Layers

The self and the ego

Who I am

Who I was

Who I will be

where I am

Where I was

Where I am going

The self and the ego are entwined by memory and illusion. The memory of who you think you used to be, the memory of who you want to be. The illusion of who you used to be is based on the memories you hold onto, which are a mix of pop culture, photographs and stories people tell. The person you project is often the illusion of the person you wish to be. But it’s not usually the same person when you peel away all influences, layer after layer. The core. The self.

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Tapping into the human condition

I spent the last 10 years hiding away from people. I am awkward in social situations. I spent so much time alone thinking, that I forgot what it was like to connect to people. I may have even lost my empathy and compassion for people outside of my family. I’m not sure what happened to make me disconnect.

 

Now, all I think of is how I am going to turn my camera around and capture all the things about being human that I’ve been missing. How can I tap into humanity, connect with people again, on a whole new level.

All of these feelings I have are essential for empathizing with others. It’s basic emotions that bring people together… longing, love, pain.

If I had never experienced pain, would I have empathy? I f I had never been alone, would I know what it’s like to long? How can I use my past experiences to connect to people genuinely? How can I create a portrait of a human condition with the tools I have been given?

Then I wonder if all of this is out of some selfish need to feel relevant in the world, satisfying the unconscious.

What is really important to me now?

My son, my parents, my friends and their families. Teaching my son culture and humility, humbly. Helping people in need, not with money, with kindness and my two hands. Being genuine, real and not living through my ego. Building bridges and relationships with people. Being kind and having good intents..showing my son how to be transparent with his actions.

How can I use my own life experiences to bring awareness to causes that I hold close to my heart?

After speaking with Ed Kashi, something clicked. Was it his words or his tone? I think it was his genuine desire to understand my situation as we talked. He had questions to better understand me and where I was coming from. Then, he shut his mouth, and allowed me to speak. He listened. It was a moment in my world where I felt like someone was hearing my voice, I longed to be more like him… more human.

Finding my voice in photography has been a journey. Chasing my dreams, one after another… never giving up completely. I have had a very diverse path in getting here, and it’s taught me a lot about life, myself and relationships. I am learning to have the courage to let go and allow myself to enjoy the small moments along the way.

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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Art Making

I’ve been making more art these days. I have always enjoyed the hands on process. Finally I’m falling into my own niche with my photography. I used to think I wanted to be a commercial photographer, but in reality, that ship has sailed. Perhaps later in my career when I am a little more developed. For now, the photograph serves as a means to make art.

I decided to allow my creative process to develop on it’s own, stop forcing myself to do things I don’t really care for. Since I love to build things with my hands, I have been using mix media and collage work to share my inner workings, what I find beautiful. I feel like I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole and one thing is leading to another, no need to look up and try to figure out where I am.

In college, we called this the creative spiral. Every so often I would look into it, but never really dove in head first. Maybe dangled my legs over occasionally. Worried about landing on my feet. I have come to learn, it’s easier to just let go. After all, it is what it is. And it’s much easier this way.

Right now I’ve become enamored with this translucent pearly gold. I’ve always enjoyed gold leafing, but now I am playing with different mediums. The layering over a deep crimson red has pushed me down a different path, somewhere I’ve not been before. It’s rather intoxicating. The way the gold shimmers, the pearl plays on the refraction of light… bouncing around in the depth of the medium. It’s a beautiful thing up close.

All of these iridescent colors mixed with golds remind me of the Art Deco movement,  luxurious colors and materials, modern clean lines. I have always loved this era, the rebellion that came right before it. Pulling away from the garish, over stated highly ornamental designs of the past. Simplifying and reforming the perception of splendor and opulence.

Here’s something I’m working on, something that makes me smile and inspires me to continue my course in this sumptuous direction. It is reminiscent of religious art, the gold and as Ashley staed, the downward gaze. It really is a encouraging piece. It makes me impatient for my supplies to come in. Ahhh, but the wait is good for me. It’s a little torturing but gives me time to put my thoughts together.

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The Space Between

 

This body of work was created out of the need to express myself and where I am at now. My sadness and grief, over the loss of my friend, overwhelmed me at points. Causing me to wake up and see what I am doing as an artist, a parent and a photographer. I questioned myself in each of these areas. Creating a rift between my past and my present. Since this awakening, I’ve used my time to nurture my relationship with my son and with my art. Living each day in the present, trying very hard not to think about the future or the past.

I made the decision to place my Duality project on hold while I sort out my new direction in life. I continued to shoot myself, but decided it was time to shoot in the present mind frame. My transient life, so very temporary and delicate. Each emotion I have is contradicted by my environment, creating a new space of where I am and where I belong.

When I left Cali, I was dead set on living in New Orleans, near my best friend and in the city I left many years ago. I made the assumption that it was the same and I’d be able to take part in the art community to build a business. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stop the memories of my best friend flooding my mind each time I was in the city. So I stopped looking for my place there.

I began creating images based on the instability I was feeling. I wasn’t comfortable in the South, I wasn’t looking forward to living here. I started to create images that illustrated how I felt inside. I felt like I was in between, in transition from one life to another but no longer in either. It was this space that I created in order to make sense of my mind’s ramblings.

These days I’m trying to remember that the moment is more important than the past or the future. So often I get caught up with where I’ve been or trying to get to, I forget to stay consciously in the now. I forget to stop thinking. I forget to breathe. I forget to enjoy the moment, lengthen it for as long as possible.

This work is about the now, this space in my life. I was torn between my West coast life and the South. My mind was never still, always anticipating the future and how I was getting there. The more and more I was around my son, the more I realized I wanted to enjoy the moments we were having. I had to learn to quiet my mind, so that my son could enjoy our time. As a kid, there is only the now. They don’t think too far ahead and he can’t remember much of his short past.

This project has challenged me to shoot photography that represents who I am today. They are self portraits, created with double exposures. I shot images of myself and my environment, then combined them digitally. They express the transient qualities of seeing in between the moments, pausing to breathe. Over the Summer, I plan to become one with my medium format camera in order to continue the project in film.

The images I am presenting are the ones I find most cohesive, in line with my thoughts and each other. They blend together two perspectives, two places in time. The double exposure brings a plasticity that allows the mind to float back and forth in the picture plane. The senses are allowed to absorb the colors and the shapes, distracting the mind from straying away from now. Essentially, the images allow my mind to rest, lengthening the space between.

The progress I have made since I left California is great. Now, I have a group of images that have set the tone for the direction of the work. I have figured out what types of images I am blending and how to shoot for them. I’ve thought about what I want the audience to feel and have found it in the equivocal space.

By using tactile plasticity as a technique, I am creating a particular feeling. By blending images together, I can let the viewer’s mind play around the plane. The mind’s eye can move back and forth, in and out of the images. Seeing them separate and as a whole. The images distract the mind from intruding thoughts. The act of figuring out the two images gives the mind a break. No longer are the thoughts of tomorrow or yesterday clouding the mind. The only thing is the now, whats inside the picture plane. It’s a fun way to play with the eyes and the mind.

Being always in transition is hard. I am always worried about the future and sometimes depressed about the past. I get caught up in preparing myself for the next move, when I needed to just be in the now. I’m slowing down to see what these in between spaces have to offer for personal growth.

For the direction of the project, I am trusting myself and the process of evolution. As I shoot more and with film, I understand the aesthetics may change, but the subject and plasticity won’t. I will continue to shoot daily and create a data base of images to work with. I understand I use the cameras as tools to create art, express my ideas. So I will allow work to evolve and unfold, showing me the way.

Change is the Only Constant

I’ve never been stable, physically. I moved around all my life, itching for change. Instead of working against the grain, I am embracing it. I know I’ll never be one to settle. It’s not in me. I’ll always seek out enlightenment, knowledge, tools and adventures. It’s become more than a way of life, but a change in life. Accepting what I do naturally as a gift and using the travel time to draw out that non moment, the unconscious moment in between thoughts and actions. Breaking the cycle.

Duality: A Visual Essay

Here’s a mini essay about my Duality project. It’s been a challenge and a blessing. Through my project, I have done so much inter-personal work. It’s been an eye opener about myself and people around me. You really get to understand the human psyche and see through peoples actions and intentions. It’s left me feeling raw and humbled.

du·al·i·ty : the quality or state of having two parts

du·al·i·ty

noun \dü-ˈa-ləә-tē also dyü-\ : the quality or state of having two parts

Duality is my long term, photography project falling under the fine art genre. The intent is to create a series of self portraits, that speak to the viewer both visually and mentally. I intend the images to be reflective and reveal meaning behind the evolution of the “Self”.

     “I am conscious of myself and become myself only while revealing myself for another, through another, and with the help of another…”

~Bakhtin

In my own journey of becoming a self aware subject, I look into the works of 20th century Russian literary theorist, Mikhail Bakhtin. Bakhtin’s theory on self realization through the use of a another is key to giving meaning to ourselves and our art. As I produce my duality self identifying images, I have gotten to know myself better. Through playing multiple roles of myself, I can explore the meaning of this quote.

I hope you enjoy my images as much as I enjoyed the journey that brought them to life.

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.

Going back in time with Vietnam

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A five hour drive south of Saigon will land you in the heart of Vietnam’s Mekong Delta. The canals and waterways are a lifeline for the Vietnamese farmers. Their goods are carried to the floating markets via water. Hidden between thick jungle and a maze of canals you can find beautifully aged temples. The ruins and reminders of French architecture still haunt the land, what remains slowly crumbles back to the earth. A visually stunning country, filled with colorful, friendly people.

**All of the images on this site have been taken by Melody Hall and are copyright.

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