Legs JapanLiquid Masturbation feat. Shino Aoi (2018)

As an image, this is unqualified rubbish–it’s overexposed (the white of the drop cloth is so hot it blows out most of the dimensionality of Aoi’s left side) and other than depicting a naked body covered in goop there’s no readily discernible point to it. (You can click on the link to more of the pics from the series but even once you find out that Aoi lays down on the drop cloth and then is showered in lube and ‘masturbates’, knowing what’s going on and what the goop is honestly adds nothing to the proceedings.)

Why post it then?–Well, it got me thinking about texture. (Or, more accurately: I’ve been thinking more than usual about texture since this post back in June.)

For some reason: the notion that texture in photographs is a kind of sum greater the the total of the parts. This was around the same time I happened across this video from Wired where a musician explains the concept of harmony in five different levels of difficulty.

The musician starts off asking what this obvious bored kid think harmony is. He explains that it’s when two people sing together and it sounds nice. The musician tells him he’s right and the proceeds to use Amazing Grace as an example. He plays the melody with one hand and then askings leadingly if it doesn’t sound lonely. He then brings in his second hand to harmonize and asked the kid which one he preferred. The kids says the one with two hands. And the musician says that’s exactly right because with more notes we can communicate how more emotion with the melody.

The second person is a teenager. She defines harmony as when two people–usually a high and a low tone voice–blend the two voices together to sound better. The musician repeats what she’s said but adds that harmony is a melody played with feeling and a sense of some sort of story from where it begins to where it returns home again. (I really think that’s more of a revelatory way of framing it than I can accurately articulate.)

He then does something interesting. He noodles through Amazing Grace purposely hitting a sour note. But he backs up and then shows that by knowing you want to hit that note on your way home, you can surround it by notes that actually make it make sense in the given the context.

The rest of the video is great but I don’t pretend to understand the more complicated music theory stuff–once you get into add 9 and suspended notes, my eyes cross and I start to drool. But it’s amazing to watch the way that Herbie Hancock and the musician can just communicate with musical language like two old friends who haven’t spoken in a long while.

I’m less inclined to say that texture necessarily works the same way as harmony does in music; yet, to the extent that we can say that a 2D photograph or image has dimensionality and/or texture, it’s as a result of a confluence of factors designed to emphasize visible textural cues.

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