Table of Content
Aristotle’s Concept of Essence
Representation of the Self
Concept of Family
Master of Arts Art Exhibition
Representation and Reality of the Self in Art
5. Master of Arts Art Exhibition
title of my M.A. exhibition that was produced in conjunction with
this written thesis was “brokenFIXED: (de)constructing the
Image of the Self”. The exhibition was presented at California
State University, Long Beach Art Office Gallery, September 9-14,
2001. The exhibition featured, as a conceptual multimedia installation,
twelve drawings and a computer monitor which screened my interactive
inspiration for my work on the installation was the concept of computational
self, which defines self as an information system that could be
reproduced by the computer. However, upon completion of the art
project and art exhibition, I arrived at the conclusion that representation
of computational self is only one of the possible interpretations
of my self-portraits.
the intended subject of my art project was to present the computational
self, I decided to use duality -- the fundamental characteristic
of the digital world -- as a crucial element in the structure of
the installation. There were two media of artistic expression -
drawings and interactive web design. Two pencil studies were used
to create all drawings - one self-portrait facing audience with
outstretched arms, other turning back with raised hands. The installation
of drawings was symmetrically balanced on two sides, set left and
right of the computer screen. All the drawings were the same size,
but half were vertical and half were horizontal, install to alternate
with one another. I also framed drawings two by two as diptychs,
and I included two definitions of the self in the exhibited webs
site. I hoped that viewers would perceive the work as references
to a conceptual interpretation of the computational self as opposed
to making specific references to a physical form.
to create a multimedia installation inspired by the concept of computational
self, which included a web site designed as interactive self-portrait.
rollover, Flash introduction and Flash web site. Computer applications
I used for creation of the web site were Macromedia Dreamweaver
4, Macromedia Flash 5 and Adobe Photoshop 6.
Macromedia Dreamweaver 4. The interactive rollover contained two
to swap images on mouse rollover. The original image which appears
when the page is loaded was developed from a digital slide of my
self-portrait painted in oil on canvas. I created a second image,
in which the painting appears to be shattered, in Adobe Photoshop
6. The two images were set up to replace one another in reaction
to the mouse. The self-portrait seems to break apart when the user
rolls the mouse over it and repairs when the user moves the mouse
out of the area of the image. The intention was to illustrate the
title of the art exhibition: “brokenFIXED: (de)constructing
the Image of the Self”.
created the animated introduction and interactive web site in Macromedia
Flash 5, the multimedia web design software that applies animation
and sound. The Flash introduction had four scenes. The first scene
had a countdown and animation of a circle which transforms into
the image of the eye, followed by a zoom to the pupil of the eye,
and black out.
In the second scene, two definitions of the self slowly appeared
across the screen. I included Dennett’s and Wittgenstein’s
definitions of the self because I wanted to demonstrate that the
self can have different, even opposite, meanings. The first definition
was written by Daniel Dennett:
the strangest and most wonderful constructions in the whole animal
world are the amazing, intricate constructions made by the primate,
Homo sapiens. Each normal individual of this species makes a self.
Out of its brain it spins a web of words and deeds, and, like the
other creatures, it doesn’t have to know what it’s doing;
it just does it. This web protects it, just like the snail’s
shell, and provides it a livelihood, just like spider’s web...
second definition was written by Ludwig Wittgenstein:
philosophical self is not the human being, not the human body, or
the human psyche, with which psychology deals, but rather the metaphysical
subject, the limit of the world – not a part of it. 
third scene of the introduction had reproductions of four self-portraits
fading in, resizing and fading out, one after the other. Two of
the reproductions were created from digital slides of my paintings,
and two from digital slides of my drawings. To enable resizing of
slides without losing the quality of the reproduction, I converted
raster images into vector shapes.
the last part of the introduction, the animated title “brokenFIXED”
appeared in front of the rotating images of eye, ear, lips and nose.
With the sound of broken glass, the animated title breaks into three
parts and fades out. At the end of the introduction ActionScript
automatically uploads the new Flash movie with the interactive web
Flash web site was created as an electronic self-portrait. It has
an interactive home page and five interactive subcategories. The
illustration for the home page was a self-portrait drawn in Flash,
based on the same pencil study I used to develop the exhibited ink
drawings. The illustration contained four dragable movie clips containing
drawings of the eye, nose, lips and ear. The dragable movie clips
enabled visitors to move features of the self-portrait within the
browser window, and therefore break apart, rearrange or reconstruct
the self-portrait. In that way visitors had a chance to find out
how much they could distort the image without losing the sense that
they were looking at my self-portrait.
to the subcategories were illustrated with the copies of the same
drawings of parts of the same self-portrait. The image of the eye
was an illustration for the link to the subcategory of “Drawing”;
the image of the ear for “E-mail”; the image of the
lips for “Statement”; the image of the hand for “Resume”;
and the image of the nose for the thesis (entitled “brokenFixed”).
web site also featured music and sound effects. Two music samples
were playing during the introduction, to enhance the visitor’s
experience. Additional sound effects were playing on mouse rollovers
over links in the interactive web site. Music samples and sound
effects were provided by the Croatian electronic band Injury.
computer generated art was central to the exhibition, I wanted to
create hand drawn images that could appear as computer generated.
Because my goal was to create a multimedia installation that combined
traditional and new media, I wanted drawings in the exhibition to
function as sequential art , in which all drawings have to be
perceived as a part of the whole. To suggest this reading to the
visitors I decided to create twelve drawings, hoping that the number
twelve would prompt them to perceive individual drawings as a part
of a whole. To further unify the installation, I used symmetrical
composition. The computer monitor was set in the center, with three
diptychs on each side. Alternating horizontal and vertical orientation
of the framed drawings generated a rhythmic pattern.
method I used to unify the installation was the repetition of the
parts of the same two figures in the drawings and on the screen
of computer monitor. Repetition of the image with slight variations
is the technique used in creating animations, so it was consistent
with the web animation featured in the interactive web site, which
was an integral part of the installation.
twelve ink drawings were developed from two self-portraits drawn
in pencil on paper, originally created from direct observation,
by looking at my reflection in the mirror. The pencil drawings were
sketched as a combination of anatomical and geometrical schemata
for the representation of my body. One drawing featured my figure
facing audience with outstretched arms, the other, with back turned
and hands raised to the shoulders. The pencil drawings served as
a starting point for the ink drawings.
create exhibited drawings, I used various pens with black and white
ink on Bristol vellum paper size 19 inches by 24 inches. I chose
to exhibit line drawings, because they exposed the underlying structure
for organizing visual information, which would be hidden by further
development of shading, texture and color. I created twelve new
images from the two original pencil studies. I would start a drawing
from a previously sketched thumbnail, but I would not trace the
model exactly. I would allow space for expressive improvisation
which resulted in subtle changes of in the finished drawing. In
ink, I traced and developed images originally drawn with pencil,
carefully re-arranging the composition, negative space and repeated
pattern of the figure. On a few drawings I left out parts of the
pencil study, creating figures without a face, or a face without
a body. On a few other drawings, I repeated the same figure to create
a sense of cloning. On one drawing I repeated the face as an abstract
end result of this method was that I was not able to recognize the
represented figure as my physical likeness. Since I perceived the
drawings as self-portraits, I realized that the empty negative space
was as much a representation of self, as were the figures. This
lead me to realization that the meaning of the self-portrait is
not contained in the image, but is created as a part of the interpretation.
conclusion was later confirmed by visitor’s interpretations
of my self-portraits. Various visitors claimed that the exhibited
drawings represented: universal self, family resemblance of individual
characteristic, essential self and its aspects, Jungian process
of individualization, cyborgs, “information highways”,
sculptures made from wire, etc. In my opinion, every visitor interpreted
my self-portraits in accordance with their own world-view, even
when they were interpreting the nature of the represented self.
This confirmed my realization that representation of the self is
a function of the interpretation of art. This served as a starting
point for my philosophical research in comparing two contradictory
interpretations of the self.
Daniel Clement Dennet, Consciousness Explained (Boston: Little,
Brown and Company, 1991.), 416.
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (New York, New
York: Humanities Press, 1966.)
Scott McCloud, Understanding Comics: The invisible art (New York,
New York: HarperPerennial, 1994), 5-21.