be legal?" she said. "Because sexual activity does not necessarily include anal sodomy." She added that anal sodomy is "traumatically dysfunctional" and associated with AIDS. "I couldn't support the concept that anal sodomy should be legal," she said.

Closing arguments in the case are to be heard Friday morning.