spoil me

Still from A Surprise Guest featuring

Straight-up (pun maybe intended), this is some Grade A #skinnyframebullshit.

Yes, it’s nice to see Cindy presented head-to-toe sans frame line amputation/decapitation. But the result is all wawkerjawed.

I am going to overlook the original image being both in color and bordering on overexposed– I fail to understand how shooting to the right is preferable to just exposing correctly in the first fucking place. But, why did some idiot feel compelled to de-saturate? Was the goal to produce a flat, low contrast image? If so: bravo– mission accomplished.

Technical concerns aside, the image’s awkwardness also works in its favor. It is, after all, an image belonging to a larger more-or-less sequential, implicitly narrative images. For example: before I researched this image, I was fairly sure that this young woman walked in on the young man in the tub, things escalated and she began to undress. (As far as I can tell, that is in fact, what happens.)

There is also the ripe implication of what will happen next: the scenario will proceed to intercourse. Thus, this single image contains all the information for the viewer to discern the entire narrative arc without seeing any other image.

The possibility of distilling a story to a single narrative image seed is an idea with which I am pathologically obsessed. And for all its faults, I actually prefer this to the arbitrary, narrative pretense of photographers like Gregory Crewdson, Sébastien Tixier and Reverend Bobby Anger. (If you disagree with this premise: attempt to envision what happened immediately prior and what will happen next. (Pro-tip: you can’t; despite all the gum flapping about narrative, when the work has more in common with the so-called ‘tone poem capturing the something of the weight in moments heavy with emotion.)

But, I would have posted this for nothing more than the way Cindy is standing over the boy in the tub, her expression which might actually be an unfeigned premonition of pleasure. Plus, I think it is so, so hot that she still has her top on.

Honestly, I couldn’t give less of a fuck about the rest of the images in this series or the other visual output by Damien “Elroy” Vignaux; there is definitely something special about this one image, though.

I’ve seen lots of other shots like this but never in such dying light with attitudes of come hither sexy and coy, aloofness (or it could be resignation– today has not be the best w/r/t my ability to match words appropriately with contexts).

It also illustrates another point close to my heart–in the age of mass proliferation of visual culture, cyber bullying and revenge porn, there are certainly people who want to and should be able to post nude selfies and maintain some sense (which is probably nothing but a delusion) of anonymity. To that end, people shoot themselves from the neck down, producing garishly decapitated images. But seriously there are any number of ways to exclude your face from the visual field of the frame while keeping your body intact. This is one of the most creative examples I’ve ever encountered.

This is exactlythe sort of thing I wanted to feature when I started Acetylene Eyes—something to aim a one finger salute in the direction of all the endless rehash of explicit imagery with only two criteria: keep the titillating bits visible in the frame and in focus; something with a modicum of consideration for composition, form and content.

As an image maker invested in questions of public vs. private—particularly as they pertain to the politics of graphic nudity and sexual tableau—this image fascinates me.

Its hallucinatory blush is reminiscent of the rotoscoped animation in Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly and invokes the feeling of a memory which may have only ever been a dream.

During my junior year of college, I was assigned a room in a flat with six other students. I knew not one of them on move-in day. But nine months later, six of us were very close; two in fact, remain, very, very dear friends.

Another dear college friend enjoys describing me as “violently allergic strangers and bullshit;” so it was a bit surprising that I gone on so well with my flat mates.

All I can say by way of explanation is I have never been as comfortable in my own skin as I was sharing space with these people. Virtually everything I know about living in, participating with and fostering a community comes as a result of those nine months—everyone looked out for everyone else in the most simple and touching ways.

Within two weeks, no one locked their doors. Within two months doors were rarely closed and no one really knocked so much as peaked their head inside to ask if it was okay to come in.

One of the many amazing memories I have of this time has the same hypnogogic quality as this image.

It was toward the end of the term. I had come back from my morning class (Russian) to find the flat empty. My intent had been to nap but between the mild hangover from the night before and caffeine that allowed me to drag my ass out of bed in time to make it to class I couldn’t fall asleep.

The thought occurred to me that if I could get myself off, there was a better than average chance I might be able to pass out again. And it was one of those rare times, when as you get started you realize your body is ready and willing but the orgasm you are chasing proves elusive.

My eyes were closed so I didn’t realize Lela in the room until I heard her exclaim: Oh

I suffered a litany of close calls as a teen but somehow no one had ever caught me in flagrante delicto until that moment. I stopped masturbating but more in the pausing the action instead of the trying to hide what I had been doing. It surprised me that I neither felt horrified or even a little bit ashamed.

I opened my eyes. Lela, all freckles and strawberry blond hair was standing maybe four feet away from me staring at me.


Her right hand flew up to hover an inch or so in front of her eyes; her pale hand seeming paler against her reddening face.

Uh, hey, I need to ask you something. Um…could you, you know, definitely finish taking care of this but maybe put on a towel after and come out to the kitchen for a minute?

Instead of backing away room, she merely turned, dropped her hand from her eyes and pulled the door to but not closed behind as if she was just trying not to disturb someone who was sleeping.

I’d assumed I wouldn’t be able to finish but I quickly found my rhythm again and came like gangbusters in less than five minutes.

As soon as I could I slipped on a t-shirt and pajama bottoms.

Lela was sitting on the stool at the breakfast bar, still a little red faced, reading a photocopied packet.

Before I could say anything she had her arms wrapped around me.

There were no apologies because none were needed. No embarrassment or shame. For the first tim in my life just exuberant acceptance.

I inquired what the hug was for and she responded that’s what I came looking for you for in the first place. That and—sheepishly—to see if you’d let me borrow your car so I drop the donated food at the shelters tonight?