Performing the space and yourself in the space
In Finnish language there is a verb ESITTÄÄ. It means at least three things; to perform, to pretend and to present.
When entering or arriving in a certain space and especially space that is constructed by human in actual physical material level or by connecting to it some culturally significant values and meanings I get very self aware of my own presence in it. I instantly in a way attempt precept my manner of being in the space and as a part of the space. I start to monitor my behavior, the effect of the space in it and whether my actions and manners affect someway to the space and the possible other living beings in it. By this event of monitoring and being aware of my own manner of presence my being in the space becomes a sort of performance. The situation holds within it the same attributes as the performer such as actor on the stage holds while performing; the monitoring ones presence in the space, monitoring the effects of ones actions in the space, monitoring the affects of the space in ones behavior, acknowledging ones intentions and manners while acting in the space. By these processes the situation becomes totally performative and it is almost impossible to avoid ones own actions and manners of performing them to become a somewhat deliberate representation of ones persona, identity, intentions and the relation of these to the space and its attendants at hand.
Many times spaces are deliberately designed to evoke certain kind of behavior, actions, and manner of being present. In some cases I personally find this kind of propositions coming from the space intimidating and causing anxiety. I may feel contradiction with the way I see my self as a person and the attributes that the space expects from a person being in it. But if we try to reduce this phenomena in to its origins, as a most simplistic explanation of what happens in the first place, I could claim that it is the physical body that enters the space. According to Deborah Lupton the so called body/self of the modern people in western societies is seen highly individual and autonomous, always maintaining distance between other individuals. Lupton says that this has been a product of a cultural change caused for example by the renaissance, the enlightenment, industrial revolution and the emergence of capitalism. On the contrary during the middle ages the body was not so much privatized and discrete, and it was more in contact to the physical world surrounding it. And as she describes the body in the middle ages undestood "essentially porous, allowing a constant interchange of the elements between inside and outside the body." (Lupton 1998, 64-65) This idea of seeing ones body as a restricted individual area, detached from the world outside of it arouses the suggestion that the spaces such as buildings, halls, yards and such are in a way autonomous individuals that carry within them a certain qualities that are detached from their surroundings. This way you could think that the entering of the human body to the certain space is a interaction between two separate individuals, but if you would look at from the perspective of more porous concept of human body you see the space and the body forming together some kind of whole and the individuals idea of ones body/self being part of the space, with the space, without the contradiction of suggested attributes.
Roland Barthes writes in his book Barthes on Barthes that "you are the only person who can never see yourself but only as an image.” (Barthes 1982, ...) He talks how when looking yourself through the mirror or by the picture your always seeing just the representation made by the camera without the actual communication with the other person.
He also writes above one of the pictures on the book, that he never saw himself as looking like this. (Barthes 1982, ...) It's interesting how the idea of Body/self that Lupton mentioned works in this case especially. How I understand it is that Barthes is attempting to see the idea of a individual person actualizing by the interaction with the other persons, and how the image can never capture this actual "actualness" of the individual. But at the same time he suggests that there is some individual qualities and attributes within his body/self that is restricted in him and can only be observed by another individual yet which are not part of the interaction clearly parts of his restricted persona. This makes me ask whether Barthes's statement holds within it an attempt to believe that there is something in the individual person to see, that actually may not exist? Is there anything else to see thatn the image? Can the other presumed individual actually see something more, or different than the person viewing the image taken from one? Or is this just the question of the ideas we hold upon our selves and do we have an intention to attach to our selves some kind of attributes and qualities that do not actually exist, or that exist in the scenes and places we construct with other beings and spaces, but not by our selves?
This is a video shoot in the Letonniemi Nature reserve in Oulu, close to the place where I live.
What I feel this image shows to myself is the manner I place myself in the woods and as a part of the woods. It signifies the approach I take towards the forest and what I want from it.
The aesthetics of this kind of image is a sort of a portrait, the focus is clearly on me as a person as a body placed on the forest ground.
The forest it self works as a something like an crop or a set to fulfill the performative representation of myself in the image.
As Erwin Gofman writes about the idea of "Front" meaning the act that individual performs to the audience. the Front has multiple parts in it and one is the setting as the that contains physical objests etc. that in a way enable the perfotrmance the person is putting on. (Gofman, 32-33)
The forest in this case works as a set of my front that I'm presenting here.
I feel that I'm kind of trying to lend some attributes and meanings from the forest and attempting to connect them to my appearance in order to create a certain effect. I want to show myself as a sort of person that is in the woods as being in the woods would ad some kind of value or element into my persona.