Revealing Mask of Metabolic Personality
Anne Carina Voelkel _ email: firstname.lastname@example.org _ Tutor: Shaun Murray
Revealing Mask of Metabolic Personality
>>If space is the field for memory and memory the field for our self invention, we must live in some seam between inside and outside, some corridor between the place we make and the place that makes us.<< (Richard Powers, 2007)
In reference to Vaturana and Marela, living organisms are in constant exchange with their environment. Where as processes of causality between nonliving objects can be explained by the rules of physics, interactions between living organisms and their surrounding remain unpredictable, as they can decide whether to adapt or to ignore any changes. These interactions are called processes of cognition and include the self generation of living networks. The entire structure of the organism participates in the process of cognition at all levels of life, beginning with the simplest cell, mind and matter, process and structure are inseparably connected (Capra, 2003). Considered this theory with a human being involved, these processes construct the individual personality under which their environment is anticipated. One of the characteristics a person has is the ability to distinguish between an inner world of memory, fantasy and desires from the outer world of perceived events, time, people and places. Both sides inform the image that is presented but in an individual balanced, compromised form. Following the linguistic roots, traced by Gordon Allport (1937, p. 25 ff. as cited in Monte, 1999, p. 08 ff), the word >>personality<< derives from person which has its origins in the Latin noun >>persona<< that designated the masks worn by actors. The Latin word >>persona<< was also employed with other different meanings: as one appears to others, the part that someone plays in life, an assemblage of personal qualities that fit a man for his work or distinction and dignity. The Greek equivalent >>prospon<< also designated the theatrical mask and the distinction between superficial and fundamental characteristics. The metaphor of actor and the mask shows the dichotomy between the surface of public behaviour presented to others and a, perhaps different, private self that is concealed from view.
>>Fundamentally the person is nothing real: it is a compromise between individual and society as a man should appear to be. He takes a name, earns a title, exercises a function, he is this or that. In a certain sense all this is real, yet in relation to the essential individuality of the person concerned it is only a secondary reality, a compromise formation, in making which others often have a greater share than he.<< (C. Jung, 1935, p.158 as cited in Monte, 1999, p.10)
Taking into account that the image which is shown to others is a compromise form between an inside and outside world, it must be perceived as an interface over which the natural flow of external or internal forces and their relationship can be controlled. This balancing process can be described as a reciprocal trigger system of personality with several counterparts and layers on each side. The external components vary depending on the composition of the perceived events. The inner parts consist of matter and mind which are being developed over time by interactions with their environment. The information that affects their behaviour when stimulated is stored in form of memories, wishes, desires and feelings in either the conscious area (directly perceptible to and under the control of the person concerned (dict.)) or unconscious area of the mind (inaccessible to the conscious mind but that affects behaviour and emotions (dict.) in encoded form.). For the reason to sustain systemâ€™s operational capability an internal censorship system steers the outcome and prevents the unacceptable, destructive urges to come to force. If transactions of a person with the social world are an indispensable part to life, masks play an important role to protect the inner, maybe unsociable identity (memories, wishes, desires, drives) from everyday conventions which define the status, the function and expectations one is exposed. They are a tool that helps to filter and to adapt to the demands from the outside as well as the insistent forces from the inner world, in order to maintain the etiquette and with it the stability of interpersonal relations. In Venice during the 18th century an artificial standardized social mask >>the bauta<< used by the upper class has emerged. Adding another neutral interface onto the personal one, identified the wearer not just as an equal member of a social stratum, it also broke the tense spacial structures where an anonymous acting seemed impossible. Denying the individuum was not understood as a loss, it allowed the wearer to move along the boundaries of society, to overcome social restrictions and orders even to attend immoral, illicit or criminal rituals incognito.
>>A mask gives you a sense of liberation, you can be much more playful behind them.<< (Gillian Wearing, 2009)
Today most of our social communication takes place via virtual platforms in the world wide web that creeps into our defined physical space as an all-consuming boundless second reality. We adopt multiple alternating pseudo personalities that come to life on a screen. While we invent ourselves as we go, the true self becomes shapeless and unseizable, hidden behind a continuous exposed mask, an impersonal agent. This relationship not just overcomes all imaginable boundaries, it takes all personal responsibility and puts us so into the position of detached observers of a world we think we participate and construct while we deny the own identity.
>>Masks reveal what they conceal. By donning some masks but not others, people disclose precisely what they would most shield. Indeed a person does not hide behind a mask so much a struggle beneath the weight of it.<< (C.F. Monte, 1999, cover page)
If there exists a direct connection between the conditions of an environment and the subjectivity or objectivity of an participating individuum in such a way, that a space can provide the environment where an active participant plays an objective anonymous role, there must be an spacial construct that reveals the individuum behind, and with it the immediate relationship between their actions and the result. A Revealing Mask of Metabolical Personality... aims to develop a trigger system within a certain environmental context, that allows the individuals to explore themselves via a mask, the relationship to their environment and to each other by stimulating the awareness of living organisms involved. The first questions that arise in this context are: What is the system of the mask? What is the environment and which influence has it on the system? What are the demands on that system, what are the single elements in contact? How plays the individual their part within the system? How can the participants experience their involvement?
To develop my project I am intending to continue with the method I have started in my previous work, the Being John Malkovich series, where physical models brought into an environmental context help to explore the relationship between the different counterparts in the mask system involved. In order to underline the metabolical statement, an experiment with a living biotope, inspired by Eduardo Kacâ€™s installation >> Specimen of Secrecy about Marvellous Discoveries<< (Kac, 2004/06) will be set up and hopefully integrated in a final installation that allows different individuals to take part. The technique of extracted photography overlaid with drawings shall help to document the triggering processes and to reveal the hidden connections behind. As environmental inspiration serves the site of the >>Mole Man<< a psychotic place, an >>architecture of degeneration<< where the owner >>instead of creating gleaming towers buried down, expanding his house outwards from below<< (Holland, 2009). The processes behind the mask can be informed by the Freudian theories of dream work - with the idea that >>dreams are mental states designed to bring about the fulfilment of wishes or desires<< (Monte, 1999, p.104). A process of masking by distorting recalled memories that compose the story of a dream (Monte, 1999, p.13) and with it the narrative of the self.
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