Today we had our critique for our final projects. We went through everyone’s work and discussed our reactions to it. I’d say that the general reaction to what i’ve been doing was good- I mean, people said they were uncomfortable which is kind of my goal, so i’ll definitely take it.
I submitted a lot more than I had expected for my final project. To be very frank with you, I did almost all of this project the day before critique. I promise, I had not planned to procrastinate (for once) for this project, but due to many unexpected events that’s just how it went. The video I made was a last minute addition to this project- I had come up with a vague concept for a video earlier in the semester, but I hadn’t planned on creating it. But when I saw the footage, that had actually been shot for another voyeurism project I had been working on, I just knew I couldn’t not make the video at that point.
Throughout the process of creating this project I’ve had trouble explaining what it is I’m trying to say in just words. I’ve had way too many cases of just saying “voyeurism” and then having to backtrack when they immediately googled it and assumed I was making art about a very specific kink.
I’ve also had a hard time explaining (especially to men) that digital and photography are the mediums that I work with. Some have asked if I was going to ever use a “real” medium for this project or that i’d find a “real” medium someday. This idea of digital and photography not being real is very comical to me. The success of the images that I have made are dependent on the subversion of what the viewer’s brain thinks they see. I cannot achieve the surrealist realism that I need in a different medium. At some point I had to accept that some people (men) just won’t get it, and that’s a bitter pill to swallow, considering they’re the target of my message.
And as long as I’m being honest, why stop here. The watch it subseries is a direct response to an encounter with a man that left a bad taste in my mouth, so much so that I felt the need to respond to it visually because words could not express how I really felt.
Without going into too much detail, a man told me part of my identity wasn’t valid, because he felt that I hadn’t experienced what it really meant. And for a lack of any other good way to say how I felt- I was pissed. The fact that he felt he was allowed to explain to me to, well, me, was infuriating. I tried to express my displeasure- subtly with the hope that he would realize his mistake- with an eyeroll. But he could not see what I was trying to say. So here is a series that is literally me saying something without saying it at all. The lack of pupil and iris expresses some notion of the eye roll, but the presence of something in its place questions that. With only the eyes it’s hard to understand what I’m trying to say, or the tone that I’m saying it with. Do I mean “okay” or is it sarcasm ? Even I’m not sure. (To capstone that anecdote, I am no longer speaking to that man) All of this culminates in the gif (below) that flashes through the hand signals.
Here the message is so much more convoluted, but so clear. In the words of my classmate “The way many men look at women and think about women is creepy as hell and just messed up. It shouldn’t be the norm. It should be unsettling. The cycle of different hand/finger symbols really convey the ridiculous standards that are imposed on women or anyone who is not a hetersexual male” (Shoutout to Mahnoor Khan for getting what I was aiming for) The literal mixed signals is a response to the lack of effort in regards to understanding what someone means. To look, but not to see.
In retrospection, I can see where the other pieces I had created earlier in the semester lead to this point. (Not that this is the culmination of the entire series, but just the culmination of my efforts in this class so far)
While these pieces convey my personal reaction to the feeling of being projected upon it doesn’t take into consideration the viewer. The success of what I’m saying relies upon the viewer not just understanding the discomfort of the gaze, but feeling it themselves. I see these earlier images as stepping stones into the bigger picture- I have to express my personal discomfort and emotions before I can persuade the viewer to see through me eyes.
This is definitely a project that I will continue to work on beyond this ART 144 course. This is just the beginning of the (eye)con.