SPENCERROWELL

Session XVIII (Ibid.)

Like being encroached by wax, I like the mystery of what it - the wax - actually is, and also what it covers up. Me without a face, over interpreted, over seen. As if going back in time!! To some of the echoes of earlier times. The words seem to be there, but perhaps it over-eggs the meaning until the original ‘me’ disappears into a waxy cataract.

A story is starting to come together, in the bringing-together of many pieces. Although I don’t actually know what the story is. Once again the blurred or ‘faceless’ face, suggesting there was perhaps no face or identity. So am I saying, something happened which threatened annihilation, but then it went into reverse and something was salvaged - it was damaged and is stuck together with damaged, torn bits of other experiences? This shredding was destructive, what survived has colour and life and warmth. And so we have warmth and coolness, juxtaposed on the two sides. So - again something about bits that didn’t start out together, being assembled.

Something about identity, sense of self? The protector/persecutor: the shredding experience persecuted the subject, but allowing growth. Perhaps the subtext is, to weave something whole I must draw several threads in - threads from earlier sessions.

Session I (Ibid.)

I am looking for an answer in a very bleak, dream-like state. As the project begins a glimmer of some sort of hope; but it seems an agonising one. These memories, of looking again and again at the same thing with the hope that this time something will be resolved, that an answer would be found, that it will appear ‘just this time’, this thing of value. There is a strong sense of stuck-ness[sic], of repetition. Something unremembered, something lost that can only lead to endless compulsive searching and never quite be put into words. There is also a time pressure, something needs to be remembered, but there’s a block that means it might never be allowed to come out. Perhaps something too terrible to be uttered. And a sense of boredom too, a hatred of being in this position, a place of endless searching without hope. It is hard to bring out, trying to get an understanding of past issues and bring them into the light, something that seems quite intangible. I am looking into my own psyche quite intently however something is to be left behind.

Could this suggest feelings of worthlessness?

A worry that this, in fact, is not a safe place that it can be overcome, not be swallowed up. No suggestion that the contents might be forbidden or dangerous or unconquerable. The process makes an interesting circular relationship, like transference/counter-transference, my different ways of experiencing a caregiver or different aspects of relationships, either with the self or other/others. What is this searching? Why does this search need to be seen by an observer? Perhaps, regardless of how hard I look, it will never quite be enough for me. I am resigned to the fact that the reader will always leave without the answer. Without the true insight into what this and what I truly mean. Will you really look at what I want you to look at?

Session II (Ibid.)

Shame. Maybe I want to be left alone. I have something to say to myself, but in private. This is a very public undressing with my observers as an audience, through a display of self-hatred and being seen in a distressed state, a hatred of a big bit of myself where a part feels so much shame in all of this exhibiting in such a way. A struggle between two (or three?) extreme sides of myself. A strong part of me wants my observers to look away, stop looking, I am revolting against the vain, shamed side of myself. But this reaction re ects uncertainty about going through this process. This is quite the opposite of making up. I try to shock, threatening the project - by getting rid of the observers. I am unsure about this project. It is dangerous. I do not trust that you will stay with me and I think a very ancient part of me doesn’t want you to stay with me. his suggests vulnerability, something about being stripped right back longing to be nourished, even though involuntarily the rejecting of it. There is something disturbing in the combination of vulnerability, resignation and pain and also perhaps isolation. The suggestion of a lack of mirroring, a rejection the mother’s milk, or perhaps the ‘feed’ was poisonous or unpalatable.

Although the session suggests I do have ambivalent feelings, about self-hate and a wanting to get rid of part of the self, however, what is said is full of light. There is beauty, but also a sense of disturbance and anxiety with this process. It suggests raw, strong feelings. Something about a struggle with powers beyond my control. Perhaps it is hard for me to reconcile aspects of myself.

Something is coming out as language, the process is horrible and painful, yet I am doing something positive. Is this perhaps about my experience of therapy, a spewing out of words and feelings in the work. Or is it about creativity? There is something within which cannot be accepted and got out, but when it comes out, it is beautiful.

Does this suggest power through creativity?

Session VI (Ibid.)

I feel this is between me and my camera, me and photography. No one else should be there. I spit the light, again like ejecting something away, out, out of me. This light, this way of communicating.

I suppose this is what I cannot do without; dependent on it, like food. But then doesn’t the light itself spoil the possibility of expressing what is really there and what is most important? The darkness. (Not true darkness, but something at the edge of light), it seems to illuminate something more relevant. Without light there is no representation, without light there is no audience. Maybe that’s what’s important. But then it is impossible to get away from both entirely.

There is a feeling of uncertainty, because it is hard to be sure, perhaps there are two different faces, one is distorted, it is hard to tell. I see two ways of communicating my experience - one speaks, the other doesn’t, it feels that there is a very important piece of communication being made by these two things, but not one that I can work with together therapeutically, con icting truths; or is it about trying to work out what the truth is?

Session IX (Ibid.)

I remind myself of something exciting, a childish excitement of something vague; another take on reality, the opening of another world, something more to explore than the usual. An other, the faceless other, my features removed - that this whole project is a view of my head! However, this head wants to be the head of an other, someone not known, a stranger, giving nothing away, both mysterious and a mystery. As a self-portrait this is a mystery. It reminds me of childhood citement, a faceless, psychotic dreaming, where familiar faces become alien and hostile. Another world; very beautiful, but I cannot breathe there. Perhaps indicating things hold together on the outside more easily than on the inside.

I have sought terms of reference, ways to live, mirroring within books, but my features are blurred, a turning away from something that cannot be faced. Re ections of re ections in the mirrors that would in principle, go on in nitely. So something keeps happening, a cycle being repeated, with perhaps no way of changing. There is no face-on contact. Something too dreadful to look at, or does it re ect feelings of my isolation, or is it again, about feelings of shame, of being owned by someone or something.

Session X (Ibid.)

I am in the dark most of the time, feeling useless without light - or maybe something else without light? Or underground with some light, relying on what little there is to see. A sense of suspension, being in a world which does not give me the air I need, where I am not seen and cannot be heard, suggesting a state of being alive and sentient, but in an awful, paralysing suspension, a muted voice, communication through non-communication. I am frozen over - seeing only in particular circumstances.

Trapped in an element where I cannot breathe; frozen, unable to move, but still conscious because my eyes make contact. So again, two elements which cannot easily co-exist, the ‘speaking’ of an experience where there is a close relationship yet being in the dynamic where I cannot live and speak at the same time, one is damaging for the other.

Session XIV (Ibid.)

The reader expects to see me somewhere, but am I there? I’m a dark, without colour, something of a terrifying emergence; something timely, monolithic, destroying. I want to move on to the next session.

Things are not as they rst appear, then. I’m not really engaged in this session. Irritated. It is not symmetrical. Perhaps I am repeating my experience of bringing something precious to be admired and there being no interest. Or of using a medium such as art as a language to try to say something, but having it dismissed, I have the mother who cannot hear - or see.

Session XIX (Ibid.)

I’m disconcerted, the more I look at this gap between my parts, the more revolting it seems. I’m not sure this is what I want my audience to see, something nasty is staring back at me. Hidden. Leaving something behind - my unconscious perhaps? this preoccupation with the past - trying to becoming part of the real world, something sensible and healthy is happening, but something else is discarded in that process. Would the project, exist without the viewer (the readers and I?)? Not in the same way, certainly, there would be no words. It starts to be clear that this is a dialogue. Or should that be trialogue, something Oedipal.

Session XXIV (Ibid.)

So this is the end. Finally trying to represent something and nally losing it. I wanted to say something timely for the end of the project, about the end of history/memory or even the end of photography. My death of photography. Perhaps accepting as a photographer, but ultimately impotent. In the end, to admit that photography is useless. Is that the point? Does this mean photography is dead to me? This search, this conclusion from the beginning? If so, what’s use is the looking? There is nothing more to say and have decided that this point - this preconceived rough point in time would be the end. If ‘it’ wouldn’t be the end, if there was a shadow of something else that hasn’t been ‘said’, but I am unsure what ‘it’ would that look like? What does it look like, I’m interested (Db., XXIV. x.), in knowing what’s beyond the end. It would be nice to go somewhere from here.

Have I escaped, got out of this nursery/childhood environment where these experiences, whatever they were, happened? Has some essence of me been annihilated? Or have I been disowned, by the family that this project is about? Do I want to forget about them and pretend they had never existed? Did I want to erase - or alternatively, carry them around with me? Who did the removing? And it hardly needs saying that an absence says as much, if not more, than a presence. This controlling force that had to be left behind.

Perhaps unconsciously this picture, that I am saying that the picture has to speak for itself.