Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Body Project #2: Final Product/Final Thoughts

Overall, I think the final product was very well done; everyone did an incredible job on their individual pieces. Once again, I think the only problems were on the collective level as far as creating the internal structure, and accomplishing set up/display in the atrium. Just like with the first project, suspension was just a shady idea to me. I think that the figure would have been more supported if we would have been able to build some kind of stand or structure for it to rest on. I feel like both of these projects required too much collaboration, to the point of sheer frustration.. it was like asking seventeen people to complete a math problem; communication was poor and therefore too much time was wasted on construction and mechanics rather than on creation of the pieces. Personally, I would have enjoyed working on some smaller scale projects that required more in-depth exploration and creativity. I also would have liked to open a dialogue about body image, rather than just talking about the etymology of the word body and the anatomy and function of body parts.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Ears, Nose and Lips Materials, Prep, and Process

So I decided that because my pieces were relatively small in comparison to some others, that it would be best to use materials that would allow me to get as much detail as possible for the closest anatomical configuration. Rather than focusing on function, I decided to try and make my ears, nose and lips resemble the real thing as closely as possible, while also incorporating my personal (apple) story into the lips, and the Pinnochio story into the construction of the (what ended up looking God-awful, but in a good way) nose. Styrofoam/floral foam was really my only option. The downside to this choice was that it was expensive- not just the foam itself, but also the tools required to try and shape it. I had to be very careful not to screw it up because it would force me to buy more, which wasn't going to happen! I ended up spending $50 on the stuff, so my process had to be exact and I basically had to just deal with whatever happened because I wasn't about to spend any more money!

In order to make the lips and ears, I had to get a little creative because the only foam available was flat, rectangular and thin.. so I cut out a few layers into the shapes I needed and glued them together in order to achieve the proper thickness. It took about a day or so for the glue to dry, and afterward I was able to sculpt and shave them into the proper shapes (or close enough!) The tool was bulky and annoying to use, plus the styrofoam really stunk when it was being cut, but other than that it wasn't too difficult getting the shapes cut. The shaving and sculpting was a little bit trickier, and overall it took about 8 hours to get close to what I really wanted. The nose was somewhat easier, since I had the basic cone shape already, and just had to manipulate it. However, the cutting and gluing of the nose was much harder, and required some imagination because the pieces weren't flat. I ended up using toothpicks to keep it from falling apart because the glue just wasn't sticking. After that, I just had to spray them with the air gun and some acrylic paints. The only difficulty there was finding a decent skin-tone color, but it ended up looking a bit on the orange side. It was fun using different colors to shade the ears, I think they turned out really well
(which I wasn't expecting!)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

New Project: Ears, Nose, Lips

The nose serves multiple functions, such as breathing and distinguishing scents. The nose also contributes to our sense of taste. It is composed of both external and internal parts; there is the organ that protrudes from the center of the face, which is composed of cartilage and the nasal cavity which expands back into the head and connects with the throat. The nose contains tiny hairs called cilia hairs, which act as filters to catch airborne particles that can enter our respiratory system and make us sick; cilia is considered the first line of defense, before it is left up to our immune systems to battle. On average, men’s noses are bigger than women’s, and one of the most common medical conditions associate with this organ are nosebleeds. The nose is also an organ that is particularly susceptible to frostbite. In researching the function of this organ, I was somewhat surprised to discover that several searches generated plastic surgery web pages... apparently there are a lot of people out there who are dissatisfied with the way their noses are shaped, which is mainly determined by the ethmoid bone and the nasal septum. The number of rhinoplasty procedures performed in the US each year ranges somewhere from 250-400,000!
The ears are sense organs which allow us to hear. The ear can be divided into three main parts: inner, middle and outer. The middle and outer ear transmit sounds to the inner ear, which contains fluid and sound receptors. Sound creates motion in the fluid, which then gets converted by the receptors into electrical impulses which are sent to the brain to allow the perception of sound. The inner ear is also responsible for our sense of “equilibrium,”which gives us our balance and coordination.

Human lips are located at the bottom of the face, at the opening of the mouth. Our lips serve several functions, with food intake being one of the most obvious and important. The lips also contain several nerve endings, and are therefore a tactile organ that is very sensitive to hot, cold and touch. Lips are also very important for articulation, and therefore contribute largely to our ability to speak, and also allow us to play certain wind instruments. Nerve endings in the lips make them an erogenous zone on the body (critical for acts of intimacy, such as kissing), and interestingly enough, lip size has been correlated with sexual attraction in both men and women, as healthy plump lips indicate fertility (this could be why women are so concerned with having "juicy" lips!). Our lips also allow us to indicate our feelings through facial expression, by enabling us to smile and frown.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Final Thoughts: Personal and Collective

Personally, I think that having a good partner was essential to this project even though I was able to enlist some help from my husband at home. It was hard initially to submit control over my project to someone else, but Selena was very attentive to creating my figure exactly how I wanted it to be posed. We learned a lot along the way, and tried to avoid past mistakes on the second figure (ie: use better tape!). In the long run, however, we both ended up having major collapse issues that were frustrating and very difficult to fix. I unfortunately would have to say that our body structures were least successful due to how they were stored.  

I think that overall, the project was a success. Once we actually got our figures displayed they all looked amazing! I don't think that anyone who passed by the display could avoid being intrigued by it... However, it was very frustrating trying to get them all positioned and suspended the GWP atrium. The most difficult challenge we faced was the hanging/display system, which was probably too complicated to begin with. Although the puppeteer crosses allowed us to pronounce our body phrases more clearly, perhaps we should have avoided hanging our figures from such an intricate suspension system. I personally would have opted to find a way to get the figures to remain on the ground by creating plastic wrap molds of stands or structures that would have helped keep them erect.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Body Reflections

My gesture reflects the most obvious picture I could imagine of an OBE that didn’t actually involve a second body or figure. When I first thought of what an out of body experience was, I instantly jumped to psychedelic drugs, but as my project evolved I began to think of my gesture as more of a representation of an OBE resulting from a near-death experience. Typically when this type of phenomenon occurs, people claim that they experienced looking at themselves from an outsider’s vantage point. The only way I could think to depict this idea was by creating a gesture that would show a body coming out of a body. The only conceivable way to accomplish this with the materials we had to work with was to manipulate the plastic wrap to convey a message of an out of body experience. . The plastic wrap coming out of the figure’s neck represents the “spirit” or “soul” of the body escaping from within it. 

The final product!

I have been trying to view both my phrase and my figure through my own personal perceptions of body image and art. I believe that this project forced me to see my body in a different way, through the act of creating a body mold.. When I first saw my mold I was somewhat shocked and disappointed, because its shape did not reflect how I see myself (as thinner around the mid-section, and definitely having more ass). I even found myself looking at other bodies and thinking “hers looks better than mine”. Facing this reality, (although my figure was somewhat of a distorted replica that was constantly collapsing due to cheap tape) challenged me to think about why I felt thinner than I really was, and why my image of myself was also somewhat distorted.

Lately I have been somewhat consumed with trying to get my “pre-baby body” back, which has meant strength training and cardio 5-7 days a week. Even though I am tired and have a million other things on my plate, I have always kept fitness and nutrition a top priority in my life; pushing my body to its physical capacity is a challenge I will continue to enjoy meeting because I want to live a long, healthy life- for myself, my husband and even more-so for my little girl. While this project has allowed me to explore what my real motivations are (like to not feel like the “fat domesticated wife-mother”), it has also reaffirmed why I feel it is so important to be fit.. not because my body mold isn’t the shape I think it should be, or what others think and tell me it should be, but because my body is all I have- I only get one and I need to take care of it. The gesture of my figure itself reflects me because it IS me- all of my flaws included.. hopefully I won’t be headless anytime soon though.

Monday, April 18, 2011

My Puppeteer..

So... last Thursday we voted to have our bodies suspended from the GWP atrium by cross-like fixtures that we could "manipulate" to better convey our body words and phrases (no clearly defined boundaries concerning materials)...

Originally when I was contemplating what it means to have an out of body experience, and who it supposedly happens to, I instantly thought of people who take psychedelic drugs. Designing a cross to better express my phrase would therefore ultimately include some kind of text or visual stimuli that represented the drugs that would enable someone to have that kind of an experience (for instance: fake pills, glow sticks, tye dye etc... obviously I'm thinking of ravers and the like who take LSD and Ecstasy... but would that really clarify the concept of the gesture that my figure is trying to convey??)

It recently dawned on me, however, that people who have out of body experiences are also often those people who have near-death experiences, or even actually die for a few minutes and then are somehow revived or come back to life.. Brainstorming with my husband brought me to the conclusion that the perfect puppeteer for this project would be the grim reaper.. not only does the grim reaper represent death's messenger and thus symbolizes the decision concerning who gets to come back from an out of body experience or not, but he is the ultimate puppeteer over all of our bodies in a (somewhat dark and disturbing) sense... Thus using the imagery of a hooded figure residing over my cross would help facilitate the ultimate message that my body gesture is attempting to send.

Now I just need some inspiration about how to create this figure in a simple, yet meaningful way...
I am hoping these photos will motivate me to assemble the final piece of my body project!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Body Project Progression

How does one capture the "gesture" of an out of body experience? This is a photo-log of my journey throughout the process of trying to make that happen!

Phase 1: Selena wrapped me ankles to neck in cellophane, and then we proceeded to add strips of packaging tape until there was no seemingly possible way that I would ever get out! The shoulders were the trickiest, since my arms will be in such awkward positions (looking forward to that phase..), but it turned out beautifully. 
It was hot as hell in there; now I know how those poor little caterpillars feel in their cocoons... but hopefully the metamorphosis of my body project will be worth the sweat (literally, it was gross)! 

Body Project: Phase 1

Phase 2: Had to reinforce my "body" today.. it got a little deformed while being stored in the classroom. I think that we were a little behind the learning curve (re: using cheap tape)- so we had to call in Scotch reinforcements in order to keep my (naturally) flat booty from collapsing any further! Overall, I think it's coming along very nicely! (It is kinda freaky too, though- I have to admit!)

Body Project: Phase 2

Phase 3: Had to do this part at home (it was a little on the creepy side).. So I recruited my husband to help me, and I think he had a little too much fun! He decided it would be "hilarious" (ie: "disturbing" to most normal people- he has a great sense of humor) to leave the blinds up in the living room while he proceeded to wrap my entire head in plastic wrap right next to the window. . I'm surprised nobody called the cops!
And then after covering it in tape (can somebody say claustrophobia??) he threatened not to cut it off!
I wonder what the neighbors think of us now?

This has been an interesting project to say the least!

Dexter's next victim!

And.. We have a head!