The Dented Beetle.
Here is my final major project, I have also posted the statement below, should anyone be interested enough to read it.
“I can’t tell whether I have developed a good understanding of art, or schizophrenia.”
'The Dented Beetle' focuses around the perception of reality and how this can be distorted, especially within individuals suffering from schizophrenia and the delusional beliefs that are often present within this mental condition.
I initially looked at the work created by individuals suffering from schizophrenia, looking at the narratives created by Adolf Wölfi and Henry Darger, as well as being particularly interested in the flying machines created by Gustav Mesmer. I created a small body of work around ‘The God Machine’ but then extended this into creating an installation after realising the potential an installation has on suspending the viewer in a seemingly alternate reality.
This installation is designed to replicate the living and working space of someone diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. The body of work is focused around ‘The God Machine’, a nonsensical machine created by James Rogers ‘the inventor’. Using this machine as a focus point, I have worked onto many different materials to show this obsession with purging the mind of how and why the machine works. I have used a lot of different processes to try and communicate the idea that this individual doesn’t adhere to conventions typically followed by formal artists. A lot of the mark marking takes on a very obsessive quality, as well as some of it being nonsensical or illegible to force a barrier between the viewer and the work, showing the idea that this ‘artist’ operates outside of ‘normal’ reality. Within the work I have made a lot of references to the grandiose delusion, mirrored-self misidentification delusion, as well as referencing the possibility of me developing this schizophrenic-like obsession with this project.
A key notion present in schizophrenia is the inability to differentiate between what is reality, and what is a product of the imagination. Trying to manipulate the viewer into taking this constructed space to be a reality was the main difficulty within the project. I researched into schizophrenia to deepen my understanding of it, so that I could begin to adopt some traits present within this condition and hopefully convey this through my work. This helped me get into the mind of both the schizophrenic and the viewer, but at times I found it hard to differentiate between the two.
From the outside, the installation is obviously constructed, but from the inside it is designed to replicate the reality of a living space inhabited by a schizophrenic. I feel this idea of being able to see it isn’t real from the outside but believing it once you’re inside, is similar to how we may view such delusional individuals in comparison to how they view themselves.
Creating an installation has been a huge change for me, but I feel it offers more in terms of its power to manipulate the viewer. I have enjoyed exploring the themes of reality and identity and I would like to continue exploring these themes in my future work, as well as exploring the boundaries of what is considered ‘illustration’.