Sunday, November 8, 2009

Self Portrait 2: process

My idea for the second self portrait started with the "If I were..." brainstorming game: if I were Superman. I'll admit, I have a thing for superheroes- I've seen almost every superhero movie, I know the stories and characters- I've even read a few comics. I'm not sure what it is, but I love the whole concept of a superhero. So I thought coming at this project from Superman's point of view would be interesting and fun, but not much else.

From my notes:

"If I were Superman:

I have this hidden side only my closest, most trusted friends know, and it’s dangerous for them to know. I also have a very public image, one that comes with responsibility and a reputation I have to uphold. To be honest, I don’t have time for this self-reflection, self-portrait stuff- there are too many people out there who need my help. I live here, I fit in, but I’m an alien, I don’t belong. I believe I have a purpose, that I can and do make a difference in the world. This art stuff is tricky- I want to be honest in my work, but if I’m not careful someone might figure it out- I can’t afford to have my true identity revealed. It’s about privacy, safety- not just for me but for my family and friends. And yet, no one truly knows me: it’s so much effort, keeping up this fa├žade."

This got me thinking about the whole secret identity/dual identity idea: how all of us have a side of ourselves that we only reveal to our closest, most trusted friends. Why do we have these alter-egos? Wouldn't it just be easier if we were open and honest with one another? What if we all had little scrolling billboards on our foreheads telling what we're really going through- wouldn't we be able to understand and relate to one another easier if we actually knew where other people were coming from?

I was also able to relate dual identities to my life, and the different roles or identities I have. Two contrasting roles are that of an art student and that of an athlete. It's interesting, what people assume if you don't dress like an "art student." I might use these roles, playing them off as my Clark Kent/Superman identities.

Based on these reflections, and the feedback from my group, I am thinking I'd like to do a self-portrait similar to one of the above Superman images. I would use photography for my medium, and I would address the ideas of dual/conflicting identities and roles, "secret identities," and/or superheroes and superhumans in general, and why people are fascinated with them (I know I'm not the only one!)

So far I have found research on the effects of keeping secrets (negative for psychological development), on the benefits of extracurricular activities in the aspirations and educational success of students, and on the history of super-human figures throughout history and their particular appeal in America's past and present. Super-human characters appear in some of their earliest forms in the Greek/Roman eras, as gods. Today's supers most often appear on the big screen, but there are even real-life "superheroes" who go around in capes helping the police by giving tips or helping their communities by performing acts of kindness! See the link below:

Once you enter, you can click on "superhero registry" and see the profiles of heroes like Captain Jackson, Entomo, and Zetaman. I can't decide whether to laugh or be impressed!

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