I love pictures. In 2009, in the middle of a deep depression, a painter (Marie Stephane) suggested to me that I could use a camera to watch the world, if looking at it directly was too difficult. And it worked. I started to compose and organize reality through a deforming machine. That was perverted enough to help me.
Of course tying a lot, almost every day in fact, I started to capture some moments in rope from time to time. But rarely do I compare these photos to my practice itself. They are completely different. I have a kind of purist attitude that rope is about letting go in the moment, and not projecting yourself into another arty activity nor recording memories. Already feeling that recording the memory of what we do is more about our deep fears around existence than anything else.
People who know me well know how skeptical and critical I am of the “Business Picture Attitude” where visual is the main focus rather than taking the time and deep work.
In 2021, I spent my second quarantine with my models. Far away from my family, it seemed to be the right choice. In an almost daily “slow” practice, I decided to take pictures as part of it as an exercise to see how it would affect me, my technic, and my relationship with my models.
You can find most of the photos here: FB album – practice 2021 .
After 6 months of this experiment, I would like to share some of my thoughts, as a way to complete my experience and my expression.
Pictures in art influenced by Japanese culture ?
As many are, I am also in love with the work of Nobuyoshi Araki 荒木経惟and his work was one of my first encounters with Japanese bondage. And as many, looking through his pictures pushed me to do rope bondage in a more Japanese way.
So I think it’s interesting to see the Japanese definition of picture: Shashin – 写真 :
- 写: a kanji character widely used in Japanese words related to the act of copying, projecting, shooting, or filming.
- 真: a kanji character widely used in Japanese words related to the truth or reality. This can also work as a prefix to emphasize its following word with the nuance of ‘truly’.
From these two kanji characters, we can understand that “shashin” literally means a copy of the truth. In the Japanese language, therefore, photos are copies of the truth.
My own perspective cannot be further away from that definition, or reality is like a Kanji concept who has many layers and leverages to describe a not so clear wide area.
I have to confess my work has been more influenced by pictures from Diana arbus and a specific picture from James Nachtwey. From my point of view, they use the camera to open reality and to express their particular understanding. The visual elements are the result of a long process that makes us feel, or connects us, to so much more than what is presented visually.
I am particularly moved by the directness and coldness they present in their work. It’s not really difficult to feel the work, trust, and thought that they put in. How much of reality they layered off before they take a picture. Also, in a very different way, I see a lot of volume in their work. How many subjects are not flat “perfect” images, but multi-dimensional versions of reality.
At the same time, I feel the result is very direct and very cold. Which makes an interesting paradox.
Around this project, I hope you can see that I tried to NOT show off my rope skills, but rather my will to discover my models; their personality, what they accept to show, or be, and my way to get closer to them. Of course, most of the time, we never really speak about the reality of the tying or the session either.
Fuck I love discipline. Come, have a drink, and let’s share how we practice. I have no other true reality. I love that in aikido, massage… and maybe rope to me is all about that. From some very “simple” and “basic” mentality of just dig and do research. I would be lying if I was telling you that I was aiming to create technic/visual/art… we are so far away from it. The practice has only one goal: the practice itself. Nothing else matters. It’s perhaps the main, and maybe the only true outcome you get in with the intimacy you share, with yourself, with your partner, with your movement or skill…
Picture in this project, adding another level of discipline, another level of digging:
- Prepare the place for the practice; prepare the place for the picture.
- Earn the trust of your partner for the risk; earn the trust of your partner for the image.
- Organize your movement for the play; organize your movement for the point of view.
- Choose a direction to work the body; choose picture, post production, skin feeling, expression, etc…
Do it again tomorrow!
And again, and again…
Also, the lighting is very simple, nothing like in a photo studio, but just enough to communicate that the practice is also going to be visual, at minimum for visual exploration and recording memory.
This choice to force self-discipline is obviously energy consuming and kind of hard. But it also brings pleasure and satisfaction.
The others // Social Visibility My love !
Or “The incredible concept of our society!”
Yep. Every time I publish, I gain in visibility. And I need that, of course, to promote my way to tie. (Which is very personal, unique and well thought – smile )
Likes, comments, shares, and sometimes even emails are the rewards of online social networking. You don’t even need to be good or to know what you are doing, you just need to fake it and make a “good classical picture” to get the admiration of others. As a presenter it’s really important, if you want people to remember you to post often, to make stories so they feel you are doing incredible shit… They would like to work with you!
That’s the Deal ! A couple of things worries me and many of my artist friends get sucked off by that :
- The energy to always be on top of the game is very consuming : too often I feel, many necessities and pleasures of body and art practice are replaced by; “how can I show on Insta?”, “which story should I do at 10am? 2pm? 4pm? 10pm?”, “am I cool enough?”, “am I cool in the sense of my community?”…
- The ‘like whore attitude’: seems the perfect path to ‘frustration’. Internet replaces everything fast! Any achievement of visibility is already part of the past. And most likely, we are going to compare ourselves or just want more attention (there are some very good studies about the chemical effects).
There is a necessity of not presenting your work too early in corporal practices. Study, research, making deep sense is quite the opposite to fast presentation. You have to make space for not mistake, laugh and in order to let things mature.
Of course, there should be a right balance between development and publishing your progression. Our work is only valid if it’s for the other and nowadays, digital connection is one of the channels to spread and share it. Here lies the main paradox, and how to find the middle way : the great question!
To me, I suppose, putting ourselves in a cycle is one of the best attitude (or perhaps a necessity) for surviving on this path.
Or the other 2.0.
Every modern photographers spends too much time on their screen. Or at least the ones like me! The reality of our pictures is deeply limited.
But printing… The process is so different, and the result is so unique. First, you have so many new choices when you go to paper. At first, a fast result seems impossible. You have to take some impacting decisions and to print… the result is neither immediate or changeable. So in order to not lose your energy, the decision process has to be more balanced. To print in a different format also slowly gives substance to your work. By then, you have to choose what is working with which format, paper… Contrast, white balance, framing, and all the many choices you make will change dimension in printing.
The printed picture will talk to you or not (and many times the feeling may -should?- be very different from the screen).
The material leads you to a calm and reflective connection. And you realize that a wooden floor or a table is way more flexible and responsive then your screen. You can organize in so many ways: move them, concentrate on them, observe them in space… let time do its work.
Also, sharing pictures on a screen and sharing them on a flat surface changes everything. How one looks at them. How they will relate to space. And the people who look at your work will tell you so much about your work. So you still in the research, exploring the other through yourself (or yourself through others).
The diffusion will be, of course, less worldwide or about mass connection, but more precious and intimate. That’s alright for me; it’s exactly the quality of our art: precious and intimate!
In my understanding, letting go is the main skill, and at the same time the goal of our art. The only way to lead is to let go. The only way to be lead is to let go. Of course all of that benefits from the skills that we improve in our practice and study. The main tool will be the present connected to the “here & now”.
To my surprise, even on this project I had, and still have to work on that. Inside the session, taking a camera, choosing an angle, and a frame while in the flow, so that your partner barely notice. It’s not to be fast but to choose the right moment and movement.
Not wanting to control the visual result, but to be able to seize the Moment/Space/Feeling (Are we talking about the notion of MA?). And it’s hard, fucking hard. But it’s necessary also to not distract a fluid and natural exchange with your rope partner.
More than that the short moment of control you have after is nothing. Of course, you choose the one you keep, the post-production, and how you print. And you have to accept that the photo will change when transferred to a visual screen (light projected) or to paper (light absorbed). At first you just think is a logical process but slowly you realize that it’s not. This part you have to trust and to let go. By working with the same printer (and choosing them of course) you are also going to give some particular dimension to your work. So the relationship you are going to have with your printer is essential. As with you model: trust, common understanding, and personal communication are key points in the development. But not just! I think we have to give them some responsibility and liberty in our creations.
Again, letting go of this will to over-control. Leading is enough…
And again, it’s fucking hard.
After all, riggers and photographers have the opposite tendency. Another interesting paradox, don’t you think ?