BodyMovieMachine
by Sophie Paul
Voices:
1. Body. A fleshy dreamscape, holding language and sensation in her guts.
2. Desire. Language and sensation. Fucking cliché– I am a rom-com heroine and every great love song is written about me.
3. Analytica. Apocalyptic leftovers from a thesis blown to bits. I have to believe that we are our own intimacies.

* * *

BODY

BODY: She was the kind of woman who began in the middle, arranged around her belly button. This body is a dissenting allegory. She resists the
metaphor of woman-becoming-earth. Body eats allegory, chewing it to mulch, stomaching mountains of metaphor and bile. Something about the impossibility of being impermeable — her teeth floating like chunks in the
soup. Everything about her was eventual, uncrossed; you could smell her before she became visible; indulging, always, in the presence she had outside of her own skin.

DESIRE: Hello you,
I am a constellation of body-sensations and I’m wandering through myself. I’m approaching some twisted notion that we can embody our own intimacies, or something like intimacy — iridescence — the fantasies we fashion for ourselves out of the fictions made for us.

ANALYTICA:
Tavi Meraud said, “This potentially touchy matter of pressing close.” 1

Luce Irigaray said, “Seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, living... wait to be made fecund by an innocent potency.”2

DESIRE: And you, which is also myself, my imaginary reader — exist in a multiplicity of possibilities, within which together we create endless fictional, fluctuating, fucking intimacies.

ANALYTICA: We touch in pursuit of a fecund potency and curate a methodology to search inside ourselves for transcendence amongst fragments of the everyday. The point is to reconceive what intimacy might be and how it travels — charged with electrified potency through our television screens, our skin, and the pages of the books we read. When Meraud says, pressing close, “touch is the marker of intimacy”3, we think of holding–touching–kissing; it makes us feel electric — like we’ve finally reached THE END of our movie.

To find moments of intimacy within oneself is perhaps to engage with fragmentary, fictitious, excessive moments (the moments we find in the middle of the movie), that have woven
themselves imperceptibly between the lines and through the surfaces that surround us.

BODY: The kind of woman who began in the middle.

DESIRE: The debris of this body can be found scattered beyond the limits of this language where my limbs flow into rivers and my tongue gathers like clay underfoot. Beyond this language, the words weep from my veins and melt senselessly into the landscape. They seep from the tip of my tongue to the back of your throat and dissolve.

BODY: The skin, boiled in its own blood-custard, encompassed her whole. She would listlessly roam the house in it, searching for parts of herself that might have slipped away.
Behind the sofa, into the kitchen, in slippers, the vegetables and yoghurt at the back of the fridge...

ANALYTICA: Body is finding intimacy in the littered surroundings of a life, becoming and unbecoming together as fresh linen, baking bread and looking into oil spills.

DESIRE: It finds itself living through glimpses of the strangers I fall in love with, through the fictions I reconstruct, and through you, my focal point, my 5-minute mystery, my nowhere nymph —

Chris Kraus said, “Since I’m in love with you I’ll pretend that you’re unique.” 4

If I’m going to be my own lover, then I’m going to write about my body as if I am a cinematic dreamscape and every great love song was written about me:

BODY: When she moved it was like opening old windows. There was something crusty about her edges, but the change in the air was palpable. She moves whilst the rest of us go about
picking up empty cups, pretending not to notice. We must have looked disgusting, greasy, dirty — the unmistakable stink of her own milk sang, holding up our own worry.

DESIRE: I want to paint myself like I have a chance — like I’m hovering somewhere between desire and disgust. Like I’m a narcissist in a cinema, masturbating to the sight of my own body.

I’m reclaiming my own permeability, I’m finding myself scattered around the house like there are parts of me that have fallen off. If my existence here is a series of constellated noises and flesh-shapes, then that makes me a movie and I’m watching myself.

BODY: She didn’t want to feel relief. Relief was gone, the days were a blur to her now. She wanted to feel with trembling hands, contorted, blue, shooting. Fully formed, she made with her hands inseparable pleasures. Running her fingers through time, her flushed breath, the music starting — a sense of completion, the smell of possibility.

DESIRE: These are my fantasies and this is my body: movie love, watching myself in the reflection of the screen, entwined in the fiction I’m trying to become. This place brings me crying in front of strangers, kissing in the rain, and finding my ever-after.

Masha Tupitsyn said, “This place is my shot at being real. At being a future.”5

MOVIE

BODY: She’s on a journey to discover herself, so she reaches deep down, and just as her fingers are brushing her core she brings it up — the key to her own wholeness. It will sit in the palm of her hand: an inconsequential ball of matter that is actually her own making. She will arrange herself around it and everyone will marvel at her dimensions.

ANALYTICA: Undulating between our own skin and the escapism of the screen (a skin-like barrier, technology, ectoplasmic membrane) we find and engage with fictions that learn from
and lean into bodily experience. Intimacy finds itself mediated as it meets surfaces that change its shape and through this process we search for something like closeness to sustain our fantasies. We search for the electric and the intimate to sustain us with “blood and milk,
air and water and light.”6 We search for the intimate to show us ourselves
—In duplicate,
In reflections,
In refractions.

DESIRE: Masha Tupitsyn said, “You wouldn’t notice me anywhere else but in a movie.”7

BODY: Body isn’t a temple body is a loud banging on the front door, body is encompassed in a cacophony of noise, body is a feature in a fleshy mural, body is in an interview with itself, body is a salad and it’s made of slices, body is doing dances and I know its language.

DESIRE: Can my body become a cinematic site, a universal love language?

Okay. My body is a cinematic site. I am a love language. My tongue is a highway and I’m travelling from end to end. Far away, further than our television screens, our palms enveloped in each other, licking the corner of the page, beyond the limits of my physical form. Golden buttery light breaking over the city, my fingers buzz like spectators at a wedding. After the credits roll and our timelines reset, I am new and fully formed, I am the tide rushing in and out, gently licking your toes.

BODY: She needs somebody to BANG! BANG! BANG! On the inside out BANG! BANG! BANG! Like an entire chorus of arms and legs BANG! BANG! BANG! A loud banging on the front door.

I’m sorry. Did I wake you?

DESIRE: In this place my desperation is like an art movement, archaic, I keep it under wraps like lovers in rooms of a house. This necessary thing I have — longing — is growing old, like
a veil of dust settling on the closed-cupboard doors of my cunt.

ANALYTICA: Intimacy between the self and cinematic dreamscape (a capitalist entity, also otherworldly lover’s fantasy, mediated through the screen) reveals a distance between reality and fantasy that starts to mesh and question what intimacy is in the realm of the real. If this is a potentially touchy matter of pressing close, then the skin is a carrier of intimacy and our task is to identify “the locus of the real.”8 In a world of “love through screens”9 between digital bodies, can we consider the screen as a kind of second skin? This is love across another time-space dimension, and skin is a fragile membrane between fantasy and reality.

BODY: Her poor little lips erupted with adventures, lit up and bulging in her hand. Her dreams, perverted, the kitchen table, rotten teeth; she is in love and she is everyone. So uncomfortable with the sentimentality, secretly enjoying it (bastards).

DESIRE: This is love and I am dancing in it. I am skin, membrane and realer than a real dream-baby! A stolen glance across a room, flirting with chance, kissing familiar smells. I am
sick to death of your promises in front of the television so now I am turning myself upside down and following the humming noise through to the stars.

MACHINE

ANALYTICA: Jean-Luc Nancy said Corpus, he said, “A body begins and ends against another body,”10

Hito Steyerl said Ripping Reality, she said, “A kiss seen from the point of view of scanning technology...merges various actors, usually two, into one surface.”11

Ripping Reality could almost be a romantic movie moment: two bodies becoming one under the watchful gaze of eternal love. In this example fact(body) is absorbed by the
physical(body) in duplicate. The body, through the screen, melts into another rather more intimate surface because it doesn’t just cross a barrier, but absorbs it completely.

Steyerl’s kiss “bends surfaces and shapes them into affective topologies,”12 and the kiss contradicts the skin as a “membrane of separation”13, because through the scanning screen the kiss will fold, bend, and manipulate, creating an array of fictions/interpretations/
constructed perceptions. This throws into uncertainty the body and skin as a definitive barrier or truth. The complication in intimacy through the ‘unfeeling’ eye of the machine is
that we project onto it. We project through and with it, hence dissolving any pretence that it cannot feel love.

BODY: At various stages, her dreams succumbed to her screaming demands for more, until, very content with herself, she was full, with multitudes inside of her.

BodyMovieMachine: writing a letter at midnight, burning candle, running through the snow in her pants, dripping tears through the phone, dancing a striptease, running fully clothed through a lake, mixtape, shower-head, unmade bed —

BodyMovieMachine an icon —
BodyMovieMachine ... beautiful, decided to stay in it.

DESIRE: I am fantasy, full and future. Corrupted with fictions that tessellate around my BodyMovieMachine until we are indistinguishable. I am beyond skin and screen, full of liquid
possibilities and hopelessly devoted. I am fucking in duplicate, I am pretending really hard and I’m almost there... nobody puts me in the corner.


1. Meraud, Tavi, Iridescence, Intimacies, in: ‘What’s Love (or Care, Intimacy, Warmth, Affection) Got to Do with It?’ (Berlin, Germany: Sternberg Press, 2017) p.139.
2. Irigaray, Luce, Elemental Passions. (London, UK: The Athlone Press Ltd, 1992). p.8.
3. Meraud, 2017, p.155.
4. Kraus, Chris, I Love Dick (London, UK: Serpent’s Tail, 2016).
5. Tupitsyn, Masha, Beauty Talk and Monsters (Los Angeles, CA: Semiotext(e), 2007) p.12.
6. Irigaray, 1992, p.25.
7. Tupitsyn, 2007, p.11.
8. Meraud, 2017, p.156.
9. Ibid, p.159.
10. Nancy, Jean-Luc, Corpus (New York, NY: Fordham University Press, 2008) p.150.
11. Steyerl, Hito, Ripping Reality: Blind Spots and Wrecked Data in 3D, in: ‘Duty Free Art: Art in the Age of Planetary Civil War.’ (London, UK, Brooklyn,NY, USA: Verso Press, 2019) p.193.
12. Ibid.
13. Connor, Steven, The Book of Skin (London, UK: Reaktion Books, 2004) p.66.

Sophie Paul is a postdisciplinary designer-writer based in South East London and Oxfordshire. Working with critical writing, collaborative publishing, and experimental performance, her interests intersect critical theory, trashiness, and eroticisms. 

She has run online writing workshops, interventionist performances, and dissenting tours of institutional spaces, introducing alternative dialogues around place and the excessive body as a site for interruption and coming-together.

Instagram @theunofficialsoupdragon

www.sophieapaul.com