Stephen Fry makes me smile. Have a look-see and a listen-hear…oops I mean here:
The kinship between people and art is a bond built from the need to express our innermost feelings. Art’s aesthetic qualities haven’t only been a key component in demonstrating personal taste; it’s also played a role in identity formation. A lot like art, our identities tell a story; however, it’s a story that’s often misperceived. When art and the body are fused together, a more profound story is told. It’s a story that’s prompted by individuals like Orlan, a performance artist, who uses body modification technologies to claim ownership over her identity. Technology can be both advantageous and empowering when examining body modification in Orlan’s work.
If we were to erase relentless images of perfect bodies, flawless faces, or even the media for that matter, we, who are built on these false ideas of beauty, would be a lot happier with who we are. We would also be able to construct an identity on our own without any influence from what we see in the media. As a result it’s difficult for you or I to create the authentic self, meaning that we construct our identity based on what we see, not on our own. False implications of authenticity, which are promoted by the media, are consumed by individuals who work to replicate images of beauty and perfection by applying it to their own identity. The medical industry also plays a role in promoting identities as something that can be changed, preserved or augmented. The question: is changing one’s identity a personal matter as much as it is a societal matter? And to what lengths will people go to achieve the identity they see as fit for public display? The answers to these questions are challenged by Orlan, who’s on a mission to conquer society’s tainted views of what it means to be beautiful. Orlan escapes common motives for undergoing plastic surgery. Her motives revolve around mastering her own identity by constructing it with the help of plastic surgery. In doing so, she’s proving that technology can be used as a means for proper use for proper representation because her many faces challenge what it means to be beautiful.
She says: “I was the first to use plastic surgery to divert it away from its obsession with improving the body and making it younger. I act with respect to sculpting oneself, inventing oneself” (page198, Donger et al).
Instead of trying to fit into an identity that society deems as acceptable, she does the opposite. Her work demonstrates the opposite of what we think of femininity, gender, race and conventional beauty. Orlan uses plastic surgery procedures to achieve human uniqueness and to break away from conventional ways of creating an identity. Her live surgeries are a part of her performance revealing the body as a machine. In the text Sociology of the Body, the author notes that Orlan “…has been engaged in a series of projects in which she performs body modifying surgeries, which are filmed while she is awake and during which she speaks about the politics of medical technologies, consumption, fashion, art, body image, and beauty” (Malcrida and Low, page 352). Although the surgeries are an extreme means for constructing an identity and her performances are gruesome, Orlan brings her audience closer to her project allowing people to confront the issue with identity formation. She’s allowing us to see how identity is created; a different perspective outside of the one that is commonly created by the media. Plastic surgery allows Orlan to produce the authentic self- an identity that is in constant flux.
(Picture: Orlan, Self-Hybridization African: Mbangu Mask with Face of Euro-Saint-Etienne Woman in Rollers, 2002.)
Above, Orlan becomes a site of power and a symbol of resistance as she depicts unconventional beauty. This face also challenges normality and even raises questions about abnormality. She demonstrates the binary between the natural and the unnatural, the beautiful and the monster, and even black and white (race). She also links the body and technology to personal agency because it’s become her choice to choose her identity and put it on display, which is interrupting and deferring the male gaze. It’s also important to note that the autonomous Orlan gains freedom by producing her many faces in a way she wishes to promote her identity. Her many faces are a testimony that speaks to our society. The fact that Orlan has sacrificed her body for body modification surgery demonstrates that the issue with identity has been an ongoing problem within our society- perhaps paralleling the reason why bullying is a growing problem?
In an interview she says:
“…the surgery performances are an extension of these ideas [self-sculpting], a way of refiguring yourself, of vacillating between disfiguring and refiguring, the idea of not accepting what is automatically inherited through genes…It was also present in the idea of retransforming my body in a way that violated dominant aesthetic criteria…The changes I made to my face was an attempt to sidestep the norms we-and I- are constrained” (184, Donger et al).
The autonomy Orlan achieves has the power to imply to its audience that there is more to the body than the body itself.
(Picture: Orlan, Fifth Surgery Performance or Operation Opera, 1991.)
During her performance surgeries, like the one above, face tissue and blood is revealed by surgeons who are constructing her face and although it may seem as though Orlan is portraying the body as organic, she is doing the opposite. She “surgically transforms herself into an ambiguous subject, potentially placing herself in an abject and marginalized relationship to society” (O’Bryan, 110). This solidifies the body as a machine and the body as a metaphor for the pain the body endures from public scrutiny. Orlan sacrifices the face she was born with for a constantly changing one. In doing so, she is escaping the ordinary world and is abandoning the ideological constraints that systems of power place on individuals. She isn’t striving to represent the real nor is she trying to produce something recognizable. Her purpose lies in engaging people in a discussion about identity. In another interview she discusses the notion of the body as a vehicle that carries meaning.
She says: “This body is at times helping us think, and at other times paralyzing us, deciding for us, as if it were outside of us. I have aimed to expose this distanciation, to put it into relief, through the multiple images of my body that I have created: the body as material; art as material for being, sculpting and inventing oneself; the body as language. I have attempted this by tapping into reality and thus employing the literal, or material, quality of performance with respect to the violence inflicted upon the body” (189, Donger et al).
Orlan represents utopian ideals because she’s become who she wants to be, escaping the institutions that affect the construction of a person’s identity, like the media for example. Despite the scrutiny that Orlan may encounter, medical technology serves as a purposeful tool that demonstrates how technology can be both advantageous and empowering. Identity formation has become a cultural narrative that people can relate to, oppose, or find interest in. Whether technology promotes individualism or whether it’s a part of aiming to create a conventional society, all technologies are a part of consumerism and capitalism. Undoubtedly technology can assist in reshaping the self and breaking out of the constraints society creates. The result of medical technology in Orlan’s work demonstrates how technology can be used to claim ownership over one’s identity, helping one achieve human uniqueness and empowerment. Her body modification work also demonstrates that the fusion of art and body can act as a powerful means for sparking conversations about identity. It also shows how a face has the power to tell a story. You couldn’t pay me to do what she does, which also says a lot about Orlan. She represents more than art, controversy and a changing face, which sparks both positive and negative conversation. She represents sacrifice.
What do you think?
Haraway, Donna J. “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century.” Sociology of the Body. Ed. Claudia Malacrida and Jacqueline Low. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.
O’Bryan, Jill C. Carnal Art: Orlan’s Refacing. Minnesota: University of Minnesota, 2005.
Orlan. Orlan: A Hybrid Body of Artworks. Eds. Simon Donger, Simon Shepherd, Orlan. New York: Routledge, 2010. Print.
Remember when someone said this to you and it was only a figure of speech? Let’s hope tomorrow’s events turn out the way we’re hoping they will and the above remains as a figure of speech. In case the world does end tomorrow, I’m posting this today. In case it’s my last, I just want to thank ya’ll for reading. If we live to see December 22nd, then ignore what I’ve just said.
So you have a vision and you want to share it with the world but some networking limitations have made it hard for you to do so. You have a talent for producing music, designing, creating fashionable and unique pieces and a story you’d like to share with the world but haven’t got the place to market your creations. You breathe, dream and bleed art. You’d rather paint instead of eat; you’d rather sew before you sleep; you’d rather write than wrought away your ideas. It’s your passion; it’s your life and all you’ve ever hoped for is an avenue without a dead end. Ahh so you’re a struggling artist, a struggling writer? Well what if I was to tell you that there is a network so innovative and groundbreaking that it could possibly change all of the above. They’re called ArtRebels and are giving artists and writers and people like you and me the opportunity to engage in the creative artist’s world on a global scale. This site is so clever, eye-catching, lucrative and yes, very fun to browse on. You can be a part of this community here: www.artrebels.com. It’s a place I may want to submit my first novel. It might also be one of the first places you do too if you’re interested in self-publishing.
Pretty cool huh? ArtRebels is a business based on creativity and their website is a place where artists and writers can network, share and sell their work. They are revolutionizing the idea of how artists can profit and how the art community can connect and thrive. ArtRebels, a creative portal filled with all walks of art from fashion and visual art, to music and literature have created a new definition for the expression out with the old and in with new, dispelling the myth of the starving artist and promoting the growing artist as enterprising.
ArtRebels sends the interpreter, innovator and art lover on a colourful journey to find meaning and gain ownership over the various different works the website offers. The challenges the artist faced before have now been replaced with opportunities, giving the artist access to patrons and patrons access to art. What has begun to take shape is this thriving connection demonstrating that the independent artist’s art is not only of visual value but can be of monetary value too. It’s also a liberating platform for creativity and gives innovators and artists a chance to compete in the corporate world because it disables networking constraints among the creative community. ArtRebels is an intentional break from conventional ways of sharing art because it creates a new place for people to share and collect what they love, creating a new perspective on the artist. They are also giving the autonomous author, artist and designer a wonderful balance between independence and unity. ArtRebels’ website has become the artist’s gallery and the writer’s library.
So, what are the positives?
-Everyone has the chance to join their network. This site is floored with opportunity, allowing anybody (from writers to artists) the CHANCE to be a part of their movement.
-Changing the accessibility of art, ArtRebels is thinning the line between the failed artist and success, allowing the artist to get closer to people and closer to their dream.
-They’re changing how we look at the artist and the business world by providing more opportunities (jobs) for the artist to add their creative touch to a bland way of making money- could ArtRebels be the answer to boosting the economy?
-ArtRebels may be the first to fire off a movement that will push others to think outside the box and to look at art as a lucrative business, rather than a practice that is only used for entertainment.
-They’re creating a positive change by creating projects for the youth, social change and charities.
-They’re bringing back a sense of community by uniting people at art festivals they have organized for inspiration and for a good cause.
-In so many ways ArtRebels is making life colorful and fun- who could hate that?
Magnetized by what this network has to offer it is so important to see that ArtRebels have created an enriching haven of various art forms which provide the same relative freedom artists and writers have while they are creating. Inevitably they are providing texture to the business world. The artist has the power to evolve as an innovator, allowing art to take on a form of emancipation. The layering of business and creativity can show the world a different way we look at artists and business. Without a doubt the cumulative effect of artists and ArtRebels demonstrates that there can be a definite kinship between art and business. Most importantly, if you have work to contribute go for it. Submit it to ArtRebels.
With music and words intertwined, James Joyce’s “Sirens” of Ulysses is undeniably a virtuous work of art. It portrays an effortless array of music and literature that not only speaks to the reader but also sings to the reader. Among other things, Joyce brings out the inter-connectedness of literature and music with interesting characters, figurative language, and intonation as its central and most important effort in transforming language into a musical composition of words. “Sirens” is intended to challenge one’s perception of language by de-familiarizing the reader with words, syntax, and meaning and is a very musical chapter intended to capture sounds in language. Essentially, Joyce reveals that through the association of language and music, meaning becomes secondary. These two examples below outline how words are intended to allow the reader to hear rather than just see.
“…Follow. Risk it. Go quick. At four. Near now. Out.” (Page 339)
“Horn. Have you the? Horn. Have you the? Haw haw horn.” (Page 347)
Joyce magically transforms language into music and although he is challenging the reader’s perception of language, he has effectively shown that it is possible to create music with words. So in honor of Joyce I thought I’d take a stab at turning words into music. It was harder than I thought. It may be the worst thing I have ever written and Joyce is probably rolling in his grave. I’m apologizing in advance Mr. Joyce.
Coffee Shop Injuries
“Can I. Can I help you? Coffee? Can I help you?” asked the curious lady at the counter.
“Double double on the double. Cup. Coffee. Cream. Cream. Sugar. Sugar. Double double on the double,” the customer replied.
“Coffee comes in cups. Calm calm your coffee nerves. A double double is on the double. Coffee quickly, quickly coming.”
Clink. Cling. Clang. Clang. Cling. Clink. Broom. Bap. Broom.
Clink! “Haha here you go go drink the double double on the double.”
“Sip sap sip. Ahh haha how hot. Drinking double doubles haha hurt my tall tale tongue.”
“See saw see? My, my drinking double doubles on the double double. Trouble trouble. Careful careful,” she replied.
“Thaw, thaw, thank you. I’ll be careful to due dumb duh drink slowly surely. Now my tall tale tongue can’t cooperate casually with content because of the holy hot cup of coffee. I wish I weren’t washing words with wish washy silly sounds. I need to leave leap leave to sew some sentences together. By then I may spa speak no numb normally. See you so so soon.”
I think that’s enough writing with intonation for one day. I think you’d agree.