Our wounds are often the openings into the best and most beautiful parts of us.
–David Richo (via blackshivers)
Source unknown – Title unkonwn (201X)
In biology: a ‘raphe’ is a longitudinal seam that usually indicates some sort of mid-line.
There’s one in the medulla oblongata as well as one running from the anus through the mid-line of human genitalia. (pictured above you can see the perineal raphe.)
It is thought that the biblical account of creation where God removes a rib from Adam to make Eve is actually an errant translation and that the actual meaning was something closer to a reference to the fact that unlike most placental mammals, humans do not have baculum. (The folk wisdom is that since god took the bone from Adam and used it to make eve; the raphe is less seam and more vestigial scar tissue.)
[↖] Girls Out West – Allegra (2017); [↗] Liza Mandelup – Untitled from Give Yourself to the Sea (2013); [+] Julien Zarka – Kim (2017); [↙] Source unknown – Title unknown (200X); [↘] Louis Treserras – Tout Simplement (2011); [-] A Private Expose – It’s Time to Begin (2018)
My work flow for this project is pretty straight forward. I spend about two hours every day cycling through my dash to the point where I quit the previous day–liking anything along the way that catches my eye.
From the resulting likes, I conduct a second pass and ask myself do I have anything to say about this photo/image/illustration/set/etc. Such items get shunted into my drafts. Drafts get moved to my queue so that I can decide the best order to present them in and I usually only compose an entry for something that’s already in queue.
Anyway, there’s a mass of images in my drafts right now that I know I want to engage with but I’m not sure how I want to approach them. (Unfortunately, this has resulted in a bloated drafts section that is a bit cumbersome to navigate.)
I realized this morning that what I want to say about these six images has been difficult to coalesce because individually they don’t trigger much for me except to say that these images all view feminine embodiment in a way that I wish was a way I could learn to see my own body–as something beautiful, a bit awkward sometimes but thorough well-suited for utilitarian use and fundamentally desirable.
Source unknown – Title unknown (201X)
Usually, I’m a hard pass when it comes to close-ups.
It has to do with a certain lack of subtlety–like an insert shot in a movie where a character is shown gathering her things in order to leave the house and we see a shot of her grabbing her phone off her nightstand. It’s a knee jerk way of saying PAY ATTENTION TO THE PHONE, IT’LL TURN OUT TO BE IMPORTANT LATER.
A better example might be the detail in insert in an Art History text. You see Van Eyck’s Ghent Altarpiece in all it’s grandeur and then a close-up examination a of the strange fruit Eve is holding in it. Essentially, a close-up only really works/is necessary when it is presented in spatial and temporal context–i.e. cinema; or, it is intended to draw the viewers attention to something they might not otherwise notice.
And therein lays my beef with close-ups in still photography/digital imaging: unless the author is using polyptychs (and I can’t picture a way that would work off the top of my head), the close-up only functions when it conveys both its own context as well as clearly depict that to which the viewer is supposed to attend.
I like to think this is what Baudrillard had in mind when he noted (in Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?): “Behind every image, something has disappeared. And that is the source of its fascination…“
In the case of the above image–the scene has been reduced to two hands and –while I try very hard not to comment on the attractiveness of genitalia, these are some effing gorgeous gonads. (In the interest of equal representation, I’ve had this image sitting in queue for months. It’s a bit on the nose with the flower tattoo echoing Bailey Rayne’s labia–but it’s also an example of aesthetically breathtaking nether bits.)
What’s interesting here–at least for me–is that when you see ostensibly one body (the dangling balls and spread legs) with two hands there’s a tendency to attribute the scene to one person. And, actually, that isn’t the case here: this image shows a minimum of three different people.
It reminds me of the only David Foster Wallace book I’ve ever attempted to read. No, not Infinite Jest–I’m the only trash hipster girl who has never so much as pretended to read that one. I’m talking about Everything and More: A Compact History of Infinity.
The first 100 pages are breathless in their lucidity, wit and intrigue. The between the theoretical math and the footnotes I get completely lost.
But one of the things I learned is that we think of infinity as n+1 where n is any positive integer. But infinity is also n-1 where n is any negative integer. And! there is an infinite number of intervals between 1 and 2 and between -1 and -2. Infinities upon infinities.
Hold onto that bit for just a second. I’ll be getting back to it in a second.
I’ve also talked before about how there are times when the composition and order of a frame call for the viewer to consider what’s beyond the edge of the frame. Others, less so.
I’d venture to say that an effective close up is almost required to cause the viewer to consider what was cut out of the frame. (The above does this with aplomb.)
So I guess a good close up is kind of like infinity in that it finds a way to point to both the macro and micro. So, like David Foster Wallace, it’s not only interested in large and small, it’s interested in the infinite number of ways you can slice up the space between any two numbers.
Really, it’s not that close-ups are intrinsically bad–it’s that it requires a great deal more work to get them to operate with sensitivity, grace, subtlety and nuance.
Source unknown – Mariposa (201X)
“Everything in nature invites us constantly to be what we are.”
– Gretel Ehrlich
Source unknown – Title unknown feat. Anina Silk and Joy (2010)
I’m not 100% on the attribution here but I’m pretty sure the year and performers are correct. (If anyone knows where they real clip originates, I’d be interested in seeing it actually.)
Ass play isn’t really my thing. It can absolutely shorten the length of time it takes me to climax and it changes my awareness of what muscles do what when I’m orgasming. Neither of those things really add anything to the experience for me.
If my partner is into it, I’m willing to experiment just so long as my partners mouth as well as my mouth don’t go anywhere near an anus or anything that’s been inserted into an anus. (I know everyone on Tumblr swears about how wonderful analingus is to give and receive, but yeah… no thank you.)
Thus, it’s a little odd that I’m including this in some ways–considering it’s ostensibly a warm up for anal fisting. The reason I like it is two-fold.
First, it reminds me of being five. I had a friend in my neighborhood named Dirk (not his real name but his real name was also disturbingly phallic in hindsight).
Dirk liked to play a game called ‘butt work’. One person would pull down their pants and lay face down on the ground the other person would pull the cheeks of the butt apart and look at, blow on, tickle or insert a finger into the other’s rectum.
I liked the shameless curiosity of it. The experimentation involved.
It was also turn based. I’d lay there hidden from view of the adult world by bushes while someone probed my body. It wasn’t the most comfortable thing but I knew there’d be a chance for me to be equally curious about their body if I was patient.
It’s that sort of I won’t ask you to let me do anything to you that you also wouldn’t ask me to do to you mentality that appeals to me.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Although I would also like to make porn at some point, I’m currently interested in pushing my personal photographic work in a more erotic direction. But I am patently uncomfortable with asking anyone to do something unless there’s some sort of mutuality to it. I have zero interest in pursuing anything exploitative.
I’ve not made much progress on figuring it out. But I did want to point to the mutuality that radiates from this image and to point to that feeling as something I’d like to learn how to encourage and foster in my own work.
This isn’t a good image but it gives me all sorts of warm fuzzy feelings.
It’s from the 2015 World Naked Bike Ride in Portland–and event I promise myself that I’m going to do each and every year and then chicken out at the last minute each and every year.
It’s a complicated thing. I’m super fascinated by intersections of ‘private’ experiences in public spaces. But I get intensely put off by the whole nudist/naturalism scene. Not that I have anything against nudism/naturism, I’m just more interested in the transgression of the boundary that says being nakedly embodied is not something appropriate for mass consumption. (Nudism/naturalism seems to drift toward the extreme of trying to normalize and de-transgressionate public nudity.)
Also, if there was a closer match between how I see myself–a dyke-ier version of the woman here with the fabulous ink–I’d probably be more into these sorts of things.
Mostly what gets me about this is the way that these two are obviously close friends. They are sharing water from the same nalgene and are sharing space in one of those casual, unconsidered ways that friends do. I’m jealous of that, honestly.
I’d like to have friends that feel comfortable being naked around me and whom I feel comfortable being naked around. Bodies are great and I don’t think we should have to hide them and I don’t think being naked around other people always has to be sexual, I just think that it’s more honest in some ways. (If that makes sense.)
I do also realize that this is a very male gaze-y sort of thing. I mean the way it’s focused on the woman with the ink as opposed to anyone else and the way it’s framed so that you can see the knee jerk cishet assumed erogenous zones is kind of grating. But I do have to admit the twine tied around her hips gets me all kinds of hot and bothered, if I’m honest.
Source unknown – Title unknown (200X)
With images, my personal preference is to always have some sort of insinuation of a comprehensive context; thus, here: all you can see is three people and a bed–contributing a sense of this-could-be-happening-anywhere-in-the-western-world. (Whereas, I’d prefer to actually see the window in the background that is merely implied here; also, maybe enough of the way furniture is oriented in the room so that I have an inkling of whose space it is, i.e. is it her space or is it one of the boys’ domicile? The sheets make me feels like it’s hers…)
That one small-ish quibble notwithstanding, I do like this because it feels like it thwarts a lot of assumptions that would typically be projected here.
For example: I’ve been asked by several followers if it’s possible to depict a subject with their legs spread wide and have the resulting image not come across as objectifying. My answer is usually something along the lines of viewing the vulva as an eyelid–if it blinked open would the newly unshrouded iris be staring directly at the camera? Then yes, there’s a huge potential that the image will be read as objectifying.
In this case, however, I feel like this is perhaps an exception that proves the rule. And the why of that I think has to do with the fact that the focus is on attending to her pleasure. I mean–yes, the one gent has his finger inserted into her anus up to the second segment; and yes, it’s probably a warm up for anal sex.
The tableau is arranged to play towards the camera but the participants are ignoring the camera. The way the guy with the finger in her ass is always bracing her butt with his hand doesn’t seem solely about ensuring a good view. It feels like an effort to organically provide additional support as she’s trying to hold her own leg back and out of the way.
The whole thing feels (to me) intimate and attentive. I think this is another image I might want to borrow inspiration from to pursue in my own work at a later date.