The Body Instead is about exploring the subjectivity and objectivity of the body and the self, using mold-making and casting techniques and materials.
This project questions how the mind perceives the body and the self are explored, along with views about transcendence and immanence in relation to conscious thought and the existence of the self. In this project, a variety of mold-making and casting materials, such as plaster, alginate, silicon and food, are used to recreate and represent the human figure. The resulting cast, as a representation of the body’s impermanence, will be destroyed and subsequently preserved or consumed as food. Ultimately, the goal is to make the body both the source and the object of the aesthetic experience, by combining the experiences of the physical body with the perceptions of the conscious mind.
My thesis is an exploration in materials, using the body and the self as subjects, excluding our notions about body image and personal appearance. I am recontextualizing the image of myself using different materials to represent my body and I am exploring the relationship between the external (camera) “eye” or lens, the eye of the mind, and the I of the self. I will be exploring my self-image and my conscious and unconscious reactions to experiencing myself as an external physical object and as a concept.
I live in a good neighborhood for going out, or finding many, many adults under 40 hanging out in bars. Last night I was walking home and passed by a cab that had picked up 4 people. A girl was talking, but seemed little uncomfortable with not being hidden in the back. The cab driver definitely seemed like he’d prefer her sitting in back. Another cab was behind that one, and it had 1 or 2 people in it, one passenger talking on the phone. I wanted to know what the person in the next cab might have been doing, but it was empty. So I got the idea to make a video of people in taxicabs, as some kind of an ‘idiot with a tripod’ video featuring people in taxicabs.
I think the subject is interesting because people in cabs have a personal-public existence. I think cab passengers feel sort of self-important. Compared to the subway, bus or walking, it’s not cheap to ride in cabs. And, when you’re in a car there’s some kind of boundary between you and everyone else; it feels so good to get out of it and have some fake privacy. This self-important privacy is fake because taxicab passengers are not car owners, who have the pride of owning a car to help them feel important and so their privacy is really their own. For taxicab passengers, there’s a driver so they’re never alone and they just stepped off the sidewalk where I’m still standing. Plus, they’re in a car painted to indicate that they’re in a car that’s not their own. So, I like the idea of peeking into their false privacy.
To do the project, I will set up at a couple of intersections in NY, and focus the camera on people in cabs while they wait for the light. I’ll try to get a couple of intersections, maybe 5 major ones. And get some video of people at different times of the day, starting with early morning (if possible), mid-day, to night. Possible intersections might include: Columbus Circle, 14th Street and University, 1st Street and 1st Ave, 6th Ave and ???. Or, maybe I’ll just take video of intersections on the F-line so it’s easier for me to get home. I’m not sure how I’ll present the videos right now, but I was considering some kind of structure/installation.
For Spring Break 2011, a friend and I had the great idea to visit Japan. Neither of us had been there and, remarkably, tickets were very cheap. (Well, as cheap as visiting popular destinations in Europe – less than $1000.) So, with only about 4 weeks until departure, we booked our flight and rail passes, and prepared to depart.
Our flight to Japan was scheduled for March 12, 2011. Unfortunately, this was the day after a massive earthquake hit Japan and the eastern coast of the country was hit by an equally massive tsunami. (Not sure there’s such a thing as a tsunami that isn’t massive.) We ended up canceling our trip.
The following week, I found myself with a week of time I hadn’t accounted for. One day, while going surfing the Internet, I finally let myself feel a bit down about not going on the trip. For some reason, I decided to have some fun with photoshop – I found pictures of quintessential Japanese traditions, and inserted myself into them as if I’d actually gone on the trip. It made for some hilarious photos.
I had this idea to get a group of students, take a video of their faces, and then use AfterEffects to make their face do things they couldn’t actually do in real life. I did one other student, but ended up doing the most work on my own face because it was very time consuming and I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue with the project.
I ended up making about 3 versions of this video. Every time I tried tweaking, things started to look more fake – like you could really tell where the editing was happening. I ended up sticking with version 1, but I need to go back and add a border so that the camera moving left and right isn’t so noticeable.