Identity and Transience

A few months ago I was experimenting with printing images onto tracing paper, maps and graph paper and layering them. The tracing paper makes me think about transience, and because of the counselling course I’ve been thinking about identity. The things that make up who I am, about what I could remove and still be me. When I’m thinking about transience, I’m thinking about the way things pass. Good and bad.

One of the tracing paper images was an image of clouds. They represent several things to me; the most obvious being bad feeling, clearly. But these clouds are taken from a plane, the journey being transient, the fear I felt getting onto that plane now gone. The experiences I had in New York, the good and bad, now gone.

Another tracing paper image is one of my parents; again, they represent both good and bad. It’s a very poignant image for me. They’ve caused me a lot of pain. They represent a lot of bad things. But this image was taken before I knew them, and what they were then has passed out of existence. It reminds me that I’m a parent, and I want my children to have a better feeling when they look at an image of me than I do when I look at this image. In a way I’m proud of my parents here. But I think that’s because my parents were always the young, cool ones. The beautiful ones. Maybe all style and no substance, unless substance is schizophrenia and raging narcism, obviously. One day my children will all leave home. This family, although it feels very solid and immovable now, is transient too.

The violin represents music, which clearly is transient and that is what makes it so beautiful. I had a lesson today with my teacher Richard. Sometimes I get a great sound and I’m pleased, other times I feel like chucking the damn violin through the window and giving up. I wonder if I will be able to play it forever? What if I get arthritis when I’m old and can’t play? I wonder what that will feel like? I can’t imagine not being able to play; it would feel like a mini death every time.

The final image is me. I took this about a year ago, so I haven’t changed significantly over that time. But I know I won’t look this way forever. When I was a teenager I got bullied about my appearance every single day – mainly it was because of my unruly, curly hair. It seemed that nobody could see past it. But looking back it must have been other things too; I was usually dressed in clothes that had already been worn by two cousins, so nothing fashionable and mostly falling to bits. I was worn down by my parents; from the constant criticism from my father and from caring for my mother and dealing with her mental health problems. I was never allowed to be a child, and other children picked up on that. Anyway, it took a long time for me to feel comfortable with the way I look, but I have to live with the knowledge that it’s not forever; as I get older I will inevitably change and I wonder what that will do to me? The bullying didn’t last, no-one makes fun of the way I look now. They haven’t done for years. But maybe that will change and the comments will start again; this time that I look old or whatever. What will they say, and how will I take it?

 

 

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Layering of images taken on on tracing paper. Self-portrait, violin, and clouds.

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This was my favourite image from these experiments. It’s a layer of an old Photo Booth image of my parents aged about 16 or so, and and self portrait of me taken on Photo Booth on an iMac in 2016.

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