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!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Why OBE?

Originally, I chose the phrase “body snatcher” for this project... unfortunately, that phrase also fit Bailey’s fancy, so she used her white elephant advantage and straight up snatched my phrase (pun intended)... so I was forced to choose a new one. However, as the rest of the students went around the room sharing their body words and phrases, I recognized a few that were not on my list, so I wrote them down and thought on them until it was my turn again: disembodied, celestial body, busy body, dead body, foreign body and out of body experience. For some reason, “out of body experience” resonated with me; I had a feeling that our personal projects were going to relate to the phrase we chose, so I thought that it would be fun and challenging to see where this particular body phrase took me...

Friday, April 8, 2011

"Out of Body Experience" Etymology

According to Wikipedia:
“An out-of-body experience (OBE or sometimes OOBE) is an experience that typically involves a sensation of floating outside of one's body and, in some cases, perceiving one's physical body from a place outside one's body.”
The term “out of body experience” was coined in 1943 by G.N.M Tyrrell in his book Apparitions, and has since become a widely researched topic over the past six (ish) decades. However, the physiological and psychological underpinnings of the phenomenon continue to evade researchers, causing attempted scientific explanations to be speculative (at best) in nature. An OBE can be completely spontaneous, or it can be induced through a variety of physical and psychological pathways. For example, mass trauma, severe dehydration, and the use of psychedelic drugs have all been cited as causes of out of body experiences. Near-death experiences have also commonly produced the effect of feeling as if one was on the outside of one’s own body or looking down on it, almost from a spectator’s point of view. Scientists have attempted to reproduce these experiences through magnetic/electrical brain stimulation, sensory deprivation (or, conversely, sensory overload), meditative and sleep techniques, and also by using various types of  chemicals. While some studies have been able to replicate OBE’s, there is still no hardcore scientific proof that they actually occur, or what exactly causes the sensation of them.   

"Body" Etymology

Put the word "body" in the google search bar, and 1,740,000,000 hits will be returned! However, when researching the history of the actual word itself, there isn't too much that is readily available. This is what I have been able to turn up just simply searching online.

According to, a body is: “The physical structure and material substance of an animal or plant, living or dead.”

Body: Word History
Date of Origin Old English [OE]
"For a word so central to people's perception of themselves, body is remarkably isolated linguistically, Old High German had potah 'body,' traces of which survived dialectically into modern times, but otherwise it is without known relatives in any other Indo-European language. Attempts have been made, not altogether convincingly, to link it with words for 'container' or 'barrel,' such as the medieval Latin term butica. The use of body to mean 'person in general,' as in somebody or nobody, became common in the 14th century."

Various other online sources outline a similar development of the emergence and use of the word "body," supporting the likelihood that it originally arose in the Germanic languages, with possible Latin influence. It's evolution from then on took many different forms, with its definition moving from a "trunk or chest" to the "main part" of something (mostly in reference to vehicles in the 1920's), to referring to an actual corpse, to the term "body image" being coined in 1935. 

I think that one of the most interesting things I read was that the term "body" almost immediately became contrasted with the concept of "soul". I have always imagined my soul to be what would remain once I no longer have a body to contain it. . So I guess that my interpretation assumes that body and soul are one rather than binary opposites. . Hmm.