Proxyerotics: Notes on Touch

It’s just (aah) a little crush (crush) 
Not like I faint every time we touch 

In the Euro 2020 post-match interview in the flush of victory, exhausted and euphoric, the footballing men are living adverts for skin and eyes. This wonky spectrum of handsome has paraded onto the screen in my living room where I live. And now another sweaty head considers the query of the unseen interviewer, ‘How did you feel after that second-half goal?’, when the only real question is, ‘What have you done to me?’ 

Aesthetically speaking, the disappointment of the tournament has been with the sad number of sporting men sporting indistinct ink. So many arms, abstract with tattoos too intricate, too blurry, too nothing that the camera, even shooting at extremely high frame rates, can detect as a shape. Did you not consider something a little more graphic? Did you ask for a sleeve of non-specific? 


I have made out on a few but I have never fucked on a bench. 

A bench is like smoking, and writing. It is just an excuse for thinking. 

I can’t remember sleeping the night outdoors on a bench and I wonder now if it will happen in my lifetime. With the various scenarios that the Earth will die by—the big rip, heat death, vacuum decay—I wonder if we will all be sleeping on benches in the run-up. 

The story of a woman whose acute social anxiety catches up with her in the supermarket is too obvious. Supermarkets, like swimming pools, have already been over-rinsed as scenery for psychological shading. 

So, when panic struck, in an act of reverse mindfulness, she gasped, grabbed the chicken thighs and the throwaway barbecue, and self-checked-out, contactless, only exhaling on the pavement outside. Floating through the park gates, she was soon seated, head between her legs, heaving in great fists full of air, the shopping resting on the bench by her side. 


Per capita Glasgow has more tattoo parlours than anywhere else in Europe. One for every thirty-six children in the city. One for every rainless day of the last decade.  

But only one is dedicated to Contemporary Art. Jim Cullen runs The Institute of Ink, and prides himself on tattooing photorealist recreations of work from each year’s Turner Prize winner since 1996. His favourite artist is Mark Leckey. He hates relational aesthetics. Recently he has been struggling to translate the socially engaged practice of collectives into something that will look good on a forearm. 

In 2020, locked out of studios, many artists necessarily shifted medium. Sculptors took up crochet, silversmiths became video artists, and everyone became an Art Writer. For Jim, this dematerialisation of practice has mixed blessings. He misses the scale of symbols—if tattoos were not his calling, he would have enjoyed being a Land Artist—but he enjoys the typographical possibilities of an art writing aphorism, and he’s getting more and more meme requests. 

The park bench is the open sandwich of street furniture. 


Glasgow, Rotterdam, New York, London  

You moved to a new city in a pandemic and met all your friends top-half first. 

What does this have to do with touch? 

These photos are the most tactile you’ve taken since you arrived. Taken before you saw their legs. 

You want a new tattoo. To mark the shift from one state of being to another. And to be a prompt on your skin—to recall a secret knowledge that it mainly serves you to forget, but at key moments it will be essential for you to remember. 

You should probably get a tattoo of a triangle.