[↑] 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.)

Source unknown – Title unknown (201X)

I don’t like that this is vertical. (Any moving image–be it a .gif or video clip–should always be landscape oriented.)

I do quite like quite everything else: she appears to be chasing her own pleasure’s flow-state so single mindedly, he seems just as intensely in his own body (it’s also interesting that his movement from left to right serves as an almost mechanical counterpoint to her thrust); the position (would you call that ‘side saddle amazon’?) is something I’ve never seen before–although it’s reminiscent of a position I have seen before which would involve the dude here pulling his right knee up and then her pulling her right thigh over his body so that she can hug his leg to her body and grind against his thigh while thrusting. (Granted that shift in position would erase another thing I like about this: that with the exception of the base of his cock and the edge of her left nipple, they are both clearly nude but the typical markers of nudity that social media discourages are otherwise absent.)

I don’t like the white duvet, white walls look but unlike most porn shoots that just pour watts and watts of dead white light onto a scene, this at least features more naturalistic lighting. The white light entering the frame from left to right and primarily illuminating her shoulders and arms vs the tungsten light coming from almost the same angle only traveling right to left suggests an overhead light in another room–perhaps from the open door or a hotel bathroom or something of the sort.

Alex Vivian – How to Ride… Bitches (2016)

This .gif is hell of cute.

…as you can probably guess, however–it’s from a video that is flagrantly sexist in much the same way alt-right fuckers will say reprehensible shit that if they are called on it they claim was “only a joke, lighten up!”

I’m not suggesting it’s possible to shrug and dismiss what’s problematic with it. But, it did occur to me that this is probably as good an illustration as anything of the way the art historical male gaze gets imprinted on virtually everything.

Let’s not overly complicate it. Just consider the interplay between Ashley and Lana’s actions in combination with their facial expressions. Lana–with stiff upper lip willfulness with a trace of smug satisfaction–grabs Ashley’s boobs. Ashley remains inert until Lana squeezes her breasts; she then grins with an expression that I can only describe as halfway between coyly flirtatious and femme fatale malicious. (It’s a look intended to refer to an expectation of a feeling which she is expected to feel but does not–this would be fairly in-line with my understanding of Baudrillard’s notion of pure simulacrum.)

From here it’s possible to get even more microscopic. It’s possible to note that Lana is the stand-in or male surrogate. That both women are only allowed to experience feelings in relationship to sexualized touching. Also, the context of riding a motorcycle is not automatically something you’d view as sexual. Yet, Lana’s actions take it there and Ashley just seems OK with it. (This is pure cisthet male fantasy.)

It did occur to me that there may be a useful object lesson here–specifically with regard to the oft touted of late notion of the female gaze. And I think just about the best example of how the so-called female gaze is different than the male gaze is to while still focusing on the expressions and actions, swap the facial expressions between Ashley and Lana.

Now, with that in mind zoom back out and consider the expression swap in the context of the same scenario. The problematics are still the same but the align differently now. If you follow that analysis to it’s conclusion, you’ll have a much better understanding of why I am so skeptical of the whole push for a ‘female gaze’ instead of efforts to rebuild the politics and paradigms related to visual representation from the ground up.

[↑] Source unknown – Title unknown (201X); [↖] Source unknown – Title unknown (201X); [+] Source unknown – Title unknown (201X); [↗] Helix Studios – Title unknown (201X); [-] Source unknown – Title unknown (201X); [↙] Source unknown – Title unknown (201X); [↘] Source unknown – Title unknown (201X)

Follow the thread: Pride edition.

Source unknown – Title unknown (201X)

I think the point of what’s being depicted here is arguably better presented given the following reframing:

You lose the distraction of the handles on the bathroom cabinets, power outlets and although I do love the angle of the top of her foot perched on top of the counter, the angle of it and the way it aligns with that brighter area from the window behind her (and the way that lines up in the original with the side of the window) is super distracting.

You are losing the view of her bum but for me what appeals to me is what happening with her face. I’d have likely framed it so that the inner thigh of her left leg dictated the left frame edge. But you’d have needed either a slight shift in the camera position or a different lens to pull that off. (I could’ve just cropped it but I did make an effort to preserver the original aspect ratio.)

Honestly, I’m much more intrigued by what her arm is doing in the mirror than I am by actually seeing-not-seeing what she’s doing with her fingers. (That sudden gasp/jaw drop at the loop point is tres adorbs.)

Source unknown – Title unknown (201X)

I have no ideas where this is from. But I am totally enamored with it.

There’s a nice conceptual bridge between the pulling the seat of a swimsuit from where it seems to ride up whenever you’re in and out of the water with the opening of the lily.

There is a symmetry between the gesture of spreading/stretching. An emphasis on texture–skin, lacquered nails, mesh, flower.

I am almost curious as to whether these clips are actually linked in the original source or if they were assembled from two disparate clips by someone with a really good eye for editing.

There’s an argument to be made they have to be from the same source. The nail polish and backgrounds–pink with the mesh, blue with the flower–that seem to suggest a similar approach to production design.

However, the light is different between the two–like not just a different color balance but a different approach. Also, the blue background in the scene clip with the lily, not the lines of vertical noise. You’re not getting anything like that in the pink background of the previous clip.

Alternately, whether or not they are from the same source: these work together because they embody a sort of Jimmy Marble meets Tommy Cash vibe that’s really a very NOW ™ aesthetic.

Alan SonfistMyself Becoming One with the Tree (1969)

Me (to myself): this sequence is naturally predisposed to a .gif format.

Myself (to me): you know how to make a a .gif, you lazy ass hussy.

I can’t say the idea of making photo sequences into .gifs was is original. I stole it from this post featuring a .gif of Duane Michals’ 1969 The Human Condition.

But I do sort of take issue with that post because although culture dictates that the .gif is how we are most accustomed to processing photo sequences, the sequences were not originally contextualized as animation. Thus while this is definitely a good idea to get people into work they might not otherwise encounter, you really absolutely must be honest about the intervention upon the work, IMO.