Keirartworks's Blog

hmmm. hmmm? Observations, actions and connection points through art.


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#Selfie 6: Mask

April 15, after sleepless night because of lunar eclipse 3:42-ish am.  And it snowed...

April 15, after sleepless night because of lunar eclipse 3:42-ish am. And it snowed…

I’ve begun to think of my face as a mask, in all this clicking, writing, posting and painting of it.   It’s a mask that I make and change according to what parts of myself I wish to present.  Actually, that’s not even completely honest – sometimes I use parts of other people in my own face, to top off the presentation.  This is stealing, but also a form of flattery…

Half-face (my left side, which is your right)

Half-face (my left side, which is your right)

 

I chose parts for my mask based on what kind of response I’d like to receive, and from whom.  My dad once asked me why I wear makeup (I was 17 I think).  I said:  “Oh, habit”.  But really it was a mask.

My right, your left.

My right, your left.

I’ve been receiving lots and lots of feedback from people reading this Selfie Post blog.  Many many takes on Selfie, on social media, on self-awareness, sharing energies, non-verbal communication, and also several from men (or women?  not clear) who would like to get to know me better, maybe we could get a drink sometime, can I have your phone number.  All of it is fascinating, some of it VERY articulate and informative, and the latter…  well.

Interesting to me that in the five years I’ve been writing this blog, nobody’s responded until now by asking me out for a drink while referencing the size of their sex organ.  Selfie power indeed, James Franco.

Good reference photo for painting.  Also part of the mask?

Good reference photo for painting. Also part of the mask?

Is there an implied intimacy in these photographs I’ve taken & posted of my face?  There must be.  I am the person behind the mask after all, taking pictures of the mask. I gaze with trust back at myself.

I’ve come to think we are all of us starved for intimacy, on some level.  Intimacy requires vulnerability, which when shared requires trust – of both self and other.  In this fear-based world of ‘what if?’ insurance payments, trust is … all too rare.


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#Selfie post 2

This show project has turned into a kind of Selfie Pilgrimage for me.  I must say, my initial resistance has been a challenge to overcome – I DO so resist, especially when reading articles like this one by James Franco (The Meanings of the Selfie, New York Times, December 2013)  who rationalizes his recently acquired selfie habit thus,

a well-stocked collection of selfies seems to get attention.  …hell, it’s what everyone wants: attention. Attention is power.

Maybe for James Franco it’s power, but I truly don’t think that’s at the core of our collective behaviour.

I do not own a cell phone, so use a Rebel.  Sure enough, even when I'm the one taking the picture of me I close my eyes to make myself invisible.  Not squirming, I think.

I do not own a cell phone, so use a Rebel. Sure enough, even when I’m the one taking the picture of me I close my eyes to make myself invisible. Not squirming, I think.

So I dig and write and paint, and read.  This morning I woke to a kind of epiphany about what could be at the root of Selfie on social media.  Here’s a journal excerpt, which will likely end up in the show booklet in some form,

Selfies have steadily been on the increase since the first use of the term (Australia) in 2002 & became universal in 2012.  Oxford English Dictionary made the term it’s “word of the year” in 2013.  Could this be a barometer for the increasing divide between people because of a kind of culturally cultivated distrust of intimacy?  We are also experiencing the increasing dissolution of traditional forms of relationship and partnership – both personally and with the institutions we once trusted (govt, banks, corporations), which may have created a vaccuum at the personal level.  Maybe these cultural shifts have also changed the questions we’re asking ourselves on a personal level…

The question ‘who am I’, has traditionally been answered in the past by describing how you are related to something or someone, “Peter’s wife; Katie’s Mother; Richard’s Teacher; Jim’s Daughter; Sarah’s Boss; Paul’s Friend”, or even by what you do professionally, which is a different form of relationship “A cellist; an artist; a bus driver; an author; a councillor; a conductor, a mechanic; a carpenter”.

It’s a different question in social media circles.

“I got ‘Unicorn’!, which mythical  creature are you?”

Round one.  Always an indication of how the fight will go.  I need to make it to twenty....

Round one. Always an indication of how the fight will go. I need to make it to twenty….

This answers a question for me about why I’m painting my own hands in interaction.  I think #Selfie behavior could be an examination of our relationship with ourselves.

Each time a selfie is posted it tells a truth, shows a piece of soul, offers a clue, and a question:  “who am I?”  or with chronic selfie posters, “who am I, now?” But what does that question actually mean?  How can we Be separate and distinct from our interactions  – with partners, kids, colleagues, parents, friends, job?

So, for me, my hands.  They are my job, my form of expression, an amplification of my speech, a means of articulation.  They represent two sides of my engagement with the world and my work – my dominant right hand is skilled, trained in the finely tuned crafts of drawing and using a cello bow.  I can write with it – it knows letters and words.  It’s often TOO skilled, too trained for a task I want to complete – a drawing that is direct and raw; the ability to touch an object and feel it’s shape and texture without interference from what is ‘known’.  My left hand is more honest, therefore, and I rely upon it to take me places that can change my mind and my perspective.

Together they are erotic, aggressive, tender, bewildered, compassionate, protected, open or closed to experience.  I see them and work with them much much more than I see and work with my face.  Here’s what Larry Jensen wrote in response to the first hand selfie I posted.  I so love this, L:

blurred names & avatars for privacy reasons...

blurred names & avatars for privacy reasons…

And so the 12-week journey begins, with James Franco, the Oxford English, a Unicorn, Larry Jensen, and some squirming.

yep, squirming.  eyes open means you can see me.  Here we go....

Yep, squirming. eyes open means you can see me. Here we go….