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Photography - ISSUE #11

i, other

Words and photography by David Ụzọchukwu

The camera dangles from the ceiling. Its strap is precariously wrapped around my bedroom lamp. The lens points downward, towards me. I only have a rough idea of what this looks like, but I press the remote shutter in my hand anyway.

It’s a soft beginning of what will become a tradition of self-portraiture. My tripod will wobble on rocks and rooftops. I will run over beaches to beat my 10-second timer, throw myself down into river beds, slip in a waterfall.

The discomfort in these settings rips away all the walls I have built up. When I commit to the unease, I become part of something bigger. An emotion fills me until I spill. I don’t really feel my body as I crouch in front of the small camera screen. The angle is not quite right. Again. At some point, I’m drained.

The camera opens up a room where I can really see myself, like a mirror that reflects more than skin. Who am I at my strongest, in my deepest dreams, at my loneliest and most jealous? How do I want to be perceived? Who can I see myself being?

A pale glow on my face as I meditate in front of my laptop screen. I have the strange habit of reframing an image with my hands while I decide how to crop it (usually closer). It looks like I’m working a spell into my computer - soft repetitive motions as I merge images.

Zoomed in at 300%, my skin becomes an abstract landscape. My mouse wanders the borders of my body, letting something new begin around its contours. I remove human traces, embed my body in the sky. In its new home, my flesh stretches into new shapes, cuts through time, makes sense of past and future selves.

I save the file, send it to my phone to look at over the next day. The image and I are on honeymoon. No one else knows about it. For a while, who I am is in my hands.

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