7.01 mild strawberries

Shelly Badal


I read “Dermatological’ in a few different contexts.

In a bath, I identified the motives of each character and noticed the author framing visual symbols that would bloom throughout the read; I was particularly drawn to “fading” and the cosmic imagery that ended the piece in flaky decay. These symbols and others were placed within a spectrum of abstract to literal, which I felt served the translation and carrying over of meaning. Moving between various approaches, readings, and states of mind acted like sifting mechanisms to find which grains/meanings/sentiments wanted to pass through. For instance, a line that really stuck with me was about the body’s memory. Another grain I held onto in editing was the pace of the written story, its revealing leanings, and a main character only answering the questions they’ve asked themselves.

Throughout the process the piece was telling me what it wanted to be and it took a minute to listen. Less of my self than I expected was involved, the self was getting in the way of what the transmission asked to be. As much as I wanted shots of sinister curtains and my remix of Wu Tang’s C.R.E.A.M. to make the final cut, I met resistance and had to recognize that persistence can, at times, move similarly to stubbornness.

I checked my intentions, and wrote them out clearly. Even when I walk into a project thinking it’ll be casual, eventually a part or past of mine asks, sometimes gently, sometimes gut wrenchingly, for attending and mending. In the form of a voice memo I called a meeting between critic, heart, and whatever else was in the room. When recorded, fear showed up nearby the pillow I’d been retreating to for comfort during the few and seemingly endless weeks of recurring deadlines. I asked the fear to take a restful sit beside me, asked for their name – Pearl? – and after a bit of compassionate interviewing, found that Pearl and imagination stem from a shared force, exerting energy in occasionally diverging directions. It took thanking fear, for me to redirect that energy. Doubt, or Deborah, chimed in directly after to stall us some more. She needed a salute too, the humorous coo ~ how about we let this thing take its own shape. “Energy waits for you to release it before revealing something new," said the open page of my notebook.

Around this time, a new force came into the room, which I believe to be the eminent and full extent of tele-’s invisible transmission process. The piece just became shorter and shorter until I was shocked to ask the computer screen, (out loud), “the ending? u [the green beings on screen] you to be the whole thing?” And I gave in, because the narrator in “Dermatological” did too, and so much of the piece is about what the narrator refrains from saying outside of their inner realm. I trusted that all the musings and methods that led to this ending carried over the short story’s enduring chasm between lasting and fading.
—Shelly Badal

scan of Shelly Badal's process notebook


Shelly Badal works within a sensory practice to cultivate relatedness and presence via performance, sound, language, visual art, and community organizing. Her recent A/V works blend abstraction with vérité footage using analog and digital processes.