Duality (Part Three)

Duality is a fine art, self portrait series, about identity, my path to self awareness. Initially created out of the need to express internal conflicts, it has developed into a work dedicated to the interpersonal passage of becoming whole. My desire to produce images that represent this stage of the project, the present, has lead me to make changes while retaining the significance of it’s original intent.

I use photography to help me maintain my personal balance. Self portraits are a way to document and gauge my progress and share it with my viewers. Making art gives me a drive to grow and create, all the while providing stability in my mind. The evolution of the project mirrors the evolution of my self, from manic depression to a stable center.

My process captures real emotions, when I am aware of my present state of mind. I use these significant moments as a foundation for my photographs. I write down my feelings and any related ideas into my journal. While I am processing the reactions I am having, I start to produce my scenarios and shoot my images before the mood flees. By capturing these images in the moment, I am actively working through my consciousness and understanding their value.

The use of film represents the raw nature of the human psyche and the use of double exposures allows me to illustrate the division and re-merging of the ego with the self.  Each image emphasizes a present mental state, not always unified, sometimes unbalanced. As I learn to be conscious of my inner self, this work can be a mindful role model for those whom struggle with their own imbalances.

 

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My Duality project and how I got to where I am today.

I was born and raised in the Southern states of America. My mother and father, both from very poor families, met during the Vietnam-American war. I grew up on Army bases with an older brother as my guardian and my hero. He was a natural artist and could sketch or paint anything he imagined. I was always envious of the artist in him. I lived in his shadow until I moved to California.

At the age of 21, I left the South to pursue an education and find my path. I spent the next decade taking darkroom courses and working full time to pay for my California lifestyle. During my time as a business consultant for Apple, I had a break down. I had gotten very ill and spent time in the hospital recovering after a life saving surgery. It was a turning point for many aspects in my life. I decided to follow my dreams of becoming an artist and getting a degree in something I was passionate about. I applied to the undergraduate program at the Academy, it was 2008.

It has been a long road to recovery, mentally. I had fallen into a depression that would last over five years. This emotional roller coaster is how I fueled my creative spiral. I used the photography as therapy and my emotions as concepts. During my undergrad I learned about photography technically and conceptually. I learned about color and light and experimental methods of capture and print. I was so distracted by the academics and technicalities of art, I was able to push through my dark times.
Much of my duality stems directly from my life experiences. During and after my depression, I came to second guess myself and quickly become indecisive. The smallest tasks became enormous obstacles. I became agoraphobic, not leaving the safety of my bed, my island. It was these soul wrenching moments that I used to express myself. I began to shoot myself out of need of a subject then eventually my self portraits turned into my need to express myself, my therapy.

I used myself to learn lighting and conceptual thinking. I also used myself to push my Photoshop skills and composite. I used my own experiences, my own body and mind to produce pieces of my mind. Only recently was I able to convey my vision exactly as I see it in my head. All of the pieces I learned over the years started to come together this year. My confidence as a photographer is finally catching up to me and I can see the growth in my work.
The evolution of my Duality project is visually apparent. The images revealed where I was both mentally and technically in my work. I was using Photoshop to composite and beautiful landscapes to help create a surreal world, to construct my realities. The project was my therapy and my distraction.

Now in the second stage of development, I have grown as a photographer and a narrator. In these images, I’ve grown to appreciate my second nature and even nurture it. Technically the images are more dynamic, less flat. There is more of a commercial feel to them with a better quality of light and contrast. I feel that I am not just a photographer, but a conceptual story teller.

 

du·al·i·ty noun dü-ˈa-lə-tē : the quality or state of having two parts

 
Duality is my long term personal project falling under the fine art genre. The intent is to create an image to make the viewer reflect, experiential. These images are self portraits depicting my internal struggle, scenes from my everyday life. I’ve found a way to bring light to a dark subject with my love for cinema and surrealism. In this series of images, I’ve created real scenarios with a touch of duality magic, showcasing both sides to my personality.

She’s Like Day & Night

Day & Night

 

This is my second image from the newest Duality series. There’s a lot more going on in this scene, I’ve illustrated my own day and night habits.

I try to think logically in the mornings, it’s hard to wake up but I know I need to get my work done early before my distractions start chiming in. This side of my brain has loads of common sense and tends to be straight forward, well organized and rational. I tend to be a little more OCD in this mindset. It’s how things get done around my house. This is the stress inducing Melody, she speaks her mind and isn’t afraid of offending anyone.

While the night time is for my right brained activities. I stay up very late and work creating until I’m exhausted and pass out. I research projects endlessly, brainstorming my ideas for the week. I work without concern for organization or logical thinking. It’s all imagination and vision when I am in this mode. I tend to be more emotional when I am creative. I reminisce and use my past experiences to drive my work. This Melody is more prone to stay inside for a week while she creates her newest masterpiece. She doesn’t care for the general public and finds the inside of her home and her garden a bubble from the rest of the world.

For this image I was inspired by Dave Hill. His composites have been pushing me to try harder. Occasionally I look back on the photographers that have influenced me over the years, and I find something new. Some new technique I never noticed before… it was confidence this time. The confidence to create an image that I am not experienced at. This was my first transitional composite. Going from day to night in one frame is exciting for me. It shows me how far I’ve come in the last year. My concept is evolving and all I have to do is work hard and maintain this balance.

Thank you for checking out my progress. It’s going to be a fantastic fall, stay tuned for another installment of Duality by Melody.

Duality Film Still #1

 

Split Personality

I’m just an average man, with an average life
I work from nine to five; hey hell, I pay the price
All I want is to be left alone in my average home
But why do I always feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone

Rockwell is all that is going through my head as I edit this image. Rad. I am working on the Duality series again. I figure it needs a little closure or a end of some sort. Since I go through life like a movie still, frame to frame, I thought it was on;y right to shoot these in wide screen format. Duality as a movie…. treatment and more stills to come!

Nietszche, Apollonian and Dionysian Poles

Apollo & Dionysus
du·al·i·ty  (d-l-t, dy-)
n.
The quality or character of being twofold; dichotomy.

In Greek Mythology, Apollo and Dionysus are Gods, born from Zeus. Apollo, the God of the Sun, represents music, intellect, logic and reason. Apollo is often seen with a bow and arrow or a lyre. While Dionysus, also known as Bacchus, is the God of the Earth. He represents the bliss of life with wine, agriculture and fertility. Often depicted with wine and a cornucopia of fruits and vegetables. I grew up celebrating Bacchus in New Orleans, we celebrate life, abundance and the ecstasies of living. I fled to California at a young age in search of order.

For me, duality is an inner struggle, something non tangible that keeps us questioning our identity. For some there is a balance, for others an extreme. I am learning to let both sides of my mind live together in a harmonic balance. I’ve been working on my dual sides for the past few years. It has become my creative spiral, from which I draw inspiration from. I struggle with anxiety, hyper-mania and depression. I believe this came about after living such a lavish life in my teens and twenties, the balance was bound to take place.

After surviving my own great tragedy, in which I came very close to death, I withdrew from society and became agoraphobic. I began the long journey of getting to know myself. I was taught about art, history and the creative spiral. I dove into it head first and have landed firmly on my feet.

My spiral is about the inner conflict, the light and dark or Apollo and Dionysus. I have gained the insight to balance my two halves, to create my ideal person and bring peace to my life and those who know me. Since I cannot live without one or the other, I must learn to live with both my yin and yang.

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) defines the two and believed that we must have a balance of both order and chaos to be the best possible person we can. Once the scales tip to one side or the other, the tribulation is inevitable. Both traits are required to live a balanced life.

Apollo’s powers of control, blocks creative instinct and spontaneity. There would no longer be that gut feeling, just logic. Without some control, the chaos would get out of hand, therefore leading me on into the depths of emotion and depression.

The individuality of Dionysus makes me original, it feeds my creative side. It makes my art mine. While the analytical side to Apollo helps keep me from excess. It helps to moderate and balance my intuition and reason. So that I may not fall again, but be successful in all areas of life.

Life is full of cycles and learning to balance the scales will bring us closer to leading a fulfilling life. This is why I believe it is urgent that we know ourselves, our limits and how to stimulate some chaos… it gives order a reason to be.

Works Cited:
Co-Operative Inquiry: Research into the Human Condition, by John Heron

A Little Death & Duality @ Fame Chicago

seven n seven  Please Stand By

la sucia

seulement vous

This past weekend a new restaurant, Fame, opened in the Chicago neighborhood Wicker Park. I was asked to submit some work for the opening. These are the 4 that grace some of those walls. These are an extension of the Duality series I’ve been working on for the past few years. I always imagine killing off one of my egos. This set has been a lot of fun, super creative and dark. I’ll be posting the rest as they come to life. Here are some links to the restaurant, if you are in Chicago…. stop by!

Link 1

Link 2

Link 3