Hello wonderful people! Welcome to my blog where I post some of my musings on the intersections of art and therapy. As time goes by I'll be posting more about who I am and topics that I like to write about. To start, here's an essay that I wrote way back in when I was doing my visual arts degree. At the time of writing this, I was putting to words my perceptions of the therapeutic qualities of art and pretty much consolidating what kind of approach I would take my artwork, and later on my therapeutic style. Enjoy!
about my work
My artwork and photography are influenced by several artists, but today I will be focusing on one artist who inspired me in particular, Rinko Kawauchi. Kawauchi's aesthetic and process of finding precious and mysterious moments in the every day made a major influence on how I approach the world and my work. I am drawn to finding interesting objects and scenes that I see during my commuting and walking around the city. Through this, I became attracted to what I would see in my every day, the strange and seemingly boring objects that I would find lying about on the street or the way in which the light shines through the fog while on the train. Rinko's photographs also influenced how I saw beauty in landscapes. To me, the landscape speaks to the sublime, but on a more personal level they also become "dream"-scapes, natural scenes that possess an ephemeral beauty to be considered and contemplated and the ability to captivate and speak to the viewer. This process of creating photographs like these by heightening one’s awareness of the surrounding environment became therapeutic for me. Redirecting my focus away from my thoughts and worries and towards my present surroundings helped me cope with the overwhelming pressures and stimulation of our digital information-loaded society. By emptying the mind, we let go of the old and make room for new information to exist and be able to notice the smaller and quieter wonders of life.
The idea that I propose is that this way of making art relates to the plasticity of the mind and body and offers a space of refuge and coping by looking at the every day through a softer and quieter mode. Regarding plasticity, Catherine Malabou talks about Freud’s plasticity in The New Wounded (2012) as “a form’s ability to be deformed without dissolving and thereby to persist throughout its carious mutation, to resist modification, and to always be liable to emerge anew in its initial state”. She expands on this that trauma, it’s a plasticity with an “ability to create an identity through loss” (2012). So, while we go through the traumas of our lives, there is a tendency to regress and fall back to what we were initially, perhaps to our own childhood. However, the trauma still leaves its scars which may be difficult to deal with in the present. In a way, we could look at Kawauchi’s work and my own as a pursuit of a ‘childlike’ wonder, meaning a simpler and more innocent perspective of our surroundings, and a retreat from the trauma and anxieties of life. Rather than making art that is more conceptually challenging or theoretically dense, perhaps there is a desire or maybe an imminent return to simplicity and enjoying beauty and wonder for what it is. Why is this? To escape or to find refuge from the traumas and fatigue that we experience throughout our development and maturation either due to pressures of, let’s say, an art institution or the society we exist in.
This then leads me to Jen Lowe (2014) discussion in her article regarding the “uncontrolled monitoring of behaviour” in the digital world through data collection from credit cards to even our activities online. Through the commodification of data and ambiguous use of information to police behaviour, there is an increased anxiety and fear, as Lowe mentions in relation to a lack of freedom (2014). This trauma of fear and the unknown use of information leads to a desire to resist such control and pressure by becoming more dangerous and holding more water, meaning acts of resistance through quiet gestures. Kawauchi’s work and my own work can be considered an act of silent resistance and soft protest. Using a quiet and peaceful aesthetic, we find the beauty and wonder in the world around us despite all the anxiety, fear, and corruption of power that exists in it. This art functions as a refuge from the traumas that we experience and offers a space of cleansing and contemplation for the mind and the soul. It also functions to strengthen the psyche to withstand and cope with the traumas, stress, fear, and anxieties of the every day that our society has in store. Perhaps this quiet art-making may not have any significant impact in regards to informational freedom and agency, but it provides a way for us to make peace within ourselves and the world around us to help us better exist with each other.
Lowe, Jen. “Notes from a Talk.” Deep Lab, by Addie Wagenknecht et al., Pittsburgh: Deep Lab and the Rank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon University. 2014. Print.
Malabou, Catherine. “Freud and Pre-existing Fault Lines, Identity Without Precedent.” The New Wounded. New York: Fordham University Press. 2012. Print.
“Rinko Kawauchi contemplates the small mysteries of life.” 16 July. 2016. YouTube. Web. 30 Jan. 2020.