I Model; You Take My Picture

Publication Type:

Journal Article




CEPA Journal, CEPA, Buffalo, NY (1988)




Modelling proceeds from the assumption that representation possesses the residue of organism, that something remains of interested after the photographic session occurs.

Full Text: 

Modelling proceeds from the assumption that representation possesses the residue of organism, that something remains of interested after the photographic session occurs. Modelling also proceeds of course from the presence of the body, its position relative to the you, a position occasioned from your establishment of a structure. Thus it is only the presence of the body, this presence of this body: an ontological issue. What could emerge but a psycho- or sexual pathology, a characterology rendered immanent and inauthentic by an atmosphere of fiction and hysteric reduction? Something akin to schizophrenia, perhaps, the overdetermination of personality. Thus a situation in which the spectator is read, held in abeyance: it is the gaze of the model towards the spectator, not the other way around. From this moment on, the completion of the image and its presentation, all of the usual is in evidence - male and female gaze, punctum, and so forth. But these are not necessarily inherent in the modeling session itself, which contains its own modes of representations, continually playing off the deployment of power and sexuality within a situational as-if, a situation set-aside as the dream is always elsewhere. And so my body is an immanent form of exchange; for you it is a rite of passage. Were it not for the inertia of sexuality, the weight of the caress of light, my body would become invisible, totalized: nothing and everything simultaneously. Its visibility for you would be its invisibility for myself, of course, of course... And I am always concerned about the revelation, appearance, of the sexual organs, which transform the body into a map, an area of striations governed by the logics of gesture (non-distributive, non-Boolean) and transversals. For here is where secrecy lies; here is where the gift results in an annihilation akin to orgasm, an circumscription of the flesh. At a certain point, there’s nothing left to give; at a certain moment in pornography, a pornographic moment, the horizon of death meets the totalization of organs, and so on. Thus I am reduced, and this annihilation is my comfort; I am become you and the session is close to an end. I lose myself in substance, the medieval substance of light, just as pauvre Flaubert loses himself in materiality as St-Antoine before rescue by the Signifier Of The Sun. Now the photograph is not the signifier of the body and this absolute reduction is reversed only by the occasion of time, the closure of the shutter, and the denouement of the subsequent events in the studio. Compare this to the absurdity of modelling for a painter. Here one remains, hour after hour, in a useless position (useless passion); the pose (which originally had content) becomes a frozen signifier reverberating against the stillness of the flesh. Nothing pleasant in this news from nowhere... While in photography, the pose is everything, and everything prepares for it. I take a pose and hold it for you; I release it; the body moves through the image. The image is imaginary; the body is always on the way to somewhere. (And when you take this picture, I love or hate you for it; I am never neutral...) When I model, I desire you, desire the photographer and her performance, desire this which targets my body, re-possesses it; if I am clothed, my body fulfills the function of clothing; if I am naked, everything is gone, devoured, spent. (Is there not a void, rupture, between technology and body, between superstructure and base, through which desire flows, a mediation which transform body into fantasy? What I desire is an extension of the world, its caress; what I desire is loss, and its desire.) This is a form of giving, this devouring. The posed body is the anorectic body, the body as absolute signifier, impenetrable; this is the body of exchange, the body of late capitalism in which commodification and fetishization become one, become the Same. The pure commodity - the cohesive body - gathers light, reproduces it as a form of abjection. Abjection, since light and body are no longer being and not-being, self and not-self, neither one thing nor another (the absent entity which exists in the temporal interstice of the shutter/shudder); the body becomes a re-presentation, simultaneously short-circuiting the photographer and the everyday. Orgasm flows into the light; the self coagulates (a promise of coagulation) against the grain of the negative - the self develops, is fixed, annihilated. Photography and modelling in particular are the inverted double of the body of the shaman, and the shaman is androgynous. Thus photography itself mediates between the real (evidence in the “scientific” sense) and the imaginary (the eccentric space of the erotic): an entity embedded into substance, or an entity promising substance and embedding. What I am is what I have; what I have is what you are; what you are is what I am; what I am belongs to you (plateau of skin, screen of flesh). What is ceased (embedded) remains in shadow; what is evident in the light is evidence and light is everywhere. Light embeds and re-produces; light guarantees commodity and production. Back from the photography, the camera, the photographer - which provide the occasion (fulfilled by the event and its descriptions) - there is that necessary distrust, that focus of excitement, excitation: what can we do together? What is the license of the image? (What is the arrangement of our, my, desire? Your occasion?) My body is arranged, rearranged in (every conceivable (thus appearing that inversion in which my existence is presence and loss)) position; it is the heraldic body, emblematic (of its presence, the presence of substance, the mother). Clearly the body is an opening towards the light; the body opens: You open the body for me. I am restrained. In this fashion I hardly know you. The light becomes a familiar caress (it is not daylight; it is litigation, the negotiation of the Law, outlawed in this sanctuary, this studio); I confess everything. What you want is what you get. What you photograph is the inverted double, and I perform for you. Like a service, I perform for you, perform for myself. I cannot (to be frank) look in a mirror; I avoid your eyes. I perform for the dead lens which brings my flesh to life; you bring me to life, the restoration which is the presence of flesh. Flesh is its disembodiment. You are the story which surrounds me. You are the beginning of narrative. What you pull out of me is an object. That object is an image, is substance. That object cures; you are a curing shaman, mediating the real against itself. There is nothing spiritual here, in this shamanism; there is only the presence of libido, the circulating of the real, the collapse of fantasm, theory, language, against the reality of the flesh and its excitation. Which becomes a totality, transforms the body into liquidity, the return of the caress. If I perform for you, you are the proof. (You do me, do me in.) I was this way, that way. I become you, your body, your organs (the penetration of simultaneity, the absence of time). I don’t think, didn’t think. That slow and deliberate movement. I offer my body. Service. My arms, legs, torso, thighs everywhere. What I did was slow, unlike me, then frozen. The thing flows; it flows; the image is impotent, discarded; what is the time of the image? Time smears the image (which is completed by perception; you completeme). Nothing occurs when the shutter is open; the shutter is all that occurs. Nothing moves, or is movement a representation?; the shutter is all that moves. (Hey Barthes, maybe the punctum occurs elsewhere, the real inversion of real flesh occasioned by the photograph - the image itself only the residue?) Arrangements, the absence of light, our gifts to each other. And this anorectic state is the perfect body; the residue is present or absent, here or there, digital. The shudder of the session from the very beginning is given purity as the horizon, the endless perfection of withdrawal. And such withdrawal tends towards denouement, abjection, towards that horizon which returns the everyday as absolute. Thus the everyday guarantees abjection; I model for you in an hysteric state in which time comes to an end. My body and the body of the anorectic are carved, carved out; in body, I gladly spend myself towards the safety and solitude of death. In both I am hole again. Carnival, plateau, perforations of the body. Everywhere illuminations. I desire you, desire the presence of the camea. I desire your presence within me. So this is a case of theft and desire, like sadomasochism, this is the desire of the illicit granted by negotiation opening up a forbidden interiority in which presence is lost and gained. Just as I am always for rent, you are always for hire. And this world, lost of late, lost of late capitalism, is all the capital I have to spend. (So take it fast...the loss of limbs...irreparable loss...the fade of sexuality...coming quickly...caressing the outside image...bringing it to light...bringing it up...once more...making it hole again...) Note - there are computer illustrations accompanying this. The text reads And for illustrations? Any specific occasion would be a betrayal. So I offer these, in its stead, as lure. So that the occasion remains secure, inverts capital in the heart of its production. Four stages in a necessarily incomplete computer portrait of a mathematical function.