Identity is Intangible
A portrait of a person is only representative of the continually morphing exterior of an ever-shifting consciousness that we attribute to an identity. Our physical appearance is not solidified; this is understood as an objective truth in all cultures – as we get older, our bodies change and begin to respond to the hours of exposure to the external world. What is less commonly acknowledged is that our identity does the same – if we allow it.
In Buddhism there is a notion that everything is impermanent, including all states of emotion, and so to get hung up on an emotion at either end of the positive-negative spectrum is poor practice in everyday life. As with most Buddhist ideas – this seems to make a lot of sense. If we are to solely concentrate on what it is that the external world exposes us to, there are high chances that our cognition will not progress and that we will be influenced by the same patterns cyclically. In the West it is common to describe oneself with a particular characteristic as a solidity – ‘i’m depressive’, ‘i’m out-going’, ‘i’m compassionate’, but these terms are labels to describe ways that we have been in the past based on the experiences we’ve had, and not always true. A more honest personal reflection would be ‘I am consciousness’. To be an agent of our own consciousness is seemingly not as common as we may like to believe.
Without constant reflection, consideration, and inquisition,we are unable to have justified opinions on the stimulus we choose (or that is forced upon us), and so our identity is just a narrative of our experiences. It appears that with the rise of networking technologies, ‘presence’ is of great importance, and establishing an identity is crucial in attaining a sense of respectability of formats such as Facebook and instagram, giving conception to the phenomena known as the ‘selfie’.
The selfie is a photograph taken of oneself to document appearance, or environment in which the photograph was taken in an effort to communicate something about the self. A portrait of impermanence, and not a portrait of truth.
The image above is my own ‘selfie’. The idea is to attempt to communicate the intangibility of my own states of mind, interests, and physical appearance. The ugliness of the portrait is also an attempt to escape from the vanity and egotistical aspect of the ‘selfie’, presenting features distorted and obscured, as in everyday life we often actively aim to present ourselves.