This conceptual self-portrait explores various themes including self-surveillance and self-censorship, mortality and rebirth/reincarnation, karma and cause and effect, direct and indirect self-harm, predictable unpredictability, internalized conformity, breaking patterns, paranoia and the knowing of the higher self.
From the covering of my face and breast in the original photo, to the cropping of the bottom of the final piece to avoid shadowbanning for showing too much of the wrong parts of skin, these themes have even shaped the artwork itself. Just as they have shaped my entire life.
Originally intended to focus on karma, cause and effect, and the way that even actions of self-defense can come back to hurt us, I first conceptualized this piece in September/October 2022 with the working title “what goes around comes around.”
Also in mind was the question posed by Alan Watts: “Do you do it or does it do you?”
By March 2023, as I reread George Orwell’s “1984,” I was further inspired by its cover art (red, with a bold eye) as well as the idea of constant surveillance – and the internalization of Big Brother.
Here, the surveillance is not just by an external Big Brother, but also by the self. Big Brother is watching you, yes. But Big Brother is also within you, becoming indistinguishable from the higher self, watching and policing one’s own thoughts and actions.
The flashing third eye represents the higher self’s constant presence, even when we are disconnected from its true vision. The merging of Big Brother with the higher self highlights the dangers of internalized conformity, the importance of maintaining a balance between self-surveillance and self-compassion, and the difficulty of differentiating between paranoia and reality.
The neverending scrolling of my body, along with the distorted and noisy checker background, suggests we must learn through recognizing and breaking patterns.
Another layer of "shooting myself" may also reference shooting self-portrait photography and the balancing act of creating and sharing art as a highly censored body. And another layer still beneath that: triggering myself with my own art.
Repeatedly finding myself in the line of fire.
Are you holding the gun or is the gun holding you?
Photo of me, shot by me on my iPhone, edited with Adobe Photoshop and After Effects.