“Well, I am an English photographer, based primarily in London and I create ever so slightly strange photos and short films involving women in impalpably erotic situations. “…. so state’s photographer Marc Blackie on his web site “Disappointed Virginity” (www.disappointedvirginity.com). But one look at “Disappointed Virginity” and you will see that the above statement is understated at best. What Marc Blackie has created with “Disappointed Virginity” is a virtual playground of extreme erotica. Each photograph is a glimpse at an extreme moment and time… a visual story your mind is left to complete.
Marc was kind enough to answer a few questions about his work and it’s future.
TEOB: Lets start with the photography… My first thought upon seeing your photography is that there is a joyful (perhaps playful) madness to what you are trying to convey. Is that fair? Is there a emotion you are trying to evoke in your viewers?
MB: Good that you noticed…for a lot of people the humour is that last thing that comes across and my work is often given such labels as “dark”, “oppressive”, “misogynistic”, and a personal favourite of mine “self destructive” – however that works.
I do have a fairly wicked sense of playfulness and obviously a great love for my opposite of body and sexuality, so matter how dark the original intent of a series of image may be, I will often look back after their creation and realize that I have somehow managed to slip in a few little elements with a slightly comedic slant.
I just can’t help it though, always finds a way into what I do and has sometimes been a source of irritation. I was recently commissioned to make a film for an event here in London and the resulting short, “Iðunn’s Pollination”, somehow morphed from its original fairly dark intent to a comic piece about oral sex – complete with ridiculous punchline.
So to answer the question, I generally intend to produce work that has a pretty harsh outlook on sexuality and the female form, but the ‘joy’ and the ‘humour’ usually sneaks in there. Somehow.
TEOB: The wonderful website that houses your photography and films is titled Disappointed Virginity, is there a meaning behind the title?
MB: If I was given a pound for every time I was asked that question, I would have enough for a pretty entertaining night out. It is a question that I am fairly bored of answering, but not at all invalid – so to give a quick thumbnail sketch it is something I adopted from Patricia Duncker’s novel “Hallucinating Foucault”, though it has taken on a vastly different meaning from it’s original intent.
I do believe that desire and lust has been ascribed a false importance and as human beings we spend a lot of time finding ways to satiate these “god-given” urges. There is that brief moment after orgasm where one finds themselves thinking “Oh, okay. All of that for that? Really?” but then mother nature appears and tells you that it’s all going to be alright.
Then the sneaky libido kicks in and reminds mother nature that the act just performed is in no way going to help propagate the species, but thanks for the words of encouragement anyway … and begins planning for the next devious act.
Like clitorises – that always remind me of the deep sea angler fish…luring prey in. This cute little lump that serves no purpose other than to persuade the owner that penetration is a good thing. Not that it’s not, but you get my drift.
TEOB: I loved the MUTOSCOPE gallery…. artwork with motion – and with the ipod on my ears - it offered wonderful imagery to the tunes in my ears. Can you describe what MUTOSCOPE is for the readers, and what they can expect from this gallery?
MB: Mutoscope is the technique used in the old peepshow machines, where the user turns a handle to cycle through a series of photographs held on a wheel and viewed through a hooded lens. Exactly the same principle is in play here as with flicker book animation and all I have done is update the technique to use web technology to animate a series of 50 – 100 individual images.
The upshot of this is what appears to be a moving photograph and that movement being either something as subtle as the action of breathing and the various usually unnoticed twitches of a body at rest or some more dramatic actions, such as masturbation, a caress or whatever.
I like the idea of capturing these moments, extending the time frame of a still image to provide a slice more of narrative or bring the subject to life a little more. The idea of the observer being observed and maybe helping to remind that the image contains a person, a life and an individual; concepts that can become quite abstract in a still.
TEOB: Do you have a pre-set idea going in what will be done during a photoshoot?
MB: Not so much anymore. There was a time when I would approach every shoot with a very clearly defined idea of the shot in mind, to the extent that the scene would be arranged in it’s entirety for the model to arrive and step into. A *click* of the camera and they were free to go; which whilst producing effective results reduced the shooting process to a production line.
These days I prefer to go into a shoot with a few rough ideas and potential props and scenarios in mind and then just start shooting, building as we go – which often spirals off into completely unexpected directons. I do keep a notebook of random words, ideas and sketches, many of which I am entirely unable to decipher at a later date (“Close up Plough Soup Eating Pussy Misogyny?” for example…) but even so, I like the idea of an unrelated concept inspiring an eventual image.
TEOB: Do your models have input into the photoshoot?
MB: I welcome ideas and do try to encourage some degree of input, but this is generally not forthcoming, which is a shame. When I ask for something to start the creative cogs and workings in motion I don’t expect a full blown concept, rather a crust or corner of a torn envelope’s worth of a theme. When I have managed to drag something from a subject it often results in something wildly different to that which was offered – but a starting point of some sorts is useful for me.
Having said all that, I am sometimes given the “I want to be in the bath with a razor blade” scenario to work with. If I had a pound for every time I heard that one, I would have enough for a taxi home after the night out paid for by the disappointedvirginity question.
TEOB: Lets’ talk about the videos. The video’s on the site are quite interesting…. I just finished watching “Comfort Eating” and “Ignorance Observe” …. in one fell swoop you succeed in making the viewer both aroused and repulsed… it this a common tactic in your work?
MB: Not a tactic as such…just a reflection of my own approach to the erotic, which I see not as a joyful expression of sexuality, but generally something more sinister. As much as certain sections of the media might try to convince otherwise, I’ve never seen the sexual act (and therefore erotic, pornographic or otherwise voyeuristic images which inevitably nod towards the notion thereof) as necessarily pleasant.
If a child walks in on their parents banging, their first thought isn’t along the lines of “Well, they look like they are having a swell time and expressing their love for one another” but more likely to be one of terror…”What are they doing? Are they in pain? Are they fighting? Is it an argument?”
In the same way, a man may look at a topless photo in a national newspaper or magazine and as much as the accompanying text might try to divorce the image away from impulsive arousal (a shallow attempt to divert from it’s intention as a mastabatorial aid…) the thoughts inspired in the viewers mind are unlikely to be pleasant ones about the fine curvature or soft skin. More likely they’ll be along the lines of various urges that would no doubt cause blushes in the parents of the model in question. God, I hope that’s not just me….
So in my work, there is the obvious enthusiasm that lust and desire and all of those things inspired in us, but also an acknowledgment that it isn’t all about folk looking pretty and pleasuring each other. There is a darker underbelly to our urges and I’m constantly poking it with a series of sharp sticks and rubbing salt into the wounds I manage to inflict.
TEOB: I tried to find out about “These Papercuts” (sound track artist for the films)… who is it? I loved it!
MB: Oh that’s me. Music was my first artistic intent and I have been playing in experimental/noise/industrial/whatever bands since my mid teens. Currently I am the vocalist and lyricist with a Rocky/Bluesy affair called Sleeping Pictures and am also one half of Lark Blames with Lloyd James of Naevus.
These Papercuts is the name I have chosen for my solo audio work, though these days I don’t really have much time to concentrate on this outside of the soundtracks for the short films now, though would consider the idea of pursuing the opportunity of releasing some of this material if that ever arose.
There is a myspace page for the project online, if anyone can be bothered navigating the fucking shambles that that site has now decended into.
TEOB: Will you be expanding Disapointed Viginity beyond short films and photos?
MB: There is a DVD release of the films planned, so hopefully Disappointed Virginity will be sneaking off of the internet and into your homes soon. Other than that it is a general term to cover everything that I do in this particular recognizable style, the animations for example and will encompass anything else that evolves from that.
There is a small section on my site for a few short colour sets I have put together called “The Futile Nature of Eroticism”, but in a lot of ways I remain uncomfortable with them sitting side by side with my more recognizable DV moods and atmospheres, so might remove and display elsewhere.