Creating Emotion

You may know I have aphantasia. For those of you who don’t know, that means for me, that on a scale of 1-10, my mental pictures are about the clarity of a 2.

But when I create I want to make exactly what I’m picturing in my head. What does that mean though? The picture itself is a far off fuzzy outline. But I know what it feels like, the items involved, where the light comes from.

From the warmth of family, to the spiral and distance of depression.
I write down ideas in bullet pointed lists, then when I’m ready I arrange my objects. Maybe this is why I’m so drawn to toy photography, bits of the picture are in my hands, it’s just up to me to arrange and fill in the gaps.

So here’s my thought process, in just a few images, to give you an idea of how my mind works through these things.

Family, Christmas 2020

To me Christmas is supposed to be a family holiday filled with warmth and cheer. When I saw these Christmas chocolate bears I immediately thought they needed an iconic family image complete with a tree and gifts. The tree lit, the gold bears, the yellow couch, the gold wall, the beige carpet, all warm tones.

Free Association, MRI series, Tourmaline ., 2020

I had just been diagnosed with MS and was feeling a world of emotions about that diagnosis. I had also just finally received this figure in the mail, having ordered him 8 months prior. When I first saw this figure I imagined shining light through the clear plastic, the red representing his blood pulsing through him. He’s alive. Then when processing these emotions I pictured building blocks coming together as a way to represent the pieces of a difficult time coming together and being able to emerge from it whole. The pieced holographic foam board had been in quite a few of my images around this time. I was drawing inspiration from it and it seemed to work in this mystical landscape of discovery. I wanted the figure to be hugging his knees to show the difficult time he was having, but he doesn’t quite bend that way, so holding his head seemed the next best symbolic body posture. Further, we see the red on the left side of his head, the side of my head where I’ve been experiencing immense pain.

Fugue State, 2016

I created this image in response to a story I had read on Reddit No Sleep. But it was more than that. A fugue state represented a depression or anxiety spiral, a lost state, confusion on how to move forward. So in honor of the story I placed the figure in a forest, but then I photographed the scene with a tilt shift lens, distorting the surroundings, making them shift around her as one’s brain might feel.

Overall, I fully focus on feelings and symbolism, lighting and scenery to portray those feelings.

How do your stories emerge?

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9 thoughts on “Creating Emotion

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  1. Thank you for sharing your world through images. My stories are mostly “head narratives”: a cast of characters that live in my mind often knocking on my skull to get out and on to the “page.” These stories I “write” inside myself. Sometimes, I put them down in my scrawlings for blogs or computer files that stack up. Mostly the plot twists, character development, and such stay inside. I do dream broadway musicals and hbo/hulu worthy stories. Those remain only as images — I rarely find the words to translate them. And the musicals — I am totally unmusical — so these “songs” remain on the stage of my mind.

  2. This is a wonderful post. Shedding light on different health issues and how they are visually perceived. I can only reiterate happy faces comment.

  3. :-) I’m sorry to hear that you have to deal with MS. I hope you are feeling well – as good as possible under these circumstances.
    Take care and stay safe!
    All the best to you,
    Claudia :-9

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