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"in the middle of this nowhere"/Losing Touch - Sense of Self and Constructed Identities
Master of Fine Arts
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in the middle of this nowhere explores presence and absence in real and virtual spaces. It engages with tensions present in and between communication, self-hood and control. The project originates in my own recollections of the intensity of childhood sensory perception and the diminishment of that intensity as a result of the augmentation of those perceptions with photography, screens and virtual spaces. The promise and lure of these technologies of the self, attract more and more of our attention, time, and connection, to the detriment paradoxically of physical human interaction and material states such as sleep and self-care. This project raises questions about how we currently experience the world, in response to my own fears of a diminishing sense of myself in my world and of ourselves in both the material and social worlds. Are we losing the ability to distinguish our real selves from our virtual constructed identities and is it less relevant now to discern the difference between physical experience and spectacles mediated by screens?
I work across various mediums including traditional and contemporary photographic processes to explore ideas of impermanence, control, selfhood, communication, and the act of portraiture. Human-touch, traces we leave and the anxiety of the disembodied space materialize as recurring themes throughout my work. This inquiry originates from my own recollections of the intensity of childhood sensory perception. Seeing how such sensory interactions have evolved with photography, screens and virtual spaces, that call for more and more of our attention, time, and connection, to the detriment of sleep and physical human interaction. My work requires me to slow down, stop still, and contemplate, while making tangible artifacts by hand. Each body of work concerns how we currently experience the world, and which is more real to us, physical experience or the observed spectacles mediated by a screen. I raise questions in response to my own fears of a diminishing sense of ourselves in the real world, where we are perhaps losing the ability to distinguish our human self-hood from our constructed identities, and whether we even care what is at stake. Through a female lens my research and studio practice take shape, utilizing mediums including photography, printmaking, oil painting, fabric, the act of stitching, and installation. The current work emerges after 28 years as a photographer in the fashion industry, making images of women and girls specifically for women and girls. The work precedes and spans the arrival of the internet, the decimation of the magazine industry, and the increased agency we now have over our recorded histories. Perhaps our constructed identity or self-made history trail is the only thing we have any semblance of control over today.
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