I'm sitting naked and cross legged on a towel, on a coffee table in the middle of the room in The Photographer's house. Around my neck is a collar. Looped through the metal ring is a length of chain which is fastened to the underside of the table, holding me down. The chain is taut: I can hold my head up, but only just and when I do I can feel the strain keenly. I am wearing a blindfold and music plays.
He is behind me, silently writing on my back using a caligraphy brush and ink. I don't know what he is writing, it could be anything, the subject matter was not discussed. I try to imagine what he looks like: is he calm and composed or concentrating, frowning; is he smiling, enjoying the moment? I'm silent too, the collar requires it, and it feels right to be quiet just as it feels appropriate to be still. I can feel each brush stroke, cool and wet and yet also sharp as the individual bristles catch my skin at a curious angle, like the touch of a gentle needle, scratching but not puncturing the skin. I become convinced that what I am feeling is a combination of sensations, that the brush cannot possibly be providing such a range of textures and pressures so there must be needles, or some other tool inscribing me. My skin second-guesses me, betrays my clarity and logic as it become increasingly sensitive. Immobile and reaching out, imagining what I cannot see.
I start to lose any concept of space or time. I think an hour or so has passed, but I'm not sure. As we go on, I can feel the heat slowly escaping from my body, and with it seems to go some of my energy and sense of self. My hands on my thighs feel the warmth and solidity of my flesh at first, then less and less, until the two become indistinguishable. The stroking points of light pressure on my back are the sum and total of my sensations, a link to the world outside of my emptying self. As I erode, they rebuild me, line upon line, re-created.
Eventually, the blindfold is removed and I am face-to-face with black and white shots, on a computer screen, of my own skin, covered in writing and symbols. It looks like a marble surface, smooth and pale yet also abstract and oddly disconnected from the experience of feeling it. Myself, viewed from space.
2 weeks ago