The Art of Pathography

The artists’ creation of a ‘true self-portrait’ is bound up in meanings of self-hood and individuation; by means of his/her practice becoming a method of developing the artists’ need for self-discovery. Through this self-exploration, the artefact becomes an attempt to reveal something of the artist, a therapeutic tool perhaps, by which the photograph is used as a form of depth psychology. A mixed methodology of autoethnography and thematic analysis is undertaken of the language of response – language generated from the viewing of purely visual data – to examine and record patterns or themes within this information that is relevant to the research question. Through this form of removed analysis - the interpretation of the photograph and not the artist - can a new internal world of the artist be revealed? Is there a particular reading that could be universalised or is this unique to me? Or is the analysis a series of projections, a more of an understanding of the readers? The concerns of this thesis are with the ways in which the production of these photographs and their reception can be incorporated into an art practice and a new self-portrait is revealed.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

A Look At Symbolic Representation

To translate a dream to reality, to face and find expression for the internal conflicts, to achieve lasting reparation in reality as well as in Phantasy is the joy of aesthetic expression.
Background of Image
This image was photographed, at dawn at Brancaster Beach. It was the closest beach to where we lived and although three hours away by Morris traveller, a beach regularly visited throughout my childhood. The image of contained boxes on the beach came to me one morning.
I searched in my therapy sessions for problems in these containers, opening some of them, closing some boxes that were partially open, revisiting. However, the contents of each individual box were unaware of each other’s objects, individual boxes continued to remain out of sight of the viewer’s so as to hamper their ability to create a picture.
There are reasons why patients chose not to integrate certain objects within the session, create boundaries between subjects, often approaching each challenge as a separate issue. These defences protect from integration.
I had chosen compartmentalism as an unconscious process to defend against these very anxieties. It was an attempt to simplify things, to inhibit attempts to mix those affects that cognitively would simply create too much pain to be reconciled. It is common to experience these uncomfortable affects that come about from trying to hold conflicting ideas within sight of each other.
This incompatibility has its roots in the non-integration of our polarised selves. That our ‘all good’ and ‘all bad’ are placed into separate containers, this contradiction of behaviour can only be made bearable through denial or through a state of indifference. This division into parts and there insolubility is a survival mechanism, the self will only become one once the parts have been introduced to each other, within psychological dialogue.
The Jungian-trained psychiatrist Antony Storr believes,
"Creative people, show a wider than usual division in the mind, an accentuation of opposites. It seems probable that when creative people produce a new work they are in fact attempting to reconcile opposites in exactly the way Jung describes. [Their work] symbolise the union of opposites and the formation of this new centre of personality...”
After completion of the image and the psychoanalytical theory that it may represent, I researched the symbols within it.
Psychologically the beach evokes for us the daily experience of the slim shore between consciousness and unconsciousness lapped and buffeted, shifted and changed, temporally submerged and once again delineated in the tidal rhythms of waking and sleeping. There are ‘deposits’ from dream and fantasy, the play of the imagination, the clarity of awareness. Sometimes what the psyche tosses on to the shore can, like the jellyfish, only be experienced, but not assimilated. As the perspective and rhythms of the beach and the movement between water and land can liberate ones feelings and expand ones sense of space, time and being, so does the exchange between the depths of the psyche and consciousness.
The Book Of Symbols. The Archive For Research In Archetypal Symbolism (2010:p122) Taschen
The box is interpreted as a female symbol of the unconscious and the maternal. It always holds a secret, enclosing and keeping from the world something precious, fragile or awesome. The box protects, but at the risk of stifling. The box, at the bottom of which Hope remains, is the unconscious for all its potentialities for the unexpected, the destructive, or the positive if it is left to its own devices. Paul Diel links this symbol with a highly charged imagination which invests the unknown object hidden in the box with the power to realise ones hearts desire, a power which is totally illusionary and the source of all our woes!
The Dictionary Of Symbols (1969:p116) Penguin

Spencer Rowell 2011

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