Nicholas Noisenest – glamourmatic glowstick . subclitoral squirt gun (2012)
Believe it or not–despite my many misspellings, myriad grammatical errors and the fact that I routinely forget to include the sort of quantum connective tissue that connects my various notions–I am exceedingly self-conscious about my writing.
So I’m aware that by this point it’s almost a formula for this blog: I start of a post saying I really don’t like X, Y and Z but I’m super down with P, D and Q.
Yeah, yeah–sometimes I invert the order but mostly with the exception of the confessional personal posts or unmediated compositional analysis, I’m an appallingly predictable writer.
For example: the only way I know how to approach the above image is by first subtracting the things I (strongly) dislike about it. The combination of monochrome and strobe clearly asserts an affection for Nobuyoshi Araki’s Tokyo Lucky Hole.
There’s less than no love lost between Araki and myself. But from a technical standpoint this isn’t even thoughtfully derivative work–yes, Araki was using flash and B&W to capture salacious scenes but despite my distaste for most of his work, you can’t dispute the man’s tech chops. Whereas Noisenest–while at least not using the strobe mounted on his device, positions it in such a way that it casts an obtrusive shadow behind the woman. (It’s also #skinnyframebullshit.)
And for a work that appears so self-conscious about its family resemblance, the execution with the strong and the stylized tonal gradation, all work at cross purposes given the Araki impetus. (Araki is afterall and if nothing else grossly immediate in his presentation.)
However, all these (admittedly damning) critiques aside, it does strike me that this instinctively gets something about erotic photography that I haven’t realized before–specifically with regard to ostensible depictions of masturbation; namely: there’s a knee-jerk tendency to frame the scene as something habitual instead of something novel.
The distinction I am trying to draw is that we tend to make work featuring folks masturbating in bedrooms or bathrooms–spaces that exist hand in hand with a degree of personal privacy. Thus, images produced given that sort of framing, tend to serve more as mirrorrs; the viewer responds to them based on their response to the person depicted.
While that is probably an honest depiction of probably about 65% of masturbatory experience, there’s also the part that is experimental and boundary transgressive. The instinct that doesn’t want to be caught but wants to press up against the notion of this is private and that is public and never the twain shall meet.
I mean I don’t think I’m the only one who has masturbated in strange places either because the moment felt right to do so or a libidinal itch demanded scratching without recourse to all the locks and catches of safe privacy.
And I think there are certainly ways of hybridizing these two extremes, but I think if you can’t be bothered to present indications of a fully developed, three dimensional individual when depicting masturbation, that you can at least bother to recall the sense of urgency that drove you to transgress boundaries and use that as a conceptual starting point.
What Noisenest intended to do that with this image or not, he succeeds stunningly in at least that one regard.