Marc Blackie

by Horror Sleaze Trash on April 14, 2011

Horror Sleaze and Trash delve into the brilliantly dark and carnal mind of Disappointed Virginity creator, Marc Blackie, and discuss the working behind his sublimely beautiful mutoscope’s and his feature films.  This is a man you would love to meet and an interview you really shouldn’t miss.


*Note – Below gifs are edited versions of the Mutoscope’s found on Marc site, click the gif to view the content in its original format.

HST: “Disappointed Virginity” is quite the paradox. Is it reference to a anxiety in still maintaining virginity, or the disappointment in its loss?

MB: It’s a term that I read in the novel “Hallucinating Foucault” and lovingly adopted as my own (though as has been pointed out to me since, was also used previously by Jean Baudrillard). It’s original context bears little relation to my own word, but something about these two words nestled next to each other struck a really impressive (minor) chord with me and lodged itself in my psyche.
At about the same time I began working on the first version of my website to display my work to an apathetic and jaded audience and so this term that had possessed me to near obsessive levels became an obvious banner to work beneath. It has since taken on it’s own meaning for me in relation to my artistic intent, but as with a lot of what I do I am happy for it to be suitably ambiguous, evocative if not explicit in meaning.

HST: Its beautiful how a collection of words can do that to an idea, Fit each other so well. On the topic of virginity and disappointment, What did your first sexual experience entail?

MB: Oh, the loss of my own virginity was probably no more or less disappointing than most over peoples and is almost entirely unremarkable – other than being shooed out of the house shortly afterwards as the girls boyfriend was due to arrive.

My first sexual experiences were at quite a young age though, with the daughter of some nearby neighbours and due to the things she wanted to try out, I’m fairly sure she had found her father’s supply of well worn vhs tapes languishing at the back of a wardrobe somewhere. Why am I telling you this again?

HST: Haha aim not sure, but I’m glad you are, the truth is just so sublimely surreal. There is a brilliance in your Mutoscope images. Is it a fallacy that a picture tells a thousand stories. Is there more gusto behind, say, three rotating images, or a connection of images in an animated sequence.

MB:There is much content available now that seems only too happy to prove that not every picture can tell a thousand stories and there even seems to be no small competition to produce the blandest of possible images these days. As aspirations go, that’s probably not the best thing to aim for, though maybe there is some anti-achievement or post-inspirational movement going on these days that no one has told me about.

The idea for what has become the mutoscope images occurred to me a while ago and I’ve only recently gotten around to perfecting the technique I use to create them – that is to say a series of fifty to a hundred photographs animated current with the use of javascript.

My still images are always shot in portrait, so when I first began making the short films I was frustrated at having to shoot in a landscape orientation. I would often frame the scene vertically through the viewfinder and begrudgingly turn the camera back ninety degrees and find something to fill what to me was an annoying empty space. I did think about shooting whole films in a portrait orientation, but realize that this would make them tricky to screen away from my website, so laid the idea to rest.

Years later I watched a short documentary on the old mutoscope/peepshow machines, where the user turns a handle to produce the illusion of movement from a series of individual photos and the concept of animating the scenes with the use of web technology immediately clicked into place for me.

Originally, these were very basic portrait like images, with slight movements like breathing or blinking, but these have now evolved into the more elaborate scenarios I now have, with plans in mind to put together a more plot orientated short film using the same technique.

HST: I have seen the peepshow machines you mentioned. I remember seeing them in a museum in Amsterdam. I remembered it because a plaque mentioned that they were found on/near beaches. The flipping images where very graphic and I just remember thinking, “what a strange place to put something like this” Is the line between voyeur and observer thin or thick, or even there at all?

MB: Yeah. If I follow up this amusement parlour genre I should really start thinking about producing an arcade machine of my own..or maybe something for the xbox…

And yes, I do always think of these machines as being associated with a beach holiday setting. Maybe salt water and the sound of seagulls are prone to produce voyeuristic urges. Either that or the candyfloss.

In this sense would it be fair to say that the images are an interaction with its audience, as well as the audience observing them objectively? separately?

I often wonder if the audience is with me with a lot of what I do and considering commentary I have read on my work or random musings here and there, I’m inclined to think that more often than not they’re seeing things differently from my intention.
Which is fine of course. I like mixing the blatant with the obtuse, sometimes inside of the same image or idea and also with the titles I give my images often having veiled meanings of their own….. okay, yeah, I guess I’m an awkward fucker and probably shouldn’t complain when my work is misinterpreted.

Though it does annoy me when what I do is pigeon holed as being fetishistic or D/s in it’s outlook. Certain overlaps in attitude are there, I’ll grant you, but I find all these fetish-crap deeply irritating and so would rather it not be used as a sign post towards what I do.

HST: I can understand that on a personal level. Its strange. I don’t feel a pretense with you, like i have with many other people in the industry. You are approachable, when; and allow me to be frank, your style of art can be actually quite threatening to some. How important is it to you to maintain a certain level of social acceptance. Well, not social acceptance but at least a verifiable form of sanity?

MB: I very often have people I work with say to be after the shoot that I am not how they expected me to be. This generally prompts me to enquire as to what they were expecting and I’m yet to receive any sort of adequate explanation from anyone. I concede that my work is awkward and has a certain unsettling quality to it, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that I then have to be some Lynchian type madman to produce it. None the less, a lot of people I work with can be quite intimidated by me and my concepts, so a very important part of what I do is having the ability to make people feel at ease and comfortable with proceedings. Also there is a lot of dark humour in what I do, which not only helps alleviate some of the harshness but in the same way also disarms and sugars the pills for some of the darker moments.

HST: The excessive drinking and smoking habit helps to an extent, right?

MB: I do shoot a lot of great work whilst suffering with a god awful hangover. I think of those as my “Christopher Doyle Shoots”.

HST: I find the most beautiful aspect to your images in their subtle moments. The caressing of a breast or tweak of a nipple. Juxtaposition (i know, that’s a wanky word) is ever present to your style. Strength and vulnerability. Is this a conscious effort to draw your viewer into an evoked response?

MB: Well in a way it’s like giving with one hand and taking with another. The gentle disarms and the unnerving kicks in the shins. For this reason I feel that my photos and films and whatnot work best in context of themselves. If I have been published in an anthology, magazine/ whatever or take part in group exhibitions, my work doesn’t make as much cohesive sense as when viewed piece to piece. Everything I do is part of the same universe and ideally I would like it to be viewed as such, for the viewer to get the most from it.

HST: You battle the Misogynist label like so many strong artist out there, what is your usual response to that?

MB: Yeah, that label means that you have missed the point. Either that or I am denial, but I would like to think it is the former. The M word does seem to get thrown at me by men more so than women and I do take great delight in knowing that the female of the species seems much more likely to get and enjoy my work.

On the same note though, Hans Bellmer, Georges Bataille and Nobuyoshi Araki are three very inspirational figures for me and they have all been accused of the same thing at times – so either it’s a case of being in very good company or “Who am I kidding?”.

HST: Speaking of good company, Michel Houellebecq said, and i quote from his novel Whatever – “On Sunday morning I went out for a while in the neighbourhood; I bought some raisin bread. The day was warm but a little sad, as Sundays often are in Paris, especially when one doesn’t believe in God.” Do you believe in God Marc?

MB: No, of course not. Not really much point discussing it though – easy targets, battles already been won and all that. I believe in Houellebecq though, but then I have always had a spot for bitter French men.

HST: Haha. Absolutely. I wonder what God would think of the ancient Japanese fetish, Genki. I know you are a fan of squids. Ever see this as a artistic adventure you would embark on? Or perhaps even a sexual adventure.

MB: Oh I have shot with octopus before and then every bugger started doing it, so I have hung up the tentacles for now. Same thing happened with Japanese rope bondage actually – was having fun working with that for a while until lots of people started cluelessly blundering through rope work whilst completely missing the point and ascetics of the act in the meantime.

HST: Tell me a little about your newest film “A Special Form of Denial”. (view films here.)

MB: It’s actually my oldest film and some of the footage was shot as long ago as 2007, when I first began to experiment with video. It was very much a learning process for me, getting my head around editing and composition and I generally spent too much time working on it until I got completely sick of it all. I was never quite able to get a soundtrack that I was happy with either (as I compose all my own audio also) so was happy to drop the project for a while.

I began working on the shorter films as a break from it and then thanks to a hard drive crash lost all of the source material. Was quite glad to be rid of it until I by chance came across a DVD of a very early cut, which I have now re-edited (with the help of the end of scenes found on tapes that had largely been recorded over) into it’s current form – down from 23 mins to 11.

The film itself is very much of an introduction to my work applied to the moving image. There is no plot or scenario of any sort, just various scenes as you would expect to see within my still images and featuring many of my regular models.

HST: It’s been a damn pleasure and i want to thank you for chewing the fat with me, your a very interesting character.  I await your future work with an aroused, however nervous, anticipation.

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