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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.)

Oleg AndreevTitle unknown (201X)

I don’t believe in reincarnation. (Not that I don’t grasp what makes the concept so appealing–I just think it’s an all-too-extravagent proposition.)

But looking at this–which full disclosure: I don’t think is an especially great photo*–I’m just sort of instinctively drawn to it.

It reminds me of the first internet friend I made back in the mid-90s. She was the first person I met who claimed to be an honest to goodness witch. (I didn’t take her super seriously but I also didn’t feel any need to question or refute her.)

She always maintained that I had been a Russian peasant girl in my most recent past life. And honestly–that’s sort of the most reasonable explanation I could provide as to why so much of the work that commands my attention is made by folks who were formed and came of age during late Soviet decline in Eastern Europe and Russia.

*As to what doesn’t work about this, it’s dealing with a similar conceit as @mrchill‘s The Push–which I consider to be a much more effective evocation.

Club SeventeenTitle unknown feat. Tamara F (2013)

Ever since this post when I consume porn, I remind myself to pay attention to how the staging of a scene in relationship to the camera makes me feel about what I’m viewing.

Interestingly, scenes like this where the proceedings are cheated toward the camera to provide a clear and unobstructed view for the audience appeal to me more than scenes created by either a montage of various heterosexual erogenous signifiers or scenes that pretend to take a fly on the wall approach to capturing the scene–by staging the action for a stationary camera that only faces in one direction, moves on one axis and switches between reframings of close-ups and medium shots. (And POV shots are usually a huge turn off.)

I think there’s something about the sense that this scene has been blocked in a theatrical fashion contributes something to both the notion that both participants want to be seen in flagrante delicito. That self-consciousness makes me feel as if–as a spectator–my participation is expected if not the point of the undertaking.

(FYI, I do think this same idea can be applied negatively given the surfeit of tales where the consent of femme performers on porn sets is not protected or respected.)

Source unknown – Title unknown (201X)

It has been shown that at least part of the information received by the optic nerves is routed through and affected by memory before it reaches the part of the brain that deals with visual impulses (input). Now René Dubos discussed the distortion of stimuli: we tend to symbolize stimuli and then react to the symbol rather than directly to the stimuli. Assume this to be true of the other senses as well.

Bruce Nauman, Artforum Dec. 1970