A little while ago I started collecting erotic art by women.
I am the proud owner of some Annie Sprinkle tit prints and my bedroom walls are covered with artwork from Georgie Tier. So I was really excited when I found out about an erotic photo book for the visually impaired and blind by the Canadian artist Lisa Murphy.
tactile mind is a handmade thermoform book consisting of 17 3-D tactile photographs on white plastic pages with a photo and descriptive Braille text accompaniment. A book that you can see purely by feeling it, allowing you to fill in any gaps of an image or to create a complete story with whatever images your mind creates.
I thought: What ground-breaking work. Not just to photograph your friends in the nude but to then make 3D representations of these stills so that the images could be felt by everyone, especially people who cannot see is a ground-breaking project. Chapeau to Lisa! So I had to order a limited edition copy of tactile mind for my art collection.
My favourite 3D image is on the cover of the book – a beautiful representation of a vagina. I have ordered this page as an extra item to get it framed as I always enjoy artwork that celebrates the female sex.
The reactions to the tactile mind have been mixed – a lot of the conservative media have been slagging the book off quoting blind people who said that they do not want ‘porn for the blind’. What a shame that the (blind) people who were interviewed had never seen or felt Lisa’s book but made judgements based on the journalist’s descriptions.
It always baffles me when people are so quick to judge and condemn rather than applaud pioneering work. I always think – if you do not like what you see why don’t you make your own or at least be supportive of people who try something new? It takes courage to journey onto the road less travelled…And especially for women who are taught to play it safe, it is great when they decide to take risks and express themselves freely, particularly in a sexual arena.
I am really intrigued by this unique hand-crafted book – part photography, part sculpture, part image descriptions written in Braille. So I contacted Lisa to congratulate her on her exciting work and ask her a few questions on her controversial book.
This is what Lisa told me:
Interview with Lisa Murphy:
What inspired you to create ‘tactile mind’?
I wanted to do the book for a challenge – I had the knowledge (from getting my certificate in Tactile Graphics and volunteering for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind) and I wanted to apply this to my own work of nudes. All my friends, sighted, vision impaired and blind all thought it was a fun wacky idea, so I went from there.
What is the message of your book?
tactile mind is a book of my photographs for blind and vision impaired readers. Internationally; I think this book has sent out the message that more books for vision impaired and blind people are needed in the world, and even on a deeper note – that people have their own opinions regardless of their abilities or disabilities. This reflects from a sexual standpoint as well.
Why are all the models masked?
The models are masked for a couple of reasons. 1. I love making masks -( I am a big Halloween junkie.) 2. it’s much easier for me to convince someone to have their photo taken in front of a camera with nothing on if they are anonymous .3. Tactually, I thought it would be more interesting for the pictures to be read – instead of a standard head shape throughout the entire book.
Why are there no explicit images say for example of an erect penis or penetration?
There are no explicit images because the shoots just didn’t go there. These subjects are also my friends. It was a really beautiful experience to take personal shots of people, who were so trusting of me, and be allowed to use their photograph for a third party to “see”. Very much a combined effort.
What is your definition of porn?
My definition of porn is penetration with yourself, another person, a couple of other people, but captured with instruments or electronics. But even my opinion on that is loose. Sex is a beautiful thing – we all came from somewhere. I don’t see my book as pornographic. It has been called many names – “erotic”, “sensual” , “original art”, “fetish – oriented”, ‘porn”, and some people don’t like it at all.
Why did you chose to use the medium of text only to describe the pictures rather than to tell a story?
The Braille describes the pictures rather than “tells a story” because the story for this book is the pictures. It is a book of my real photographs for the blind and vision impaired. Looking back, to write stories with the images,- I am not much of a writer – and I wanted to create a piece that was real (non-fiction) which this is.
How has your artwork been received?
The artwork has been received with a very mixed response. People don’t understand why a naked woman has a square head, but if they saw the photograph or read the braille, and realized it was a real picture, they might understand the artwork a bit more. A lot of people who do not like this work have never seen it or touched it. Very few copies are out in the world, so I am not sure what they are basing their opinions on. At least people are interested in it, regardless if they decide to like it or not. I think it is great that there is dialogue in the world about a book.
Are you going to do further erotic art projects using the techniques applied in the book?
I am currently thinking up/ working on my next project. Not sure exactly what it will be, or what materials I might use, but it should be interesting.
More info on Lisa and her book: www.tactilemindbook.
I LOVE “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” – the new TV series. It is hothothot! I love the huge variety of hunky guys on it. Not only do they have fit bodies but gorgeous faces too and I drool over them without shame. Whilst my partner enjoys the CGI fight scenes, I love the sex scenes, especially when they are guy-on-guy or orgies. It is a beautifully shot and post-produced programme. I wish I could afford a tenth of their budget and technology for my new film. In the meantime I enjoy watching the guys – it is not often that we get to see some guy candy making out on prime-time TV.
I hope they will never make a porn spoof of this series as it will burst my bubble: The guys will be wearing socks and watches, have hairy beer bellies and there will be endless tunnel vision penetration shots. No more hunky male chest, back and bum shots but Barbie doll faces winking into camera trying to convince us that they are going to COME! I rather watch well-made soft porn any time as I have no problems filling in the gaps in my naughty mind…
“Spanish Flies” by Petra Joy
Petra explores Barcelona’s sexy side.
Originally published in Forum Magazine Vol 42 Issue 1.