For those interested in Kinbaku and art, we are delighted to report that a new, deluxe, coffee table sized book by internationally famous fashion and art photographer Michel Comte has recently been published.
Its title is “Michel Comte And Milk: A Collaboration” and it was just released to celebrate the artist’s 20 year association with the famous photography studio Milk in New York and Los Angeles.
It was produced in Italy by the prestigious photography and art publishing house Damiani and is now available from various outlets here in the US, in Europe and on the web and was offered for sale at two gala photography exhibits that just concluded in New York and LA.
What might be of interest to rope lovers is that included among the over 300 pictures carefully selected to represent the best of Michel Comte’s art, including iconic fashion shots, abstracts, nudes and candid portraits of former President Clinton, actors Jeremy Irons and Sophia Loren, are a half-dozen luxurious, large size Kinbaku photographs drawn from the 2015 photo shoots for GQ Italy (Prada) and Interview Magazine (Germany) that Master “K” collaborated on with Mr. Comte.
It’s a most impressive book and Master “K” was kind enough to sit down with us to discuss the pictures, the Kinbaku techniques used in them and working with Michel Comte:
Question—Congratulations on having your rope work be a part of Michel Comte’s beautiful art photography book celebrating his 20 year association with Milk Studios in NY and LA.
Master “K”—Thank you.
Question—How did you get involved in working with this internationally famous photographer?
Master “K”—I was approached by Michel’s producer who had seen a music video that I had done the rope for. He told me that Michel was doing a fashion spread for GQ Italy and Prada in which he wanted to use Kinbaku.
Question—That seems quite daring for a fashion layout!
“K”—True. However, you have to remember that Europe is much more liberal than the United States in these matters and Michel is a very creative artist. In any case, I was very much excited by this opportunity because it fell so much in line with my interest in using Kinbaku artistically in as many different mainstream ways as possible: films, photography, music videos, etc.
Question—How did this shoot go?
“K”—Splendidly. It was an amazing experience working with Michel. He's a very intuitive artist but also quite disciplined and he asks a lot from his very gifted creative team. Obviously, a shoot for GQ called for the highest standards. And the outcome was wonderful. In fact, it is five of the pictures from the GQ shoot that are in the collaboration album with one other from a subsequent shoot we did for Interview (Germany) Magazine.
Question—For the shoot did you find yourself doing different kinds of ties or approaching the Kinbaku differently from your normal style?
“K”—Yes and no.
Question—What do you mean by “Kinbaku as a fashion element?”
“K”—Well, one of the more challenging aspects was how tall and thin our lovely models were. Proportionally, they were not only very different from Japanese models but quite a contrast to most Western models as well. As one might imagine, this was a particular issue for a shoot that had Kinbaku as a fashion element since the number of wraps and the way they were positioned on the body often became integral to the photographic design. With such lithe forms as our models had, one wrap too many could easily become unattractive and a lot of thinking went into getting each pattern exactly right. Therefore, while the tying techniques were the same, the applications were sometimes different.
“K”—Michel works very quickly and in a very sophisticated manner and he would often pose creative challenges in terms of the form of the ties we would need to use. For instance, we did one tie that I would call “Languid Kinbaku.” That was a tie where the rope tried to mirror the dreamy expression of the model.
Question—I believe I’ve seen that picture. It almost looks like post-coital Kinbaku!
“K”—(Laughing) Yes, that’s the one. I also had to do a very strict Gyaku ebi (hog tie) where the model was tightly tied for effect and we also did suspensions. What was interesting about the suspensions is that the photograph Michel selected for the layout was one taken after the suspension was over! He was interested in the expression of the model after she had just come down! As I say, he’s a very creative artist.
“K”—I’m very honored that any of my work even in so small and minor a way should be included in “Michel Comte And Milk: A Collaboration.” Magazines come and go and when they are off the newsstands the magazines and the pictures in them are often forgotten. However, to have my work be in a deluxe art book that will be a part of the permanent collections of libraries, museums and sold in galleries is truly humbling. I am forever grateful for the opportunity.
Question—What does it mean to you to have your work be a part of this beautiful book commemorating Michel’s 20 year career with Milk Studios?
Question—Were their specific techniques that you used that you could tell us about?
“K”—Every professional bakushi uses what they have learned from their teachers whenever they tie. We are always indebted to the people who have gone before and who have taught us valuable things that can be used to make a model look more attractive, make them feel good and, of course, make them safe. In this instance I used ideas and lessons from the great movie rigger Urato Hiroshi, Yukimura Haruki and, for the lovely picture of Michel’s wife Ayako that is featured at the end of the book, the centuries old water caltrop pattern I first saw Nureki Chimuo do and also a hair tie I learned from his deshi Akira Naka.
Front and back covers of the art book Michel Comte and Milk: A Collaboration, 2015 - Damiani, Italy
Some images from the book Michel Comte and Milk: A Collaboration, 2015 - Damiani/Milk, Italy
You can see and read more about Master "K" working with Michel Comte by clicking here and here.