Friday, 30 December 2011


The title of my Alevel art project. Though I think much better in written terms, so I could really do with getting my thoughts down here before I attempt to move onto some actual art type things.

So, I began by looking at 'growth' and then distortion; as in, the opposing force of natural growth being people unnaturally distorting themselves. I'm looking the why and the how, particularly with regards to culture. Why is it that in some cultures, people distort themselves so as to go along with their culture whereas in western cultures people distort to rebel and stand out. Take for example, tribal neck stretching in Africa. This began once as a cultural display of wealth, people adding rings tightened around their necks gradually throughout their lives solely to go along with the cultural tradition. Although, in recent years this has instead become a source of income for the tribes, as they are almost demanded by local governments to persue the distortion to attract tourism. Whatever the reason, it is an extreme distortion and pressure to place the human body under.

Compare this with western culture- obsessed with plastic surgery, piercings tatoos; and i'm sure many more ways in which we change ourselves. However, this form of distortion seems to be more about a need to stand out, and let our 'individuality' stand out. It seems that in a society so guided by media and materialism that we seem to view people mainly on appearances. We see someone with piercings and tatoos and build up an image of rebellion, and perhaps consider them to be someone who conciously declines social norms. Why is it therefore, that we feel the need to do this; and change or distort ourselves to do so? And what is the better cause- Change to conform, or change to stand out.

Ultimately I feel it comes down to how we value one another, and how much we value personality over appearance. Or better yet, how SOCIETY encourages us to value these things. Do we change ourselves on the outside to change and even hide who we are on the inside? Perhaps we buy clothes, apply makeup, dye our hair, or get piercings and tatoos to create a facade of who we want to be. An opposing idea could instead be that we do infact like who we are, and so desperately want this to shine through in out appearance. I prefer this one. It's much more optimistic, and one that I consider that I do myself. We fashion ourselves on the outside to make damn sure that people know who we are on the inside. We accept that people make initial judgements, so we need to grab their attention and introduce ourselves aesthetically before we can do so personally. Whether this is the 'right way' is regardless- it is the necessary way, if we want to adhere the workings of this society.


  1. I really liked your thoughts on this. Being someone who has colored hair, tattoos, piercings, etc., I have often wondering the same thing..."why?" both western and other cultures.

    I don't know about anyone else, but for me it is not to fit in or to stand out, it is, as you concluded, to be myself. Regardless of what others think, this is who I am and for better or worse this is how I express that in a visual way.

    1. Thanks for reading, and commenting.

      I think your point is totally valid,and I guess some people do simply just like something, and go with it. I do the same (I have pink hair, because I like it). I just find it interesting that in other cultures, people don't feel the need to 'express themselves' in this way, and that people feel their personality itself is enough of an expression.

      Just a thought.

      Thanks for being one of the rare people who actally read my ramblings, I haven't bothered to hunt for followers as of yet :P