‘Ontology of the accident’ Catherine Malabou.

The ontology of the accident.

This is an installation piece I developed as part of my working through language and visual ideas about broken models of the self. The work is inspired by Catherine Malabou's book titled the 'ontology of the accident'. In the process of developing themes for this part of the module I have increasingly moved toward ideas of the self being represented as metaphorical fragments.

I brought to the module my own questioning about what a self (any self) might constitute and if indeed one could question this idea of an independent self existing at all. I found this a discussion very relevant to modern philosophical thinking particularly where it was conversing with contemporary neuroscience. If an independent self exists, beyond stored memory and experience, such that we are not just mere vessels for individual events and surrounding culture then how does brain injury, disease and severe psychological trauma separate this self we perceive as uniquely us so easily. A life of feeling, value and belief can disappear within a moment and often leaves not a trace of any previous self at all. Our certainty of producing a definitive self portrait in essence becomes an accidental snapshot of a fragile transitory moment and in a sense becomes a reflection of a collective accumulation of cultural rather than an aspect of our uniqueness.

I am finding through my own installation pieces and sculptural ideas that my approach to the module has moved toward a particular idea of my own self portrait as one of a broken biography (or the recognition of that possibility) as Catherine Malabou describes it in the 'Oncology of the accident'. This is a complete dislocation of being and remembering, a chasm has opened between what one understood as their former self and who they are now. Malabou speaks of this as not only a process familiar to a diseased brain but also one whereby a previous self might be lost through deep psychological trauma or mental collapse such that notions of previous identity disappear completely.

The elements in this piece speak to the moment after the previous self collapses. The ripped pages from a book, the linear narrative gone. The freezer an accumulation of ice representing the frozen mind, with the old projector (memory) just a blank flickering devoid of previous imagery. This is a self portrait that becomes an acknowledgement of similarity within a 'real' connection to an unconscious collective. A portrait that seeks to bypass the individual ego which assumes a dominion separate from any process. The ego makes us gods and the self portrait in art has always been one of self reflective individuality. I wanted to challenge the idea one can ever really make a true self portrait by acknowledging the idea of the collapse.

I am exploring myself in the pieces I am developing and finding a comparable explanation in some modern writing in the combined fields of psychology, philosophy and neuroscience that present a reasonable sequence of logic about the things I personally feel. I am conscious one can always find evidence to support things they find themselves pre disposed to but I think it is clearly important to evidence a wider school of thinking compatible with one's own perspectives when one is developing an external artistic language.

 

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