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The transformative mirror: contemplating the self as an emergent being through active reflection
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This creative-production project is framed as an active reflection on the process of self-transformation. This process has been developed through a personal investigation into the concepts of the self as an emergent and reflected being. It is communicated through an exploratory narrative divided into two sections. The first and primary section is the exhibition. This is staged in three parts. Part one contains artefacts relating to the development of the main exhibits and the system of heuristic search used to produce them. Part two presents an animation marking a turning point in the journey. Part three is a telematic installation divided into two parts. The installation is designed to translate the research into an intersubjective experience through open narrative. The second section is the exegesis; staged in four parts. Part one is the introduction. Part two describes the project methodology with reference to specific processes. Part three develops a critical framework by building a technical language relating to the metaphors of the mirror and the garden. This is then applied to an analysis of the creative disciplines and practitioners influencing the project. Part four is the concluding statement. The project tests and develops hypotheses from two theoretical perspectives emerging from heuristic search. The artefacts result from a synthesis of these perspectives through a personalised visual investigation translated into multimedia experiences which encourage audience members to engage in their own process of active reflection. The first perspective conceptualises identity as being constructed through the reflected gaze of others. This concept will be referred to as a reflected being, or reflected self, throughout the thesis. The metaphor of the mirror acts as a structural device to develop a telematic installation which translates the universal aspects of my personal journey into an intersubjective experience. The second perspective apprehends identity emerging from a constantly transforming interplay of forces external and internal to an impermanent body. This concept will be referred to as an emergent being, or emergent self, throughout the exegesis. The metaphor of the garden acts as a method to develop the idea of an emergent being and design the avatars in the installation. This perspective is central to the philosophy of the project, which is focused on the process of self-transformation. Transformation of a biodegradable self-portrait acting as host-garden to cycles of vegetable and insect life was recorded and used as a conceptual study for the design of the telematic environment. Using this synthetic model, potentials for collaborative transformation of a participant’s self-image, observed from the reflected point of view of the ‘Other’ are tested to investigate the idea of the self as an emergent being.