I flank my screens on each side by two stone lions.
We offer guardianship for your screens. We offer guardianship to turned on screens. We offer to turn your screens on.
I’m looking for guardians just as you choose your guards, your bodyguards to walk beside you. I find guardianship a growing instinct in much more than a body. Somewhere in a body trapped between not giving nor wanting guardianship, but simply wondering why it is absent at all from plain sight? Should we not see the guardians that have been bestowed on us?
And not hold on to a guardian angel that follows you more strictly than a surveillance camera ever cared to do? At least when caught on camera, you appear on the screens but who knows where the footage registered through the eyes of the angel goes to? What about a visual sewage system? Can I be assured that everything you’ve ever seen has or is currently being digested and soon out of your system? Our bodies can’t hold onto that many recordings without them coming out some end. And so I wonder, how was I so easily tricked into thinking it safer to be watched than to be hidden? Why wasn’t I taught how to hide? I accepted an angel that watched me every second of the day but now I hurry to cover up the security cameras in my studio? So much trust in surveillance companionships and so little muscle to the floating eye in the corner of the room. What would you do to all of us if you were born even a little more than a cyclops, more than a camera observing coolly? How much of a hunk would you choose to become, camera, if eyes could grow bodies like a germinating seed? I wonder if that is what you fantasise about at night, all alone in night vision darkness. Must be a curse to see, that's why they made you without eyelids. It must be unbearable to never close your only eye even for a blink or two. Counting the blinks like seconds, hoping maybe they’ll never finish and you can blink into asleep. With such an attractive big eye, it’s lucky you don’t have any long eyelashes to bat in our direction. We would all turn our eyes to you like a flower to the sun. I wonder if the sun’s fantasy is to be the last image we see before our retinas burn to blindness, or does it feel more disappointed that no eyes will risk their sight even for a glimpse of it. My eyes would fog with envy on any surveillance camera.
To tell someone their eyes have no eyelids is like telling them they don’t have a backbone. If only you could grow bodies and become walking eyes. We’ll spare you the gruesome image of the bodyguard as a hunk, a finesse musculature and a fitnessed image. Immaculate to eyes we can’t trust. Like those green eyes you can’t trust. Imagine being born with eyes that others are told not to trust nor follow. You might as well start deceiving them now because your eyes have a reputation hard to escape.
My eyes are an inbuilt pair of 3D glasses. My left eye sees a faint shade of green and the right one a shade of red. I hope it’s common in other eyes and I’m not a fool for it.
So for the sake of guardianship I had to deal with an angel. The walls have surveillance cameras. Maybe they are even made out of them, taking away all of my plug sockets to plug in their cables. If only they could leave me a free plug, not having to go out of the room with an extension lead just to power my light.
I’m no match physically. And even so, I don’t find my shortcomings reason enough to trigger what I’m looking for. Truthfully, nonexistent services that promise you to match with a guardian figure are wrong to be absent. Nonexistent because to tell you the truth, these do exist when we are the ones inventing them because they fail to offer us any system of protection. I’ll call this my escapism of sorts. Let me fictionalise this attractive quality you have, your precarity. Because it all starts with a good look at our bodies. My idea of theguardianship had its roots in a different body. Bodies built not like yours or mine. There is something so precarious in a power cable going into a screen. What is already inside them was sufficient until you started talking. Their inbuilt systems are intricate choreographies of protection. How you cut your way through their core. What more decorum could you wish to utter your thoughts than a marbled gallery with gold letters on the wall that tell you there will be no touching in this room. Somewhere in this decorum, I decided that screens were worth guarding. It was a necessity now that we started having nonchalant thoughts.
Where the touch stops I guess you thought a mouth should take over. Nothing short of a nightmare. I guess you mean more than what you meant by this. The more I think about it, the more clear I see that this isn’t about turning off the screens. What you said might as well mean to unplug. I thought we agreed not to think about unplugging, it’s not one of the good thoughts when we agree on care. But you had to pull the cord. So I decided that screens needed guardianship; how else would I see myself again if not through these screens? What if it comes a time when I will lose my reflection in the mirror or, what if what they say about being sucked into your vanity will also physically suck you into the mirror? Would I then stand to ever look at my self in that mirror again and, what use would I have for it? I’ve lost my narcissism. What a curse! and maybe I won’t even want it back if they ever reunite us. I hope narcissism takes me back if the time comes but mirrors have such conceited pride, I’m afraid it won’t happen.
To leave a screen turned on has, and for certain will have its repercussions. The mark it leaves is like a burn. Some screens are lucky enough to come from a manufacturer that anticipated the cruelty of teasing your screen to no good result. Only these can heal and cure, but others don’t have the means to even attempt to heal. Perhaps they are an older model, a less smartTV. No, these are the screens left turned on at night.
Bodies guarding bodies. Solid structures flaunting you on either side. Body structures. Of bodies to protect. I started looking for guardians when I saw the image of a smiling woman on a monitor inside a shop one-night last summer. Overprotected, that was my first thought. Beyond a solid glass vitrine was yet another layer of patterned security, this time a diamond weaved grill pulled down to put off the attempts of poking fun at a girl on screen. I thought about wanting protection as fighting the fear in your eyes, reattributing the danger to servitude.
We brought back into the present the lions to stand guard at the edge of your image. Stone-cold protection for an image on a screen. She’s not for us to touch. A power cut would be that deadly touch, betraying her from inside her safety, behind the lion’s back. Pull the cord on her smile. A turned-off screen. There’s nothing for us to look at anymore. Just keep walking.
I continue to experience unexpected restarts.
There’s a story I read of two girls, one kissing the other fit into her fist. This was only making her shrink until there was nothing left to kiss but her empty clenched fist. You wouldn’t believe the same one was holding the girl just five kisses ago. If anything, she only wished for her to grow bigger in her fist. Enlarged. One size fits all. A traumatic and seductive shrinking, nothing more to this tragic story. Off-guard we still are. These are just mean jokes on your strained eyes.
© Catinca Malaimare. Guardianship For Turned On Screens, 2020.
The chameleons in your speech mate with the chameleons on your tongue.
Will we get to see the off-springs of your mouth?
I’ve started seeing chameleons everywhere. Beyond a market of the actual animal, there’s an image market borrowing the face of the chameleon to distinguish just how visible you are now and how much more invisible you could be. It preaches that you should allow your cover to be visible, for you to give a face to this cover. Something to ignore needs a bland appearance. There should be a visible face to the invisible. It’s important for the absent things to be beautiful, looks are important when we like seeing what isn’t there.
We can own chameleons. We don’t become chameleons but we can wear them. Non-toxic, washable ones, applicable ones. I didn’t think I could go into a shop and step into the camouflage market. The visible face of the chameleon is on consumable packages. Packages that sell chameleonic nail polish, a responsible nude cover you rub off your nail when you’re done hiding. How does it feel to keep buying and plastering new patches of skin onto damaged bodies?
Did you approach me or was it I that approached you first? Did you lay down your eyes on me? Did you look down? There’s an intolerable height difference between us. Or, at least where I assume your eyes to be on the face of this building.
Everything seems upside down.
You, at last, look up.
I wonder how I look for someone with so many eyes? I’ve only been looked at with two eyes. Close your eyes, if it’s still within your powers, and picture this. You should be able to describe back my features better than I could with a mirror in front of me. Even if I tried, I am not my mirror; maybe a photograph resembles my face more.
How far do your eyes see? How far can you see with those eyes?
I’ve been seeing the same chameleons everywhere. I cracked their cover. I didn’t mean to get involved, not seeing wasn’t that bad. I won’t lie now that I’ve been seeing for a while and every corner that used to be dark is no longer an opportunity to hide. No mood lighting, just a constant light source to fake the sunlight indoors. Not even good enough to be called an Artificial Sun. It’s the spotlight you might get to step into in interrogation rooms.
Now, when you start seeing, you realise how long you’ve been watched and how much watching there’s still to be done. Most choose to return your looks, make it no accident that your intense scrutiny is returned with the accuracies and insecurities of your bedroom mirror. A mirror where your body and your hands get manipulated, shaping the poor reflection of your self that is not of your flesh and blood.
Why has the cover failed the chameleons? They’ve taken the camouflage off them and are selling it now as a beauty cover-up. Nude is safe. It’s the default, without features, just a sleek bodysuit for a body without a nude. (or a nude without a body?)
The first image that seemed to emerge from your body, chameleon, was a failed cover. I looked the other way, give you a chance to try to generate another. The second time you failed again, this mocking cover-up of a cover is only working on the blind. Too bad you’re fighting them all into opening up their eyes. Is your habit to fail every cover you produce going to continue? It’s only left a pile of discarded outer skins I go through, extracting only those that look like they could be used for some impromptu coverage. I’m not sure anymore if a cover isn’t just something to cloth your body in, but let’s keep pretending for the sake of reverting to my normal state of blindness where you watch me without permission. Please don’t tell me you are playing an act of faith and there’s real meaning to your chameleonic properties. I believe a lie when I see it. Even your third lucky cover is yet another failure.
Needless, I mustn't go on like this. You’ve taken up to be an eye bully and you couldn’t choose another pair of eyes to play your pranks on but mine. It’s the blind leading the blind.
I might be seeing more than I should. Keeping my eyes open way past their curfew. It’s you I am seeing more of than I should. You’re either letting me in on a secret or leading me on.
Is it such a mystery being invisible to you?
Can we lose all visible forms, become invisible people? You choose who to shut your eyes to, or have no eyes for someone else. I’m keen on not being disregarded here, you see. After all, it’s common to feel penitent. There’s no cure, but luckily, for me, there is healing from penitence, but no cure from seeing.
Statues are covered in cloth in churches celebrating the resurrection and I can’t stop thinking about eye tests. I wonder if we should aim to have nothing to look at to count as new blindness. If there’s nothing to look at then maybe I can just shut my eyes. They make you pray to a memory of a sculpture you looked at once before they covered it. A cruel eye test that ends when they remove the cover to symbolically give you your eyesight back. You decide if you’ve ever lost it. They make it seem like our eyes only matter when they look at something, not when they just look. And I thought I cheated on all the eye tests I ever took.
Did I get recruited by chameleons?
Did chameleons get ahead of us, of our eyes?
They are still in cover, an exhausted camouflage. It makes plain sight a game of hide and seek where you play until someone sees you, then you’re out of the game. Most of us like to play it like this. Hide and seek is only fun when you’re hiding. At the very least, then it turns into a game of looking, an exercise in watching without being seen. Perfect your angles to see more without showing more. Show less, assume that you don’t exist for anyone’s eyes if nothing that amounts to your own body is in sight, and they won’t look your way.
I keep thinking about how I’m performing with a reference screen, another pair of eyes either yours or mine, like trying to move your whole body, control the clothes you’re wearing, inside a room with a motion sensor that can trigger the neon strip light circuit to turn on quicker than it takes you to blink. You’ve been noticed, that’s what they say.
If you can see them and they can see you, can you say anymore that we are secure in what we see? So long for seeing as the symptomatic loophole in a system put off by blindness, where the blind-from-birth should live their lives curing their blindness, and where we eventually get to watch them die seeing. We should all die an open-eye death. To die humanely.
And yet I didn’t know that the first thing I would want to do is to see my reflection in the mirror. And yet, your reflection is the first thing they deny you. We keep our mirrors clothed in fabric to stir the dead away from the vanity of their reflection. I guess where there’s a mirror an eye falls for it. Foolish eye.
There are many accounts of how they reshape your eyelids to keep appearances. Of course, not blinking for so long can distort your eyelids. Don’t worry, you’ll be dead with your eyelids pulled down, it’s important to see while you’re alive. They mold and push and prop your eyelids up–that’s what an eye should look like closed, if you’ve forgotten, but maybe you’ve never seen one anyway. All I wish is to have a mirror where I can see through my eyelids and see them closed, pulled down over my eyes and reassured that I won’t have to open them again. I want to go back to believing I'm invisible if I hide my eyes under closed eyelids.
Chameleons. They are creatures of cover. They take cover when we show up, they are constantly disturbed sensibilities with poor nerve endings. Cover up, you are showing too much. Maybe distance isn’t so much on your mind? You’ve adopted strategical positions so your lenses maintain the focus and avoid becoming overwhelmed. I don’t get to fill your lenses.
You’ve got to be good looking cause you’re so hard to see, or so the lyrics say.
It’s more than glasses, it’s a headgear. Bodies in helmets.
© Catinca Malaimare.
The Chameleon In Your Speech, The Chameleons On Your Tongue, 2020.
We take technology in like a pill. Mixed with all the others in your pillbox. We take it with a duty we don’t usually indulge in. What? For our bodies? Never.
We take technology in like a pill. With sufficient water at regular intervals. It’s become more than a routine I got used to, now this pill is a supplement. And like any other supplement, it’s a good integration potentiator. Technology is the probiotic summoned to action when we conform to the antibiotics of our system. Technology can take many forms, it’s like a fantasy cobra snake fallen into the trance of a song. Who’s turn is it to sing to the snake? We always blame the snakes but not their singers.
So what if it scratches your throat and leaves you with an irritating feeling of having something stuck down your trachea? I look at you as it gets stuck at the back of your neck while you get caught in the annoying habit of digging after it with your tongue, symptomatic of your other habit of licking your wounds. Technology is a choking hazard.
You don’t even know the myriad of shapes your mouth can take while occasionally producing a sound. Now I look at you and wonder if we share the same imagination. Have you ever wondered if your lips could turn into eyelids? Even if they force our eyes to stop blinking and prop our eyelids open, they will still shut our mouths, seal our lips tight. Our eyes have no more eyelids, we’ll replace them for lips and they can never find them again. Speech is the last place they’ll look. The blind leading the blind. We’ll speak with our eyes when asked. I like a face with parts to spare and your face produces no wastage.
A culture of moss and eyes. All moss and your eyes fell into your mouth, orphaning the eye sockets. But you only wanted your mouth to see, so you dropped your eyes inside your mouth, right between your lips. You’re tired of hearing that your lips and your mouth can’t know the meaning of the gaze. I wanted to escape ever since I learned that eyes became less seeing than seen and that bodies become mute with blindness. Our bodies amute!
How does it feel to turn into the screen you can’t watch? It must hurt. The only body you want to look at is the only body you can’t see. So you turned the lips into your new eyelids and shaped your mouth into an eye. Your eye sockets aren’t a good replacement for your mouth, I prompt you to get rid of it. (this voice is mouthless anyway) We’re looking at an eyeless face when you keep your mouth shut and a mouthless figure staring back at us when your eyes come out through your open lips. You’ve always used your eyes for more than seeing and I was very clear about that. Eyes, and in a full body no less, are a powerful tongue. The speaker needs a powerful pair of eyes for making up its speech. Your eyes between those lips. To bite into your looks, chew and spit out something of your likeness. It might as well be a demon. I find more likeness in a demon than in your mirror self. Your mirror reflection is always darker. Haven’t you got any questions for your demons?
They make more powerful eyes now. Eyes that borrow the body of the tongue to bring them out, to carry them back, and armour for the eye in the barricade of teeth. We’ll be eating you up with our eyes soon. You’re a real visual treat. Why should we expect the eyelids to keep their shape on our faces when seeing itself is far from solid? Our eyes are liquid and I’m convinced so is seeing, watching, looking.
You come out of the mirror just as I come into it, it’s like we’re in two separate scenes. I like that our reflections can meet in this space. Putting us on the screen is the only way for me and your reflection, and you and my reflection, to be in the same room together. The four pairs of eyes together.
If you can’t get any recognition anymore, be sure that you have finally escaped the system.
© Catinca Malaimare. We Take Technology In Like A Pill, 2020.