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April 9, 2009

Self Representation of the Artist and the Writer

My exploration of self-representation took a quite literal turn as I chose to work directly and indirectly off the photo of myself at a typewriter. While I originally added myself into the composition with a pencil and pen sketch, I finished the piece with a half-tone screen print from the same photograph. While I initially wanted to continue the pen and pencil sketch, I am pleased with the quality and boldness of the screenprint (though it was not without its struggles in execution, as James and Emily could tell you). While the actual image of myself on the typewriter is clearly a focal point (I had wanted to place the image a little bit more to the right, and not as centered), I wanted to play with the idea of my own identity as a writer with this piece.

As I mentioned in a previous class, being a writer is something that I connect strongly to in my self-identity: it is how I have worked as a professional and as a student, it is how I keep track of my day, it is how I leave a trail of my experiences and it is also my therapy. Communication in general is a very central aspect of my life, perhaps more than others (though every person needs it!), as it is what I am currently studying in my masters program. That being said, I wanted to play with the idea of myself as a writer in all its forms, but specifically on a more personal level, rather than a professional or scholarly level.

To do that, I incorporated various notes, handwritten with pen and typed on the same typewriter in the photo. Many may not make sense to the viewer: particularly the typed notes are often excerpts from journal entries and random quotes. The layering of the notes also prevents the viewer from being able to read each piece in its entirety. In the layering of the notes and the fragmented messages, I wanted to represent first, different layers of utilizing writing as a form of self-expression and identity, and second, the idea that as a writer, you struggle with how you are represented—there is only so much of yourself that you can bring into a piece, and there is no way of controlling how the viewer/reader is responding and reacting to your work (although some try).

Though there are a couple journal entries I referenced from the past year, the majority of the collaged pieces were done over the same time period during which I was working on this piece, furthering the idea that this piece, like written work, is a capsule into a specific time in my life.

Overall, I am pleased with how the piece turned out. I think that the inclusion of acrylic and ink for color add to the piece and make it more visually interesting, though I do feel as though the aesthetic looks a little like I was trying to make a clothing ad for young people five years ago. I do like, however, how the colors blend into each other—I think this adds to the concept of different layers and aspects of oneself coming together.


Representation of Self and Identity

In looking into ways of representing self, my final project became a self portrait with both screen printed and collage images as a way or representing self and pieces of identity. The final piece is 30 x 22 in on watercolor paper. Although I didn’t paint on the surface of the paper, I was interested in the visual quality of the texture and to see how it would work with screen printing ink.

I chose to explore the development of identity. This is a subject that we do a lot of work and training around in my job with diversity programs at the U. I’m curious about what factors influence people in developing their identity, particularly outside of their family and people around them. I chose to use myself and to think about the things that have influenced me, mostly external factors of my immediate life. In my initial planning, I began thinking what factors would have caused others to develop differently than myself, and then even more so, what factors would have influenced myself and two siblings to have developed completely different identities even though we grew up in the same family.

In the end, I have only represented myself, as I had no way of knowing what could have affected my siblings without asking them. I found that even representing my own identity was a challenge. What I found as I collected images and started putting them together was that I had both perceived and real identity represented, as well as images that represented things I no longer affiliated with my identity but I know had a large impact in the way I developed, for example, Christian religion. I chose to use magazine collage as the medium for representing my identity. I chose it particularly because I love the visual quality, the gloss and the color. I limited myself only to magazines for the most part to challenge myself to find ways to represent pieces that I may not have an exact image for, and because I wanted the surface to be consistent.

Finally, I decided to organize the pieces into a figure, as a way of tying it back/relating it, to the screen printed figure of me cutting and placing pieces on the body. I also chose to offset a magenta ink on the figure of myself to echo the magenta in the head of the collaged figure. To create the figure, I used a picture of Anne Hathaway to line up the pieces in an attempt to make it a bit more proportional, although this does project the image of my body as one displayed by the media, which I guess is fair.

I’m hoping that these two figures connect to the viewer as being one in the same, but I’m really not sure if it completely does. I also added small colored circles around the figures as a way of trying to tie them together as well as to try to create a sense of energy and movement. It’s also hard to say how the images will relate to the viewer and how they will choose to interpret them.


April 8, 2009

Representation of the Self


My final work is a 4.5*6 inch (a postcard size), double sided colored card. The above images are the two sides of the card respectively. This totally consists of 15 photos of myself. The whole process was conducted on computer by Adobe Photoshop.

The big image on the left is based on a photo taken on a long open escalator (at universal studio, LA). In this photo, I was taking picture of the guy who was taking at me simultaneously. This eventually tended to be a really cool angle of the view, since for any viewer who was looking at the picture, I was taking picture of him/her. Consequently, the sentence “Smile ^_^ you’re on my picture!” became a best interpretation of this image, as well as to get a strongest and most dramatic interaction between viewers and the card. As for the technical part, I applied desaturation, distortion, and blurring to the surroundings to make a distorted and extended visual impact of the image, leaving only focus on my upper part of body. Also, the round shaped beams of the open escalator looks kinda like a time tunnel; people are taking the time tunnel escalator through the time and space, from the past to the future.

You might think this interpretation kind of crazy… However, I am just eager to convey an idea by this image to the viewers, which is: get ready for being taken at each moment! This is also the reason I added that sentence on. Life is short, and every moment in our life is precious and memorable.

The image on the right (will be on the back side of the card) contains 14 pictures of myself. Each one was carefully selected to present a different expression, motion, figure, angle, and visual effect. The top-left one was taken at front door of universal studio, LA. We were making a bunch of cool poses in front of the famous universal ball, and this one made an interesting visual illusion that I was embracing the ball. The top-right one was taken by one of my best friends last summer, at Niagara fall. We were taking a boat down into the fall. When I was busy taking picture of the fall, she took this snap shot of me. The bottom-left was taken inside Montreal Notre-Dame Basilica. The magic colorful light on floor was the reflection of the window paintings. When I saw the light, I couldn’t help to keep it into my camera as well as my feet – as a witness of me with the beautiful light. …

Each picture tells a story, treasurable and memorable. There is the true me in each picture, either from others’ eye or from myself. In this work, I am presenting the colorful “myself” as well as celebrating the memory of those meaningful moments. And, what’s more important for you, the viewer, is I AM TAKING PICTURE OF YOU~ So, let’s get ready every moment for it!


A body in motion...

My self-portrait is an exploration of the body in space. In this way it seems to be less about me as a person (unless you consider my past years as a dancer and athlete), and more about the visual exploration of the body as tool of creation. I enjoyed playing with the background (as a kind of dramatic backdrop), lighting (cloudy vs sunny), colors and patterns of clothing, and the shapes different types of clothing made as it moved or was captured in the moment of movement.

The series of poses I chose are patched together into one long image that moves along a horizontal background. It has a beginning and end, much like a story. The poses themselves do not tell a chronological story (though they could potentially be creatively interpreted as one by the reader/viewer), but the figures express a lightness and feeling of freedom.

I chose to represent my portrait as a very small fold-out book. I liked the idea of the viewer looking at the figure moving through the landscape either one page at a time (to focus attention on the form the figure takes in that frame) or as a whole (in which the series of figures implies a timeline or series of dance steps or story). It just occurred to me that this is reminiscent of the different scales at which landscape architects work: anywhere from small scale to regional scale. I enjoy this freedom and challenge.

I am not fully satisfied with the quality of the final product; since I did not have access to a high quality camera (which meant I was not able to control the shutter speed), the quality of the images was not as controlled. The photos taken on cloudy days had poor color quality but showed excellent blurriness. The photos taken on sunny days were brighter but caught the figure in mid-air. These phenomena could be explored further with more time, thus I am viewing this project as a jumping-off point (no pun intended) for a more in-depth project later on when I have the time and resources needed to create the quality I am looking for in these images.

My hope is that the self-portrait shows my own enjoyment of movement and my interest in the body’s interaction with or through space.


April 6, 2009

A Self Portrait

My solution for this project was to develop an interactive self-portrait. The materials used in this composition consist of four PNG files that are dynamically loaded into an Adobe® Flash file, which is called by an HTML file. The PNG files are each images I have chosen to represent various aspects of my sense of self: (from top-left, clockwise) son, brother, husband, and father.

Viewers of the composition mouse over the collaged grid of images to reveal a larger part of each image. To view the entire source image, viewers must click on a particular image. An additional click restores the image to its original place in the collage. This iteration of the composition is still a prototype, and does not yet include these instructions for the viewer.

The first three images provide evidence of being deliberate attempts at portraiture. The fourth image, me as a father, is a snap shot of my daughter, Lily, and me. The fact that this is a snap shot is due in large part to her strong preference for freedom of action.

Although my becoming a brother and a son occurred simultaneously, I have chosen to represent my early years with a portrait with my older brother and younger sister. This decision was mostly pragmatic, because if I wanted to feature all three siblings, my choice of time period was limited to the few months my sister was alive. In turn, I chose to represent my role as a son with my high school senior photo. I thought this was appropriate based on how it fit chronologically with my passage into adulthood. The third photo is of my wife, Laurel, and me on our wedding day. Undeniably, this was another moment of passage. Finally, I chose a recent image of Lily and me to represent my current role as father. This was the most difficult selection, as Lily is our second daughter. My wife and I lost our first daughter, Julia, to complications surrounding her cancer treatment almost three years ago.

On a cosmic level, I believe the chronological aspect of these images portray the very impersonal process of aging. In that way, a dominant theme of the composition could be interpreted as impermanence. On cultural level, the images also represent several key archetypal roles. In that way, they can be said to show one man's passage from childhood to adulthood. Finally, on a personal level, the images show four moments of my life, some I remember like they were yesterday, some I don't remember at all. In that way, they function as one more weak thread in the vast historical quilt, a garment never made up of the things themselves, but only incomplete whispers and shadows of things that once were.