18 Jul Languages of rope
Nawakiri Shin, a dear friend of mine, translated something I wrote a while ago into into Chinese and put it on his website. Sooner or later this is going to make me big-headed, but for now I mostly feel very happy and honoured about seeing my writing being spread to a completely different audience.
You can read it here if you are interested in Chinese, the original English one a bit further down in this post. But first I would like to muse a bit on language..
It is strange how passions can transgress any written or spoken language; tying with someone who does not speak the languages I know have never been a problem. But when it comes down to speaking, writing, exchange of words, it gets trickier. There is so much knowledge out there, so much love for what we do, but language barriers sometimes prevents the sharing of this. But people like Shin or NuitDeTokyo, as well as internet and technology, is slowly changing this. Because you know what? I think we want to interact, in one way or another. We want to know more, feel more, live more to varying degrees.
Language can also be about privilege. Who can speak what, which language is favoured and how does it act towards those who do not speak? In opening up and making sure that many voices are heard, listened to and interacted with, we can destabilise defaults and connect with each other.
Comparing rope as a language to the written or spoken word, I can sometimes find that one has more possibilities than the other, but they are not mutually exclusive. We need to do more rope, to listen more to each other, let images inspire but also words and actions of those who we admire. Rope is a language of the body, neither neutral or always objective, but always evolving and ever changing. I want to be the same, to strive not for perfection or becoming ‘better’, not a goal orientated vision of what we can do with ourselves, our bodies and our minds, but one in which we seek to understand each other more, respect and admire and learn because of learning itself. The journey you know?
Time for me to stop rambling. Thank you for reading. And thank you Nawakiri Shin for translating, FrenchLibertine for being an awesome rope partner, and Jenis for taking the wonderful photos:
I was tying with French Libertine again, but it was a different occasion than usual. Jenis had kindly offered to take some photos and even kinder was Esinem, who let us work in his wonderful studio. I wanted to do some floorwork, and some partials, as I felt ready to move like that with rope again, focussing less on the technical. And to be honest, it was great spending the Valentines with people I adore, and doing stuff which is great. Before I got there, sitting on the bus, I had an idea in my head about creating something visual in the same time as getting really close. To work in that studio also added tons of feeling to it, with its decor and the tatami flooring. If you have never heard the sound of rope and tatami, I can only try to describe it.
Rope for me will always be more than just yarn. It has so many specific properties, and when you find the perfect rope and tying together with someone, nothing is as good as exploring all the elements of it. You know that sound when you snap a coil open? How it sounds when it passes through your hands? The creaks when it is pulled tightly, the sound when it reacts to its own tension. When you have rope and bodies over a tatami mat, or wooden floor, it is like an orchestra. Kneeling on the tatami mat, that is the slow tap on the stand which the conductor do to signal that we are about to start. The conductor, her body, and the bodies of the orchestra; the rope bottom, the environment around them. Then, we have the overture, slowly building something up, the strings working, the bass setting a baseline and a first inkling of a perhaps reoccuring tune; the sound which characterises not just the overture, but how the whole piece will move you.
After having kneeled on the floor, my tapping on the stand consisted of focussing on a point just above the shoulders, watching first if there was any tension, then my right palm between her shoulders, to feel. In those moments, I had captured her attention, allowing her to rest into the tunes, her feeding the notes back to me. A slow shudder, she took a deep breath; in and out. And I could not help but to prolong that moment, you know the moment when the conductor has tapped in for attention and up to the point she lowers their hands to mark the beginning of the overture. No hurry, just anticipation. I took a deep breathe in, as I pulled the first rope towards me, and unsnap the coil is next to her ear. She shudders at the sound, that very Pavlovian response. The first rope is felt, before it even touched her skin. And then it did. Traced over her shoulder, then over her chest. A simple TK, tying it with tactility, not forgetting about technique but working more on tempo and what is underneath the ropes and in them, rather than the ropes themselves.
Her body provided me with cues, like a lead violinist and her string, the conductor conducts but also moves with that lead, the almost extravagant body language of the lead violinist, so that the rest of the strings can follow. But then, looking at the pictures from the session, when I finalised the TK with a wrap between the breasts, I was looking at the rope, rather than her. I actually did not realise I was doing that. On one level I can really understand why and where it comes from; having that focus on the ropes the last couple of months makes you look at the ropes more than the person. I’m slowly coming out of that headspace, and looking forward to it. All along while tying, the rope moved across the tatami, across her body, the rest of the music piece came out, intense sounds and small thumps.Having finished the TK, I continued towards creating the visual element. Tying her leg, tightly, but not really resisting the urge to close my mouth around her knee. The French Libertine let out a small whimper.
As I continued a quite simple partial, I kind of forgot the camera, but kept focus on my rope-bottom, and the vision in front of me. Watching the photos, I think I have now learned one thing; get my arse out of the way. Not being used to creating visual images for someone who takes photos, I did what I usually do; being very close, moving around a lot. That does not really work, if one wants to create images with a focus on the rope bottom and the rope.
Having finished the leg tie, I then did some rope in the face, as well as pulling the other leg backwards, making the partial more demanding. And when we had finished I remembered how much I love tying like this. There will be more to come. But if there is someone with a camera, I’ll just have to remember to be every now and again step away.
Some of those mentioned in this post: