Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Genesis of the Project

In the beginning, there was blood...

When I was a small child, my mother took me to see an herbalist and naturopathic specialist, and the idea was to investigate for possible parasites. I have exceptional sensory recall of this event, and the feelings toward the activities which took place in the specialist's office. I remember the scent of herbs, vitamins, and there were medical charts of the human skeleton and human anatomy, along with diplomas that covered the walls. My eyes found the R2D2 action figure in the kiddie toy box, as I sat in his examination room on the hot summer afternoons I would miss school to be there.

The most memorable recollection of this childhood experience was a "blood-based" examination that was administered for an analysis and diagnosis of my cellular activity. The specialist poked my thumb with a pin, and allowed a drop of blood to fall onto a small plexiglass slide. The blood was then placed under a microscope which was connected to an analog video translataor device. All of a sudden, there were ambiguous black and white images that appeared on the monitor which consisted of various circular forms in a state of life as they appeared to breathe and exist as entities in motion, while they navigated around the screen as he tilted or shifted the microscope lens. Before long, I become conscious to the fact that I was viewing my own blood extracated from the interior of my body through this technology.

The specialist spoke with my mother for a length of time, and I returned to his office to repeat this procedure off and on for a couple of years. One day I no longer had parasites, and my trips to the specialist's office ended.

Fourteen years later, last summer, my partner and I decided to visit this herbalist for some insight into our health. Though we weren't seriously ill, we wanted to gain some insight into our physical beings to help us feel healthier. Upon arriving at this office, at the same location, the same sensory experiences I had as a child resurfaced. I felt at ease and calm as we both consulted with him about the state of our health and our search for information. Through an exchange of language, diagrams, and images, we were able to arrive at an understanding by his interpretations of the interior workings of our bodies. It was now time to do the blood testing and I offered to go first. Blood, as before, was extracted and placed under the microscope for diagnosis. When the screen of the monitor came into focus, there were my blood cells, white and black, circular outlines, co-existing with each other while moving gently and soundlessly . The specialist began his interpretation and subsequent diagnosis from the information of the images, and explained to me some information about my present health. This was an extremely personal and empowering experience for me, as many things came to my mind.

I thought about the language, knowledge, and the images, and how they are interrelated. I could now coomprehend and respect the specialist's knowledge, and connect to the visual ambiguous images that were shown to me. As a child, I couldn't grasp the essence of the diagnostic language, and now as an adult, it made sense. I remember thinking that this was such a beautiful moment - one of knowledge and empowerment. I paused to think of the naturopath with his knowledge, technology and tools, who provides his specific service to his clientele. To follow the thread, I buy my meat from a butcher, my vinyl from a record store, my cat food from a pet store, and I view my blood cells on a monitor at the naturopath's office. This idea of specification and the exchange of language and knowledge intrigued me. I was able to gain a sense of awareness of my body with my time spent receiving this service of knowledge exchange. The images of my blood cells became a type of meditation which opened a window into my being on a micro level. These images and my perception of life on a micro scale became the impetus for my graduation show.

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