A tie is a strong hug: it is an erotic conduction between two people. But why is immobilizing or restricting movement erotic? To begin with, for the tied person, the effect is partly physical. Think of the pressure of the ropes on sensitive points and erogenous zones: a soft or rough friction that depends on the type of rope you use. There is a suspension, a weightless sensation of flying and lose the referents. Imagine being on a tie on a tatami or a bed, feeling handled, pushed, caressed by the ropes.
In addition, the psychological effects are extremely powerful and sometimes contradictory. You get an adrenaline rush when feeling helpless and at the mercy of the rigger. Compare this to the relaxation and confidence of knowing that you are in good hands; that you can get rid of all responsibility and shame. “I cannot resist the pleasure that provides me.” As Araki himself maintains: to bind tightly is to embrace. The strings become an extension of the fingers of the knotter.
A Tie is a Strong Hug: Communication Flows
The establishment of fluid communication between the rigger and the riggered turns a shibari session into a cross between intense dance and martial arts fighting. And it does so whether it is a performance with an audience or a private game. The aesthetic aspect also comes into play. The arrangement of the strings enhance and underline the forms of the tied person. Think of the erotic contortion of the bodies and the positions both exposed and collected, tense or relaxed. The expression on the face of the tied person is usually key in shibari photographs. In a culture like Japan, famous for its facial impenetrability, letting a deep emotion shine through creates a powerful and significant moment.
And what does the rigger do when s/he has the “victim” at his mercy? Does he spank her/him? Do you caress it? The photograph? Does he have sex with her? Let it fly? Blindfold your partner to isolate him or herself from the outside world and cook himself in his own sauce? The answers are many: all of them, part, or nothing of the above. Everything depends on the relationship between the two (as light as a tie / photographic model or as deep as a regular partner). Each type of interaction will have its own artistic and vital energy.