[↑] Source unknown – Title unknown (201X); [↙] Source unknown – Title unknown (201X); [↘] Source unknown – Title unknown (201X)

I’d originally wanted to share this as a #follow-the-thread post–but I don’t think I can convey what I wanted without also including stills and since these depend so much on the movement they depict, interspersing stills seems at best distracting and at worst working at counter purposes than what I want to point out.

There was a spate of dark and/or Satanic/Halloween oriented posts by a bunch of folks over the last few days. These sort of are among some of the more fascinating ones. But I’m also seeing them in an even broader context–for example:

William Mortensen’s Untitled {staked witch scene} (1927), these three posts from @ritualsex (I, II, III) and this bizarre, vintage-looking BDSM photo.

From the standpoint of conceptual considerations, I’ve been doing a lot of work with the notions of extremity. Just as an overly simplified example to illustrate the principle: it’s difficult to appreciate light separate from it’s interdependence upon shadow–no light without shadow, no shadow without light.

I’ve been applying this to notions of sin/transgression as they are inter-penetrative with salvation/transcendence–salvation is unnecessary means nothing in the absence of sin, so you must sin in order to be absolved of that sin by salvation. Western history is built around one sided perspective which views sin as the reason for needing salvation but why not celebrate sin as a prerequisite for salvation.

Given this premise: I’ve been experimenting with elements of Satanism/the occult, witchcraft and ritual in my work. My most recent project drew an explicit relationship between orgasm and the exorcising of demonic forces. Thus, I’d have intended these .gifs groupd together as a pleasure, punishment, appropriating punishment for pleasure (be it through the subversion of accepted social forms of deciding who is punished and how much or the act of erotically charging punishment as a path to carnal pleasure.

I really can’t see any of these images as either singularly pleasurable or totally about punishment–there’s this interesting way that the erogenous and the torturous fuse into an ouroborean cycling. (Conceptually, the motion in each of these serves to underscore this point.)

Nawa-ArtErika Yukio (1961)

It’s difficult to untangle all the various threads with this–largely because I read zero Japanese; also: it’s weird to me that while translations for Romance languages via Google Translate have improved marked over the last three years, it’s still only the babiest step above word salad for ideogrammatic languages. (I know ideogram is not technically the right term but I can’t think of the right term at the moment–I’m essentially pointing to the way romance languages group characters that make particular sounds in particular situations into words which name things, convey concepts, etc. vs. languages consisting of characters which a vaguely pictorial and convey concepts, i.e. Mandarin and Japanese; although it seems to me that kanji is maybe intended to be closer to the an alphabet? Don’t quote me on any of this–linguistics is one field where I will readily admit a complete absence of any sort of even baseline understanding.)

Anyway, as best as I can tell: Nawa Art is a site where someone–who seems not to want to be viewed as a collector–has archived pornographic BDSM materials that are apparently from brochures disseminated via a secret club in Japan circa 196X.

None of it is even half as edgy as what your average kink-focused Tumblr curator includes on the reg. But to my naive eye–it’s fascinating to consider the effect such material likely had in shaping the overarching vision of someone like Araki.

I really appreciate the presentation of this–there’s a physicality to it: the four holes at the right margin (seemingly from two staples), the way that it both simultaneously seems xeroxed + the way that the strips of black and white (in concert with the thin margin between the images) makes the photos appear three dimensionally stacked; additionally, I really dig the simplicity of the layout–the top half mirrors the bottom half with only a horizontal mirroring (the black and white strips makes it seem far more complicated than that but it’s actually a solid tact for making something simple look more complicated than it really is–good design usually flips that script; however, it can be used to strong effect if it’s used sparingly and in a conceptually resonate fashion).

Two other observations concerning layout: not how the upper left and bottom right image are connected by the inclusion of the dark ribbon looped around her neck, whereas the top right and bottom left are both square (vs. rectangular) and were almost certainly taken in sequence; there’s also the way what appears to be the drain of a bathtub behind Erika Yukio’s head in the top right, top left and lower right frame managed to break up what would’ve been a cloying repetition of fours (staple perforations + photos).

The other thing about this that appeals to me is that as put off as I am by mainstream porn of any kind–I am especially put off by depictions of BDSM in pornography. There is–in my experience–this fixation on both extremity and humiliation that just doesn’t appeal to me personally. (I’m not about to kink shame anyone though–you do you and know that as long as you have the utmost respect for consent; then I support your kinks).

I think it’s because I grew up in such a repressive community that I really don’t enjoy being made to feel dirty about physicality–I struggle with that enough already. But it’s more complicated than that, honestly; as much as I’m not at all into humiliation, testing boundaries is something that I crave.

I think that’s what I appreciate about this–there’s a sense of discomfit paired inextricably with a curiosity. That appeals to me greatly.

Source unknown – Title Unknown (201X)

Folks always give me shit about how I fixate on the framing/composition of a photograph or image. Yet, framing/composition contribute or detract immeasurably from the legibility of a photograph or image.

Take this, for example: it reads vertically and thus represents a rare instance where a skinny frame is logically consistent composition decision.

I’m fairly certain that this is not a panoramic photograph. (I’d wager it’s been cropped from a wider scene and digitally desaturated.)

Under normal circumstances, this is the sort of thing I avoid showcasing–except this is remarkably well-realized on two counts:

First, the affected white border around the image giving it a lurid news paper clipping/traditional dark room work print feel. (Both contribute a tactility to something that emphasizes the extremity of touch.)

Second, note the way different parts intersect in the space delimited by the frame–his hands, her face and handcuffed hands.

It’s partly the juxtaposition between the highlight detail of skin against the impenetrable background shadows, partly the way each feature converges at right angles to each other within the frame.

It’s also the way the camera is a witness as opposed to an intercessor. For example, rotate the image 90° clockwise gives you this:

image

Now maybe it’s just me but there is a certain way that with this orientation and hands entering the frame from the lower half (such as this) suggests that the hands belong to the photographer/image maker. Many folks are rightly criticized for this tact–looking at you Insuh Yoon. (Alternately, I did see this image made by Bang Sang Heyok, that while not a good image is–as far as I’m concerned–a successful proof of concept that there may be situations where the image maker/photographer insert themselves into the scene may actually serve a non-creepy purpose; in this case I appreciate that the image maker is attempting to preserve the anonymity of the subject in such a way that doesn’t not require decapitating them with the frame edges.)

Let’s take it another step, actually. Here are the same images rotated 180° & 270° degrees respectively.

image
image

To my eye, the 180° rotation doesn’t read as well. I see the handcuffs before the hands. With the mass of negative space at the bottom of the frame, your eye immediately retreats and locks on the handcuffs.

The 270° one is more surreal–how are the hands at that angle unless there has been some sort of gravitational trickery with the staging/positioning of the camera. In other words, this orientation undoes the physicality established by the original orientation. And, given that this is ostensibly a BDSM image, that exact physicality is the raison d’etre of the image.

Lastly–and this goes out to the naysayers who take issue with my #skinnyframebullshit ethos: the argument that you employ to dismiss my objections is that there is fundamentally no difference between the way you read the original and the 270° rotation. And you aren’t wrong. You encounter the same information in the same order with both orientations but the logical consistency of the composition and conceptual interpenetration given the various orientations not to mention the shift in psychological impact is the reason I harp so much on the fact that image orientation matters a whole lot more than I think you’ve really bothered to stop and consider.

David G. Donnelly (aka oberonfoto)  – Fiona – Nipples Clamped (2010)

Vladamir Nabokov famously experienced what’s called grapheme-color synesthesia.

And every time I listen to a record with great production and some THC in my system, I start to believe that I experience sound as shape. But it turns out anyone who gives a fuck about music and enjoys pot seems to have a similar experience.

I do occasionally have this odd experience of the sight of a particular texture making me think that I can feel it. B&W images of twill patterns exposed just-so they seem to have a 3D pop to them always do it. Looking at them it’s as if I’m actually stroking the fabric with my fingertips.

It can be more subtle. But it can also be much, much more intense.

Take this image:

image

I can’t explain what it is about it but looking at it feels like my facial muscles are similarly contracted and I can almost taste it. But, strangely, I simultaneously feel lips pressing against me and the ever so slight suction. It makes me feel all weird and adlepated in my tummy.

But, with the top picture I can actually explain why it is that looking at it makes me feel like my nipples are clamped. It’s all in the color–the inflamed red against the peach-pink of the areola.

So I’m posting it for that. But it also reminds me of this post guest curated by my best friend. I get the feeling she’d really dig this image.

Christine DengateAude and Infinite with Avalon (2014)

Wowsa! What a thoroughly compelling image.

I’m not sure I can offer any sort of ‘proof’ of why it works so well. Part of it is likely the Caravaggio-esque chiaroscuro–with a single bright source of light that enters the frame at a severe angle.

There’s a minute depth-of-field, making her face stand out but also grounding it in the milieu in which this scene is transpiring.

And mind is being paid to the rule that all things being equal, visually speaking–balance between an odd number of things is always preferable to an even number– five hands, three rings.

Codes and Contexts: Writing a New Pornography

loriadorable:

What does it mean to use the problematic aspects of BDSM as a way to explore real power and real pain? Can images be recontextualized through words? What does self-exposure really entail? How are sex positive and sex negative feminists allied against certain kinds of sex and certain kinds of work?

[Trigger warning: see tags]

PART ONE: Fists

image

[A nude black and white photo of Lori taken from behind. She is seated on a stool, and her arms are pulled straight behind her by a leather bondage device. It has multiple straps and runs up her back and around her neck. Her face isn’t visible and her hands are clenched into fists. She is tilted at a noticeable angle.]

[All photos by BlastPics]

This device sent chills down my arms. I’ve owned a pair of leather restraints for years. I use them on a regular basis at work and occasionally for play. Usually I find restraints unremarkable. There was something about this particular device, though, something about its shape: halfway between the full arm binding of a straitjacket and the piecemeal straps of modern medical restraints, what the girls on my first psych ward called ‘the four points.’

You will only see straitjackets in museums and BDSM parlors these days. It’s not that straitjackets weren’t effective; on the contrary, hardly anything is more effective. It’s that they are horribly painful to wear for long periods of time. Wikipedia explains the physiological reasons with the standard detachment: “Blood tends to pool in the elbows, where swelling may then occur. The hands may become numb from lack of proper circulation, and due to bone and muscle stiffness the upper arms and shoulders may experience excruciating pain.” We’re more civilized than inflicting that sort of pain now.

We’re so civilized we speak in code. When the call came down the hallway for a Code… Code Orange, I think (or Yellow? Not Blue, that was death), we all knew to scatter. Calling codes is one of the many amusing ways psych wards are like commercial BDSM parlors, where the scatter-and-hide code is always ‘Clear’ If one didn’t hide, if one stayed and peeked around the corner, she’d see a man in a business suit being led into a room with a black bondage bed and black leather cuffs. Or, she would see a girl being held down on a white cot, straining against white canvas cuffs.

I made it a point to be as disobedient as I could without incurring consequences. I needed to prove to myself that I was still in control even though I was not able to leave. This tendency faded quickly enough in the BDSM parlor, where we were forbidden to come and go as we pleased to avoid drawing the attention of police to the fact that we fucked men in the ass with dildos and fists. In other words, our restriction was for the safety of the management, and for our safety, too.  At ten days, my stay in the psych ward was too brief for my obstinance disappear. When the code was yelled, the orderlies shooed us down the hallway, but I ambled so slowly I fell behind the other girls, stopping right next to the doorway from which the yelling was emanating. I peered in, largely to see if I could, but also because I thought that someone should.

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