iSelves is Plural for iSelf

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WITHIN MY ERRATICALLY EXPANDING BODY of work utilizing mirrors I have constructed 12 small sculptures into a series dubbed iSelves 1-12. Each stand-alone piece is titled iSelf # (i.e. iSelf 1, iSelf 2 etc.), the name (obviously) referencing the common-place contemporary technological device known as the iPhone. Each sculpture consists of a mirror on which is drawn in paint marker specific phrases and/or designs hinting at various underlying themes or ‘messages’. Graffiti and graffiti art come to mind via the paint marker medium–and yet who in their right mind would vandalize an iPhone? The size of each mirror (3″ x 6″) roughly corresponds to the size of the latest iPhone (which to date is about to be the iPhone 8; when I began the project months ago it was version 6; and we can deduce that permutation 12 is not far off). 12 is a number which commonly signifies completion (12 months in a year, 12 as a unit of time, 12 zodiac signs, 12 apostles). Each mirror is grasped by a life-size wooden mannequin hand which stands upright when placed on a flat surface.

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Top and center of each mirror is a black oval delineated by a thin white line; this stands in for the camera eye which is a universal feature of all smart phones (the all-seeing eye of Sauron?). The smart phone’s camera eye is the mirror through which the wielder can ‘see’ oneself via taking a selfie. Yet in the world of iSelves, the all-seeing eye is just a representation and reference–a mimesis which does not deliver. The mirroring capability of the camera has been swapped for a literal mirror. The mirror image that is produced via selfie on an iPhone is a contrived self-awareness that is fixed and experienced after the fact, whereas a real mirror image can only be experienced in real time and cannot be ‘captured’. Because the iSelves are ‘art’ and not ‘technology’, the ‘user’ is not the active wielder but rather the receptive viewer. Wielding and viewing are different modals of experience which place the individual at different exclusive centers of awareness. The receptive viewer is ultimately not in control of how one experiences what one is seeing, and when confronting an iSelf, they cannot avoid immediately seeing themselves in the mirror. However, their mirror image is fragmented and partially blocked by the drawn-on designs–the grasping of their image-identity is inhibited. Paradoxically, I would argue that art has greater potential for true self-awareness than technology.

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Each iSelf is a permutation of the overall concept, much as each successive iPhone is an ‘updated’ version of the previous one. This brings into question the concept of ‘originality’: is the first iPhone the ‘original’ iPhone, or is each iPhone its own original? More unsettling concerns and questions are unleashed: Is each iSelf an ‘original’ in and of itself–even though the form (format, formula) and the concept (conception) are roughly the same? Does this scheme open up a space for ‘original reproduction’ ad infinitum? In the world of the iSelf, can there be any true ‘original’ if the substrate is a mirror, which by the virtue of its nature, is different every time it is perceived?

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Though iSelves 1-12 are best experienced in real time and space, below are photographic images of them. This of course removes the mirror function which is central to the pieces–yet I believe implicit ‘messages’ can still be delivered and perceived via photographic reproduction. However irresponsible or hyperreal this representation of the art might be, I believe their agency translates well on screen. Inhibitions and implications abound, see for yourself what each iSelf does for you.

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Additionally, I would like to propose an idea for a looped soundclip: the iTone. Ideally the iTone would mimic the mono-repertoire of the seagulls in Finding Nemoexcept instead of repeating “Mine! Mine! Mine!…” over and over, the mantra would be “I! I! I! I! I….“.  Wouldn’t you want this as your ringtone?

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And in case you were wondering if “you think you’ve seen a film on you’re fucking telephone?”, David Lynch has the answer:

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Beauty of the Moment: Integrating Separate Realities

IT’S EASY TO FORGET ABOUT (being a boring-old air-breathing land-animal) the mysterious and delicate beauty constantly teeming beneath the watery depths which make up most of this planet. I have moments from time to time in which I am struck by the solid fact that there are millions of interactions and transactions occurring this very moment (and this moment, and this moment!) unbeknownst to me in all the various ecosystems around the globe. I stop to imagine all of the millions of seahorses that just must be being born right now! I may never see them in person, but as long as seahorses continue to exist in this world, I can imagine the reality. And with the abundance and grace of new technology, we boring-old land-breathing land-animals are able to see more and more into the recesses of the previously inaccessible–into the depths where the thousands of sea horses are being born right now.

This is great: with the assistance of a live webcam, anyone can see the beauty of a moment which is outside their own physical reality. What you are experiencing when viewing a live stream is awareness of a universe parallel to your own. With the eye of the webcam, you can access a moment that is impossible to physically experience (in the moment, that is). It is not the same thing as being in two places at once, but it is being aware of two places (or existences) at once. Of course, the view is limited to your computer screen. Yet, the imagination–which will gladly take this awareness and run with it, if allowed–further opens up vistas of perception beyond one’s own knowing. Thus, far apart realities overlap, and can be integrated to increase one’s awareness of the infinity of the moment.

Upon my recent discovery of the Anacapa Island webcams, I find myself checking in virtually on takes of underwater scenes several times throughout the day. It is reassuring to absorb a vibrant living scene occurring at the same time as one’s own (perhaps mundane) day-t0-day-ness. The constant dance of ocean life in particular remind one of the truth of perpetual and inevitable change. The watery world of the depths is both autonomous (happening of its own accord) and conjunct (responding, reacting, and interacting with our above-ground world). This underwater webcam technology highlights the paradox of independence and inter-connectedness: that life on earth functions via individuals which are simultaneously separate and integrated into a whole. When watching the live stream, my reality is my physical surroundings (i.e. room I am in, with the computer connected to the internet etc.)–but now also layered with awareness of an underwater realm. The cams aren’t always live; when it gets too dark, ‘highlights’ from the webcams recorded footage are screened (so you can see into the past, as well). When live, the stream is sometimes from a still, unmanned camera, a mechanical eye which allows me to secretly peer into a world which has no idea I am watching it. It is like a two-way mirror through which I can observe glowing giant kelp sway rhythmically; orange Garibaldi and tri-toned Sheephead dart and mingle; and Sea Lions casually cruise by–and yet they cannot even begin to know about me watching them through the computer screen.

So now I don’t have to 100% imagine what is happening right now offshore the island closest to where I live–I can see it, virtually, in my home (or at least, a small peephole segment of it). But rather than reducing the need or desire to imagine the unknowable, this newfound awareness actually completes the circuit, generating a progressive feedback which pushes one into more unknown territory. We imagine, we search, we find, and then imagine more–perhaps ad infinitum (is this the true infinity of the universe?). It is at least human evolution in motion, one air-breathing land-animal at a time.

A (large and time-consuming) drawing I did after snorkeling in Hawaii:

The Depths of the Ocean II / 2009 / ink on paper / 24″ x 36″

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