Never not broken.

I was reading this article: Why Lying Broken in a Pile on Your Bedroom Floor is a Good Idea that talks about Akhilandeshvari – the Always Broken Goddess from Hindu mythology.

t’s the kind of broken that tears apart all the stuff that gets us stuck in toxic routines, repeating the same relationships and habits over and over, rather than diving into the scary process of trying something new and unfathomable.

Akhilanda derives her power from being broken: in flux, pulling herself apart, living in different, constant selves at the same time, from never becoming a whole that has limitations.

But look, Akhilanda says, now you get to make a choice. In pieces, in a pile on the floor, with no idea how to go forward, your expectations of the future are meaningless. Your stories about the past do not apply. You are in flux, you are changing, you are flowing in a new way, and this is an incredibly powerful opportunity to become new again: to choose how you want to put yourself back together. Confusion can be an incredible teacher—how could you ever learn if you already had it all figured out?

This goddess has another interesting attribute, which is, of course, her ride: a crocodile.

Crocodiles are interesting in two ways: Firstly, Stoneberg explains that the crocodile represents our reptilian brain, which is where we feel fear. Secondly, the predatory power of a crocodile is not located in their huge jaws, but rather that they pluck their prey from the banks of the river, take it into the water, and spin it until it is disoriented. They whirl that prey like a dervish seeking God, they use the power of spin rather than brute force to feed themselves.

By riding on this spinning, predatory, fearsome creature, Akhilanda refuses to reject her fear, nor does she let it control her. She rides on it. She gets on this animal that lives inside the river, inside the flow. She takes her fear down to the river and uses its power to navigate the waves, and spins in the never not broken water. Akhilanda shows us that this is beautiful. Stoneberg writes:

Akhilanda is also sometimes described in our lineage like a spinning, multi-faceted prism. Imagine the Hope Diamond twirling in a bright, clear light. The light pouring through the beveled cuts of the diamond would create a whirling rainbow of color. The diamond is whole and complete and BECAUSE it’s fractured, it creates more diverse beauty. Its form is a spectrum of whirling color.

That means that this feeling of confusion and brokenness that every human has felt at some time or another in our lives is a source of beauty and colour and new reflections and possibilities.

If everything remained the same, if we walked along the same path down to the river every day until there was a groove there (as we do; in Sanskrit this is called Samskara, habits or even “some scars”), this routine would become so limited, so toxic to us that, well, the crocs would catch on, and we’d get plucked from the banks, spun and eaten.

So now is the time, this time of confusion and brokenness and fear and sadness, to get up on that fear, ride it down to the river, dip into the waves, and let yourself break. Become a prism.

All the places where you’ve shattered can now reflect light and colour where there was none. Now is the time to become something new, to choose a new whole.

But remember Akhilanda’s lesson: even that new whole, that new, colourful, amazing groove that we create is an illusion. It means nothing unless we can keep on breaking apart and putting ourselves together again as many times as we need to.

We are already “never not broken.” We were never a consistent, limited whole. In our brokenness, we are unlimited.

It’s only after you’ve lost everything that you’re free to do anything. (Fight Club)

This kind of broken freedom, total destruction, rock bottom – things can’t go any further down, so they can only go up mentality really fascinates me. I’ve spent a lot of time in my life at rock bottom, a lot of time with paralyzing, crippling anxiety. Sometimes making a breakthrough to positivity is scary because you are healing, less broken, and you can fall again. You can get hurt again. Being broken has a certain kind of freedom that allows you to learn and grow.

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You are what you eat.

If everything you said/did was written/painted on your body would you watch what you say/do? – smiles515

This seems like an interesting interpretation of identity, taking the spin of “what you do and say makes you who you are. I think I might be interested in recording myself for a day and writing everything I say on myself and photographing it. That’s only one piece, though. I wonder how I could space it out or make it more involved.

Reassembled

Justin Myer Staller
Assembled Plates
printed with Akua Intaglio Ink

“Marge” Twenty plates inked (bigger)
and reassembled into the full image.

“Bridge St.” Seven plates
assembled on the press bed.

Justin Myer Staller is a printmaker living in Philadelphia. He is an adjunct professor of printmaking at Arcadia University and is a member of Space 1026. Justin completed his BA from Penn State University and his MFA from the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Information retrieved from: Akua

This is a really interesting technique to work with, particularly in a self portrait when talking about a fragmented identity. It might be interesting to do some experiments in this style with c-printing from a single negative onto multiple pieces of paper. I think I have some 8×10 left from last semester that I could work with if I shot a roll. Something to consider.

Gender Swap – Experiment with The Machine to Be Another

“interdisciplinary art collective beanotherlab asks ‘what would it be like to see through the eyes of the opposite sex?’, answered through their open source art investigation ‘the machine to be another‘. using two immersive head mounted displays — the oculus rift — the user partakes in a brain illusion, seeing a 3-dimensional video through the eyes’ of the person they face, who follows the former’s movements. designed as an interactive performance installation, the participants engage in an embodiment experience, seeing the other’s body as if it was their own. ‘the performer is someone interested in sharing a story about his/her existence. this role can be assumed by an actor interpreting a real situation, or rather it may be taken by any person who is interested in sharing some episode about his or her life.’, the team say of the project. although this example is an experiment in identity and self-realization, beanotherlab is looking towards using ‘the machine to be another’ the device in the treatment and rehabilitation of people with disabilities”

When you’re never comfortable as yourself, in your body, what would it be like to be able to see through the eyes of another person, to experience a momentary idea of living in a body different than the one you live in every day.

There’s a state of mind that some people experience where they look too long, spend too long watching something, reading something, and connect so solidly with those characters, with that face that they see that they begin to forget where that character ends and they begin. It is a divorced state of reality that some people experience very intensely. This reminds me also of that. How jarring it would be, how heartbreaking it might be to take the visor off and have to look in the mirror again at that face, at that body that you don’t identify with after being able to have seen the thing you could have been and maybe should have been. Is it better or worse afterward, knowing what you’ll never be?

Identity and the self portrait

I have to do an assignment on “identity” for printmaking. I’ve been thinking a lot about what that means to me since I started working with found photographs in my alternative photographic processes class last semester. I want to work with old photos of myself as a child, juxtaposed with new photographs of myself now, to talk about how I’ve changed as a person but am still struggling to identify with the body I live in. I’m sure I’ll have more to say after I finish doing my reading for my printmaking class and get some ideas out of that, but I wanted to talk about my ideas for what I might do for my first photo project for photo 4 this semester. 

I was thinking about using masks. I worked with masks some last semester when I was making tintypes:

I included the third one because it gives me interesting ideas about how I can incorporate the masks with reflections of myself or my face either in other masks or out of masks to talk about how the mask is a part of my identity or how it hides parts of my identity. Neither of those masks are of my original design and were for costumes. Costuming has been a huge part of my life and really is a part of my identity. I feel strangely more comfortable in costumes being someone else than I do as “myself”. I have trouble identifying with a “self” particularly as it relates to my physical body, but also as it relates to a personal identity. I always have trouble with “tell me one thing about yourself” introductions because I can’t think of anything that’s uniquely me. Maybe that’s normal, but it’s part of the problem.

I decided to look up some other art that people have done as non-standard self portraits. Some of what I found was photographic, some wasn’t.


The Dream Children’ from The Hypnagogia Series by Kalliope Amorphous

Found via this amazing post that talks about Kalliope Amorphus’ work: Kalliope Amorphous Visualizes Identity, Gender And Archetypes


Self Portrait l Identity 2 l by shaikhdanial

The left shows a traditional self portrait, but the right shows it shattered and fragmented, which really speaks to how I feel about my own self identity. This could be done in photography either by digital manipulation or possibly with the use of mirrors angled away from a camera or with the camera behind the subject (me) in some way, supported by a tripod. Ideally, the easiest way to shoot something like this might be with a 4×5 because you can angle the camera down and shift it out of the line of sight of the mirrors. I never got fantastic with tilt/shift, but it might be worth playing with again sometime.



Self Portrait by Nathaniel Wolfe

From the artist:

This mosaic portrait is composed of 3000 images from various angles from the front of my head, and then organized to recreate an image of the back of my head. The 30″ by 30″ portrait pokes fun at visual perception and identity, as we’re “a sum of all our parts.”


Identity Self Portrait 2011
by symons-photography

This talks to me about not identifying with the self, with the face, specifically, which is the center of the self for most people, and not something I identify with, on my own. It’s done via long-exposure, which is something I began experimenting with more last semester.


Camouflage Self-Portrait (RED)

Andy Warhol, synthetic polymer paint and silkscreen on canvas, 1986

Using a projector to distort parts of myself is another really interesting idea that I might try exploring. Also painting my face/body with some kind of body paint to change the way it looks. I’ve considered wearing clothing that has additional body parts attached that distort the way my body looks – not necessarily into something I identify with, but into something monsterous or disturbing or abnormal to communicate how I feel about my own body and my distorted sense of self.

This is just a start, a place to brainstorm ideas going forward.

Printmaking: Reduction cuts

Tonight, I worked on printmaking homework. My first assignment is to work on practice cuts to explore ways of using the printmaking tools. I knew right away that I wanted to do some trees, but I also made a lot of experimental lines, too. 

I looked at some example cuts and advice online. 

Here is Jodie Hurt’s fish, that I really liked:

 

I also found this nice step-by-step on how to transfer a drawing to a linoleum block because it’s been awhile since I’ve done it and I couldn’t remember if there was anything special I needed to do to make it happen.

Since I wanted to work on trees, I decided to google search “Aspen tree prints” to get an idea of how an actual tree would transfer into a print or drawing style with little shading. I found this beautiful print on etsy that I really liked:

And here’s my work as of about an hour ago, including the sketch:

Hello again.

So it’s been…a really long time since I used this blog.

I’m going to be working on research for my photography class here, as well as posting things that are inspiring to me as an artist. I don’t expect the content to change much from what has been on here in the past.