Emotional Attachment

“Trying to be happy by accumulating possessions is like trying to satisfy hunger by taping sandwiches to your body.”

George Carlin


I have been rather recluse this first half of the semester. Chances are if you ventured down to the second floor MFA space you wouldn’t find me. I have been spending a lot of my time working on my thesis installation, particularly the viewer interactive component; which has been requiring a lot of my time typing away on my computer. For those of you who were not present in my previous critique, or are in Wednesday’s seminar group, I will take this time to go over what I have been working on and my plans for my thesis installation.

As many of you know, I am an avid collector of things; particularly collectibles from my childhood and objects that I feel have utility purposes. I have actually stopped dumpster diving for the time being, and have been focusing more on objects that I personally have strong emotional attachment to. Now, what do I mean by emotional attachment?

Emotional attachment is a primary construct when it comes to the act of collecting, hoarding, consuming, and our interactions with one another. It dictates what we buy, who we love, what we keep, and what we throw away. It is a force that can be destructive, such as the development of addictions and obsessions. However, it can also be beneficial, such as the cultivation of empathy and the creation of strong lasting relationships. Through my installation, I want to question my own emotional attachment to objects; particularly the objects that represent my life. Why do I hold on to them? Why can’t I throw them away?

You might be thinking ‘how can an object represent my life?’ Take this analogy into consideration. When we go to a live concert, we are left with a ticket stub; a little piece of paper that records the date, venue, seating location, your name, and the name of the performance. Now, how many of you, when you are handed that ticket stub, hold on to it even when the concert is over? My guess is that a lot of us do. Why do we do this; it’s just a little piece of paper. Actually that piece of paper represents something more. It represents a moment in time where you existed. It represents an experience that you lived through firsthand. The reason why we have difficulty discarding it is because, to some degree, that little ticket stub has now become a fragment of our identity. If we were to lose that piece of paper, then we would not have that visual element for us to say ‘yes, I lived through this experience. Here is the proof.’ This is emotional attachment. This is why we hold on to objects

So what am I doing for my installation? Over the last few weeks, I have been documenting 50 objects that I have strong emotional attachment to. Each object carries with it a unique story, experience, moment in my life; whether from my childhood days, to teenage years, to the present. I am essentially gathering a collection of my life. For my installation, I will be conducting a live performance on the opening day of our thesis exhibition. There, I will be, one by one, destroying all of the 50 objects. The remnants from each object will then be place in their own individual 6″Wx8″H acrylic tube, and placed on a shelf. Each tube will have a QR code affixed to its face. Using their smartphones, viewers will be able to scan the QR codes, which will then direct them to a specific description page for each object. Once viewers have learned more about the connection I have with each object, they will be prompted toward another page where they will be able to take a brief survey regarding THEIR own emotional attachment to the object. During the performance I will also have cameras documenting¬† the whole experience, with TV monitors projecting the deconstruction of the objects.

Some have voiced their concern on whether this performance will be too strenuous on me emotionally, but I see this piece as a springboard for future work. Using the data collected from the surveys, I will have a better understanding of how emotionally attached viewers become toward objects that, prior to the installation, they had no connection with. Not only that, but I view this whole experience as a way of temporarily freeing myself. Attempting to regain control over my life, by destroying the objects that represent it.


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