Monday, September 5, 2016
SELF CARE SLOW DEATH
To be entirely honest, this image didn't necessarily come together as I wanted it to. The techniques I used to attain a certain aesthetic simply don't entirely allow the meaning to cohere in the "obvious" way that I might have wanted it to (on the one hand, as the readings have suggested, the relative openness or slipperyness of the image within its fields of signification was a strategy used by ACT UP and other activist organizations; on the other, I'm not sure my image uses this as intentionally or provocatively as ACT UP). So even if, in my appraisal, the image isn't so successful, it warrants explaining what I was trying to do technically and otherwise.
Like Jennifer, I was interested in using the .gif image format. The technical requirements and cultural norms around GIFs allow for a different kind of (re)production, circulation, and reception than, say, a print or even video container formats. For instance, they appear in social media (like Facebook) differently, always and already playing before your eyes (admittedly, Facebook, for instance, allows videos to auto-play now as well). In their jitteriness, it could also be said that they call attention to themselves and their self-production in ways different than video. I'm sure more could be said about GIFs in these respects.
I'm also personally interested in glitch aesthetics/ethics, particularly in the random outcomes that occur. Reductively, glitches occur when software and technology are asked or ask themselves to be used in ways that their makers disallowed or never imagined. For this project, I was particularly interested in playing with the hexcode and iFrames of the videos. iFrames contain the image data of a video file, whereas pFrames are predictive frames that cue a video player to the motion of pixels across the screen. With the deletion of iFrames, all that's left is pFrames--or the abstract movement of the image without any record of the image itself. In this case, what it allowed (and what is, unfortunately, difficult to see) is how in the cut to the cigarettes, the/my body remains mapped onto the cigarette itself and is burned with it. The play with hexcode allowed for the effect of what is known as a pixel sort (it can be seen as the flickering horizontal streaks across the screen that causes the 'disintegration' of the image). Aesthetically, it allows for an already there disintegration that precedes the complete disintegration of the cigarette and the pixel sort of the image more generally.
As for the content of the image, I was interested in providing an intervention into 'liberal' or 'mainstream' notions of 'self care' and the 'self,' 'selves,' and 'care' that it circumscribes. Self care seems like an idea and practice that's floating around all kinds of places, whether in activism (radical self care) or in work places (take care of yourself so that you can produce more), among other spaces. Its an image that was provoked by statistics on the disproportionate rate of smoking among people who identify as LGBT, by as much as 70%. It's an image that might ask you to think about the gendering, sexualization, and racialization of care and 'feminine labor'; the relationship of (self) care and consumption; (self) care and (self) destruction, both personal, and social, political, and strategic; the histories of tobacco and what is required of human and nonhuman laborers to produce it; and others.