Midterm: Human (Inner)actions

Title: Human (Inner)actions

Artist: Sam Ozenbaugh

Completion Date: 2/16/15

Place of Creation: Apartment

Technique: Photography

In the Body and Medicine section of this class, we came across a few artists that dealt with the integration of technology into the physiology of the human body. One artist, Stelarc, did a project called Stimbo in which he created a touch-screen interface that would activate muscle stimulating sensors, causing the subject to involuntarily move in response. This installation used electronic impulses foreign to the body to experiment with its reactions. In my experimentation, I wanted to do similar testing. However, instead of using foreign stimulation on the body, I wanted to instead view how the body reacts to natural stimulation, and highlight some common phenomena.

In Human (Inner)actions, I submitted test subjects to different simulated environments in order to photograph the natural bodily reactions that occur. Some of these simulated environments include light vs. darkness, cold, heat, exercise, injury, and even emotions. Of course, these environments and reactions only scratch the surface of what the human body endures over a lifetime. This collection includes reactions of chills, sweating, crying, healing and scarring, and pupil dilation. After shooting, I discovered that in the pictures of dilation I could see a reflection of myself. I began to think about these shots as creative self-portraiture, but then began to imagine these images in a more critical sense: how do I look in the eyes of others? What gives humans the ability to interpret the images they see? How do others interpret this project, or even any project dealing with technology?

Most of these reactions were difficult to capture. The hardest reaction was chills. After hours of using cold showers, ice buckets, and utility fans, I was able to capture a few images of a genuine reaction. In order to capture sweat, I asked my teammate to take a hot shower and then exercise until there was enough on his skin to see. The subject with the scar obviously had an injury long ago, so the capturing of the healing reaction was simply snapping pictures. The evocation of genuine tears involved multiple onions and soul searching. Finally for the dilation, I exposed the eye to extreme darkness followed by flashes of bright light. Through this experimentation, I’ve discovered that it is extremely difficult to evoke a genuine response or emotion from a human being in a simulated environment. While the use of technology forces the body to act a desired way, my project showed that the natural reactions of the human body are sometimes totally unpredictable. I hope through this project to evoke some natural response of the viewer (sympathy, empathy, questioning, etc.) and discussion of the sincerity and validity of experiments that create foreign environments to analyze life.

Sweat

chills

tear

scar

selfie

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