One of our core modules this semester is titled "Politics of Subjectivity & Identity" and as a part of this, we were offered an entirely open brief. We could submit drawings, paintings, audio, video, any media and form basically, to argue and explore the idea of self-identity (particularly our own) using the theorists studied on the course so far. This also needs to be accompanied by a four hundred word critical micro essay, included below:
Notes on my ‘Selective Construction’
- ‘According to Darwin’s Origin of Species, it is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself.’
It is my firm belief that we all – throughout the course of our lives - construct identities based (primarily) on the level of cultural difference to which we are normally exposed. That we self-construct, be that consciously or otherwise, to better meet the conditions of our environment.
At the core, I wish to argue that the issue in exploring my identity relies largely on the problem of double consciousness. In that, from a very young age I have been acutely aware of the issues of cultural difference and the problem of identity. I owe this to my mixed heritage and my exposure to two seemingly polarized cultures attempting to coexist within the same cultural frame.
Instead of favouring one cultural identity over another, or indeed, shunning one over another, I opted to craft my own. I did this with a great sense of entitlement and liberation, borrowing from any culture or sect of thought that I considered interesting. My justification for this came from a sense of ‘lacked origin’. I began borrowing religious philosophy from India, interpersonal and work-ethic philosophies from China, mannerisms from the realm of English gentrification and so on. I found that my ‘otherness’ was not, as I had once thought, an illumination of difference, but a means of cultural infiltration. I feel as though my ‘mask’ (in Fanon’s sense of the term) behaves much like a transitions lens. If subjected to a particular instance of cultural intensity, I am capable of adjusting, as I have a catalogue of cultural interest and understanding from which to draw. Granted, this openness came as the result of many trials, some communicative and emotive, others observational and analytic. At the root of all things however, I feel it is the most formative element in the creation of what I consider to be (what at least, may be described) as ‘my identity’.
In this response I relied heavily on symbolism, wishing to experiment with several visual techniques to represent the range of influences that impact the direction and nature of an individual’s construction (represented through the application of popular quotations onto canvas.) The first part of the video in which the stencils are being physically cut by hand, represents the intentionality of the construction. The music, a fusion of progressive rock and what is often called ‘world music’, offers a combination of western rock instruments with eastern scales emphasising the presence of the dilemma of double consciousness, despite my rather pragmatic reaction to it. The physical cutting of the stencils, the blank canvas, and the time lapse all represent the construction of an identity as a deliberate and laborious endeavour. The blank canvas attempted to symbolise the sense of lacking full cultural distinction, of lacking a cultural identity whilst still feeling physically entire.