Change, Experience Design 2015
A personal piece, I created this work out of a need for understanding in my life. Poetry originally written for my creative writing class became coupled with images and interactivity that I developed into what I call "experience design." This piece, neatly contained in a old, ___x___ box, has been shared conservatively. It is meant to be viewed alone, and is presented with a note to the viewer as they open the box.
It all began the morning Tanner left for jail. Our favorite past time and 23-year-old male carelessness had caught up with him, and I was scared. His skin color didn’t always fare well where he was going, and particularly not as of late.
So, he left. I walked him to the door like I normally do, and he left. I came back up to my room and opened the door, just like I had a million times before. I had never gotten used to watching him leave, but this time – this time, my heart seeped through my body and spilled on the room, and my anger and tears and fears followed. I saw the bed and where his hand had last touched as he left it – left me – and I made the image.
Everyone has experiences that change them; that spark new From that point on, I wanted to make images of my bed. At first, I only made the image after he had left or on lonely mornings after a weekend full of life. That was when my biggest fears about life and my future crawled up my skin and settled into my mind, and somehow, focusing on the making of an image through a blurry lens subdued my emotions and calmed my body. My soul then remembered to soothe, and I was brought back to control.
As the end of my education approached, I began making more images of my bed when I would come back to my room after experiencing a particularly intense emotion. I didn’t know why at first, but I’ve realized it all comes down to wanting to remember my moments – from not letting them slip away. And my bed was where all the activity in my life happened; I eat, sleep, study, work, paint my nails, and smoke on my bed. It is the central location in my world, and when you see it, you can look at the traces of what last transpired.
I began writing poetry, as well, for my Creative Writing course and would sit up late at night to write my own personal poetry before I allowed myself to sleep, often reflecting the emotions and experiences I had dealt with that day. Acknowledging and feeling fully my emotions, as well as comforting myself and showing self compassion for the emotions I had, allowed me to accept and move past the pain, and learn from the experience, growing into a better person.
I was never going to share this with anyone. I was going to obediently write my poetry about the soul and go on my merry way. But I had an idea, and once I have an idea, I usually don’t let it go.
So the “poetry packet” morphed into one about change. It’s about all the emotions a single human – my human – feels during a huge soul shift. I believe the soul to be infinite and forever; a small part of the energy that is the universe. I believe the body and this life to be something we occupy for a short while, one that is meant to teach our soul whatever it is here to learn. This ongoing cycle – the start and stop of lives, the ever-present change – is represented in my life and work with an equilateral triangle.
This time around, I think my soul has to learn to accept change and meet it with grace and ease instead of allowing it to consume and pull me away from my soul’s intentions and purpose. Harsh change, intense change, torturous change – I have to learn to embrace it while finding the beauty and excitement and fun in it all.
When I was young, I had this plastic box with a blue, handled lid on top that I would keep all my dearest treasures in. My dearest treasures were a little more odd than one might expect, however. They included all my baby teeth, the braces that I had worn for a year, the $100 bill my grandpa had given me before he died taped to the back of a small portrait of Jesus, locks of hair from all my pets, a sprinkle of my dad’s aftershave, my proudly grown (I had the longest in the class) and sadly cut fingernails, a photo strip from the father-daughter dance, and about 30 gold dollar coins my grandpa had hidden under the chair in his living room for us to find over the years.
After I “grew up,” I thought these objects were just plain weird choices. Why would anyone keep disgusting braces, hair, and fingernails? But then I started making this work, and I realized that I needed some things in order to make it whole. I needed to bottle up and keep forever at my fingertips a couple of tangible memories of this piece of my life – the piece I am about to leave behind forever. And so I sealed a thousand memories into four vials.
Every object is represented in this book.
My photographic body of work, Heart Over Head, captures the practices of self compassion that help me through change – it is the response to this body of work, which captures the turmoil that causes my need for self compassion at all. Every tiny component of this work holds great significance to me and my life here. You hold in your hand a piece of my soul.
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