/ LYDIA PORTER (@lydgporter)

Slipping through the gap

I have a lover. We both make films but of a very different nature and style. We are both people of a very different nature and style and I like what we have all the more for that. Before we became lovers we had fleeting conversations that came about from chance encounters. One of those times he said he is hard to love. I said that you aren’t hard to love, you just haven’t found the right person to be with yet. There was no pretence or ulterior motive to this conversation when we had it, but it was one of the first meaningful things we spoke about. Another time after that he sat in the doorway and said he needed help, asking me if I can give him what he needs. He stretched out and tried to hold onto my ankle. We were both with other people at the time. I said no, and tried to close the door, each of us pushing against it from opposing sides. There has always been that kind of performative intensity to our relationship, how we manifest our personalities in response to one another lends itself to dramatics, but it isn’t without real feeling either.

I can’t remember which of us suggested it, but we decided to make films in the style of one another. I find it difficult to discern my own style, but I know what I like when I’m making it. I worry that this isn’t good enough and I need to be able to say it. Formalise it into something more cohesive. This wasn’t the first time I had thought about doing something filmic together. I had thought about asking him to film me reading out an account written in my perspective of our first romantic encounter. He would hear it for the first time as he filmed, with the intention of capturing the reaction in the hand of the camera. I lost heart in the idea and never mentioned it.

The video took one day to make. Sometimes I think how little we knew each other when we did this, and then I think that we didn’t need to know each other incredibly well to understand one another in a romantic capacity. How important that is when making art. When I edited the video I had the last shot of me giving instructions to my friend behind the camera, so the last image was a blurry jolt of me looking directly into the lens or I suppose directly at him as he was the only intended recipient. I love what I made. It is a lot easier to play at being someone else. To try their style on, to purposefully make decisions that you wouldn’t have otherwise felt comfortable with. There isn’t all the doubt that comes from trying to understand what you are doing and why. I accepted the decisions that were only derivatively my own with more certainty. I enjoyed the thought that somewhere else decisions were being made for me in the same way. Someone was doing the slippery task of crawling into my mind. The video I received in return felt familiar; watching it was like meeting someone again after a long time spent apart.

Sometimes when we are together I think we are just acting out the relationship. We say the things we say to each other for the imaginary audience. He licks the blood off my fingers and puts them in his mouth to see himself doing it. To see me seeing it. The response is secondary, the experience once removed. I think we have both been watching ourselves and this thing between us as if we are outside of it. Part of that is the way he tells stories. The intimacy of the detail makes me self-conscious and I can’t stop imaging what he would say to other people when I am the subject matter of the anecdote. It’s like wearing myself as a second layer, seeing the audience perspective of myself and my life, and in one sense it is very freeing as I am not too worried or committed to it, but I also wonder if I will ever be able to exist unconsciously in myself again or if it will always feel like I am filming or being filmed.