In this Final Assignment, we were tasked to create art based on social issues.
I brainstormed a few ideas and consulted with Harry.
Here are some of my ideas:
Issue 1. Mental health and social construct
Issue 2: Racism/Social inclusion/Ignorance
Issue 3: Mixed Marriages
Issue 4: Sexual Harassment on internet
PROCESS & REALISATION
Visual of Sound trapped in box in a dark room [sound of girl screaming, banging on the door, wind, crying].
Verdict: This version is not strong and does not convey any particular message except depicting the feeling of someone who is depressed. This was not my only intentions.
Hence, I decided to do a Performance Art as follows:
There will be a sound box, trapped within a cage, within another cage, within another cage.. until you reach the layer of the sound box.
Box will be from bigger to smaller sized – to show how minute the big problem of depression versus how it is viewed in society.
Performance is called ‘Caged’. I measured boxes out of cardboards and glued them together to form boxes with only one opening. This was measured carefully so that at first, the person who would be experiencing it will struggle to take the boxes out of each other. As it progresses, it gets easier to remove the boxes.
I then created a cage made out of wires and fitted a sound box into the cage.
I also hand painted the boxes to with white acrylic paint. The purpose why this was hand painted was so that it seemed organic and raw. If you look closely, the boxes actually have unintentional handprints on it.
For the sound box, this was to represent the mental breakdowns that a depressed person might be experiencing. The sounds I put together were meant to portray that. The sound gets more and more intense as it went along. The purpose for this was to increase the intensity and anxiety of the participant.
On the day itself, I needed the room to be dark and a spotlight shining on the participant.
I gave conditions to the participant as follows:
1. Remove the boxes, one by one till you get to the end.
2. Make sure to be careful not to destroy the boxes as you remove them.
3. You have a time limit of 6 minutes (I tested out the whole experiment on my own multiple times and it was around 5 minutes on average)
The purpose for the condition to remove the boxes carefully was to avoid the participants from ripping the boxes apart. It also meant to portray and allow the participants to experience the difficulty in facing this problem.
The time limit was meant to focus on the urgency of accepting depression and changing the society’s mindset and attitude towards it.
The intensity of the sound increases as the participant struggles to open the boxes. The purpose is to allow the participant experiencing it to feel increasingly anxious as it goes on. They would also be the one that hears the sounds coming from the box the clearest.
The sounds include layers of girl crying, sobbing, wailing, rain, water from shower head etc.
Here’s the audio that I put together. Some were organic and others were extracted from non-copyrighted sources.
After the whole performance, I described what the piece is about. What I said were as follows:
This piece is called “Caged”.
Take note that the boxes represents society & the cage + sound box represents mental health, specifically, depression.
Depression is a mental health condition that has been shan’t or frowned upon when being brought up.
The time limit and the intensity of the piece was a way to portray the urgency needed to deal with this alarming spike in the number of people dealing with Depression.
The delicacy that was instructed when removing the boxes depicts the fragile issue of mental health since it is a sensitive or taboo topic, especially amongst the older generation.
If you noticed, the first box was the hardest to remove and it gets easier as the boxes get smaller. This depicts the difficulty of the first few steps in dealing with this social construct on mental health.
The scale of the boxes, from biggest to smallest, represents how minute the big problem of depression is viewed in our society. (compare the two)
It also represents the obstacles that will get smaller and therefore, easier to deal with
The cage at the end, enclosing the sound box shows the feeling of trapped & suffocation of the people suffering with this all alone.
I guess what I am trying to say here is that tolerance of this issue is needed and the normality of this will allow more people to come forward and seek help.
The audio is meant to depict the periodic breakdowns that could be experienced by people suffering from mental health.
This performance was a particularly tough and draining one as it was something that was personal. It was created with the purpose of awareness, provoking a thought to the audience and especially, the participant. It is also meant to resonate with those experiencing depression.