As a natural-born crier, I consider myself an expert in the art of tears. I possess the talent to effortlessly express my emotions through tears. Although my family has accused me of exaggerating, I believe it to be a compliment, as I am able to feel things more deeply than others.
Upon receiving the task from the Crying Institute to develop a new crying material, I was filled with genuine excitement and gratitude for the opportunity to innovate and design new technologies that our world deserves. Initially, I generated a multitude of clever ideas, such as crying paintings, crying cactus, crying cola, etc. Even though it was so much fun during those experiment times, I ended up didn’t proceed with any ideas as they were dull over time.
Except for one day, I realised that in order to invent something truly valuable, I needed to unlearn and then relearn anew!
I put down my ego next to my laptop and pretended to meditate for 3 minutes. Suddenly, an idea struck me: tears contain a three-layered component known as tear film. I then pondered the possibilities of filming tears to see these tear films.
Wow, I was super proud of myself. Let’s make a film about the tear film then!
Chapter 1: The Tear Tracker
In order to film the tears, I need to create a device that can detect, track and visually record my tears. I made a device by using recycled parts from the electronics lab at the Bauhaus-Universität.
The device is made from the breadboard, wires, LED, camera, resistor, RTC etc.
Due to the complication, I decided to make a short video to show how it look and function.
Chapter 2: The Interface
In simple words, in order to track my tears successfully, I need to put my wonderful creation, the Tear Tracker, inside my eyes. The preferred location is next to the pool of tears where I believe it is the place of tears production.
To show you how to do it, I created an instruction video that contains important steps but yet very simple.
Chapter 3: The Tear Film
Now it comes to the most important part of the journey. I would cry to activate the device and film my tears!
Sadly, it wasn’t that simple. I couldn’t cry.
Going back a bit to the story of the experiments before Chapter 1. Even though I didn’t proceed with any of those dulled ideas, I couldn’t avoid the fact that I sacrificed tons of tears in order to test those innovations.
Crying after crying makes me cry for real. I burned out from crying and I cried from being burned out. One day, like today, I woke up and realised that I don’t have any more tears to drain…
I need a new material!
(Storytime) Once upon a time, but around 8 years ago to be precise, my mom moved from our planet to another faraway land. I couldn’t reach her due to signal issues. I miss her every day and that missing energy has been killing me, so I decided not to look at any of her photos. The videos are highly prohibited, maybe because my mind knows I will cry so badly. Well, thanks to the self-defense mechanism. -_-
However, as a professional, the project is more important than my heart. I decided to finally face my fear and step into her old materials in order to complete my new material invention.
In this chapter, you will see the final part of my project. I hope you enjoy my film and my tear film. 🙂
“Lyric poems, even when based on narratives, do not resemble stories. All stories are about battles, of one kind or another, which end in victory or defeat. Poems, regardless of any outcome, cross the battlefields, tending the wounded.” (1)
– John Berger
Developed and illustrated during the courses “erzähle (dich selbst) mit Code” and “the crying institute” this project seeks to visually explore a favorite poem of mine which made me cry the first time I read it: “Scheherazade”(2) by Richard Siken. The illustrations are inspired by me and my friends’ interpretations of the poem, our shared experiences, and our nightmares.
Tell me about the dream where we pull the bodies out of the lake and dress them in warm clothes again. How it was late, and no one could sleep, the horses running until they forget that they are horses. It’s not like a tree where the roots have to end somewhere, it’s more like a song on a policeman’s radio, how we rolled up the carpet so we could dance, and the days were bright red, and every time we kissed there was another apple to slice into pieces. Look at the light through the windowpane. That means it’s noon, that means we’re inconsolable. Tell me how all this, and love too, will ruin us. These, our bodies, possessed by light. Tell me we’ll never get used to it.
Written by Richard Siken, Scheherazade is named after the main protagonist of the collected middle eastern folk tales known as Arabian Nights: Scheherazade married the king, Shahryar, who had become disillusioned with women after being betrayed by his first wife. Consumed with bitterness and anger, he started marrying virgins one after the other, only to put them to death the very next morning – making sure no woman would ever get a chance to break his heart again. Eventually, his minister fails to find more brides for the king. This is where Scheherazade came into the story – the minister’s daughter. She offered herself as the next bride, which made her dad terrified, but he had no other options. Yet Shcheherazade walked onto this path with a plan. On the night of their marriage, she started telling the king a captivating story, ending it with a cliff-hanger. “we are running out of time”, she had probably said. The dawn was nigh, and it was time for the king to end her life as he had done with the women before her. The king however, was so invested in the story at this point that he decided to let her live another day just to hear the rest of it. And so went 1001 nights – Scheherazade told stories one after another, leaving the ending unresolved, leaving the king eager for more. Until she ran out of stories to tell. Until the king fell in love with her and spared her life. (3) quick search on the internet shows that the poem is generally perceived as a poem about love and the power of love. Probably also because of Scheherazade’s story ending with the king falling in love with Scheherazade and sparing her life. Yet this poem scares me. But I agree that this poem is, in fact, about love.
The poem starts with the repeated phrase Tell me… which reminds of the peculiar relationship between the king and Scheherazade. Is this an order? Or a desperate appeal in supplication? Is the poet looking for comfort or hoping to fill the gaps in a waning memory, not remembering how, why it all started? Pulling the bodies out of the lake to me means facing all the feelings and fears which you have swept under a carpet. Here visualized as toys and objects from my childhood, because I have a similar fear of anything related to that time. I refuse to watch “cute videos” of myself as a child. I can’t look at my face in older family photos, I can’t recognize that little girl. Do I feel like I’ve failed here? Maybe I do feel like I failed her because the very act of typing down this question brought tears to my eyes. Perhaps I fear the little me wouldn’t deem the adult I have become worthy of love because I’m not a “loving” person. Love has always been scary to me – and I’m not precisely talking about romantic love, but fostering a love for anything and anyone. Family, friends, places, life, and self-love. I find comfort in this passage from the book “I Was Interrupted” by the American director Nicholas Ray (4) – which, admittedly, I’ve never read. Selected lines from this passage are used in a song titled “the Hole” by the French experimental metal band Hypno5e (5), which happens to be one of my favorite music bands.
Today Susan asked Dr. D., “How does one overcome fear?” Was she asking for her or for me? Dr. D. looked at me. Why did I feel had to say something? I said, “By confrontation.” Vague enough, but implying, I suppose, confronting that which you fear head on. That’s okay for an implication, but hardly a remedy for the wound (pain). How about love? Dedicated love of life. Love of —for—God. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” All doing. All living. Must battle fear with love. Even the want to love will help.
Nicholas Ray – I Was Interrupted
I used caps and pills as a symbol of what keeps you going – keeps the horses running – It could be love, the want to love, or a responsibility that comes with being loved. It could be a fear of lovelessness. And it could be literal pills. The line the horses running, until they forget that they are horses could be interpreted as how you can get drowned in love, letting go of your past, your fears, your bitterness, your hatred – but to love is to be vulnerable. To love relentlessly and without falter is to knowingly walk the path towards heartbreak, what the king had been trying to avoid, and to take vengeance for.
Then comes the line it’s not like a tree where the roots need to end somewhere (love is endless?) … it’s more like a song on a policeman’s radio what are the songs on policemen’s radios but the reports of crime. At this point the poem stops being romantic, bringing something morbid into an uncomfortably intimate relationship. The imagery of dancing and kisses is amplified by the tenderness and sweetness of apple only to be juxtaposed by slicing into pieces – a wording that surly evokes violent connotation. The apple itself could represent any number of things depending on your perspective, which, in my opinion, makes it one of the most fascinating symbols used in this poem. My favorite one is taking it as a reference to the story of Adam and Eve, in which eating an apple leads to their expulsion from the Garden of Eden and their eventual mortality. In this sense, the apple could represent the inevitability of loss that is inherent in love. With every kiss that apple gets sliced into pieces, with every kiss we fall further in love, knowingly walking towards its “true destination”. This creeping dread and fear of loss is effectively captured in this passage from Derrida’s speech in memory of his late friend Jean-Marie Benoist.(6)
To have a friend, to look at him, to follow him with your eyes, to admire him in friendship, is to know in a more intense way, already injured, always insistent, and more and more unforgettable, that one of the two of you will inevitably see the other die.
Jacques Derrida – The Work of Mourning
Tell me how all this, and love too, will ruin us
We talked about houseplants in one of our sessions, and an interesting question arose: do our houseplants cry with us? I’ve been thinking about it a lot. Especially because I’m helplessly watching my Monstera die. A plant that has magically survived my “can’t even get out of the bed, let alone water my plant” phases, but is somehow struggling to survive even though I’ve been doing my best to take care of it. Tell me how all this, and love too, will ruin us.the sheer realization that love is not an ultimate cure, it’s not enough. And what it does offer, it gives for a price. “A broken heart — that grief of love — is always love’s true destination. This is the covenant of love.” (7)
The poem ends in, in my view, a hopeful manner.
These, our bodies, possessed by light. Tell me we’ll never get used to it.
light brings a more positive and hopeful tone, so does the hope to never getting used to it which sounds like a plea to never lose sight of the why we love. Despite everything, or because of everything. Battling our way through life with love.
For even the want to love will help.
1. John Berger, And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief as Photos (New York: Knopf Doubleday, 2011), 21.
2. Richard Siken, “Scheherazade,” in Crush (London: Yale University Press, 2005).
3. Bristy Chowdhury, “Scheherazade: the story of a storyteller,” Art UK, last modified January, 2018, accessed February 20, 2023, https://artuk.org/discover/stories/scheherazade-the-story-of-a-storyteller.
4. Nicholas Ray, I Was Interrupted: Nicholas Ray on Making Movies (California: University of California Press, 1995), 160.
5. Hypno5e, “The Hole,” track 5 on Des deux l’une est l’autre, 2007.
6. Jacques Derrida, The Work of Mourning (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003), 13.
7. Nick Cave, “How do I not have my heart broken?,” The Red Hand Files, last modified December, 2021, accessed February 20, 2023, https://www.theredhandfiles.com/what-can-you-tell-me-about-love.
‘/i am not a robot.’ is a Dadaesque poetry book created by a machine, taking the human processor out of the loop. It uses python script and algorithmic text libraries to curate a broad selection of randomized poems. These poems are based on personal crying texts; a compilation of old journals and manifestations. The result is an interpretation of these texts through the emotionally sober eyes of the machine, adopting an absurdist outlook and exploring a somewhat literary translation to the act of crying.
Last week, I felt a deep feeling of sadness to the point where I felt like my thoughts would consume me. I knew I had to do something to distract myself from the overwhelming thoughts that were racing through my mind.
I remembered a store that sold scents that I had never visited before, thinking it was unnecessary for me to buy something from there, like it wouldn’t be worth it to spent money on this kind of experience. However, I decided to try something new and visited the store. I spent some time browsing through the shelves, inhaling different scents and focusing only on my sense of smell. The experience was new to me, and it allowed me to be present in the moment and appreciate the simple pleasure of smelling different fragrances. It was a way to escape from the constant chatter in my mind and find a sense of peace.
As I continued to explore the store, I suddenly realized that these scents were triggering memories from my past. The floral smells reminded me of my mother, and I was transported back to my childhood.. When I was a child it was the smell of my mother’s perfume that brought tears to my eyes. It was the scent of her perfume that brought tears to my eyes and reminded me of how much I missed her when she was away traveling. I used to smell her clothes for comfort, and the memory was as vivid as if it had happened yesterday.
In that moment, I realized again that the power of scent was not only calming, but also had the ability to evoke memories and emotions. However, at the same time, it can also bring back negative memories, reminding us of a disliked person or a place. The trigger factor of smells is big since it’s capable of conjuring both positive and negative emotions.
In seinem Buch „Die Matrix der Gefühle. Das Kino, das Melodram und das Theater der Empfindsamkeit” postuliert Kappelhoff, dass das Weinen ein Bekenntnis des menschlichen Subjekts zu seiner Verletzbarkeit sei. Später schreibt er, wurde das Weinen privatisiert.
Für die Arbeit “Den Tod tragen” setzte ich mich mit der Toten- und Erinnerungskultur in Deutschland auseinander, wobei deren Materialität eine besondere Aufmerksamkeit zukommt. Früher wurde Trauer, in gesellschaftlich festgelegten Formen der Bekleidung getragen und so nach Aussen sichtbar gemacht. In dieser Fotoserie wird die Kleidung Schicht für Schicht angelegt und verändert so die Silhouette, die Figur, den Körper.
“Hungry-eyed fogies, gargoyles in full cry above the ruck and tumble of the street. They stare through shadows at a first-class loser, failed at selling shoes, flunked waiting tables, freaked out at knocking holes through cellar walls for slumlord hovels, scratched through flea-bitten nights in far-off places, fumbled over phrases for a shrinking ear. Open mouthed, they shrug me off, but I don`t care. An empty bag, I litter-dance in air.”
Was bedeutet “Crying” für mich persönlich? Wie kann man seine persönliche Auffassung von “Crying” ausdrücken? Welche Sprache und Symboliken verwende ich, wenn ich diesen Zustand ausdrücke? Welche Farben verwende ich? Welches Medium?
In diesem Selbstversuch wurden genau diese Fragen erforscht.
Der Begriff “Crying” kann verschiedene Bedeutungen haben (z.B. weinen, schreien). Die meist verwendete Übersetzung “weinen” ins Deutsche ist aber nicht immer passend, um den genauen Kontext des nuancenreichen englischen “crying” zu vermitteln. Wir merken immer wieder: Eine direkte Übersetzung ins Deutsche gibt es nicht.
Um so spannender war es deshalb, mein eigenes Verständnis von “Crying” zeichnerisch darzustellen.
Das Ergebnis verglich ich mit einem Acrylgemälde, dass ich 2019 gemalt hatte und “Der Schrei” nannte.
Beide Darstellungen zeigen Gemeinsamkeiten.
Es wird jeweils eine Figur dargestellt, die verkrampft ihren Kopf nach oben hält. Das deutet auf Verzweiflung und Hoffnungslosigkeit.
Auch die Farbwahl bleibt gleich. Schwarz und Weiß.
Wichtig ist es, abschließend nochmal zu betonen, dass es sich hier um eine subjektive Darstellung handelt. Für jede:n bedeutet “Crying” etwas anderes. Es muss nicht unbedingt etwas trauriges, hoffnungsloses oder verzweifeltes sein. Vielleicht ist es bunt und farbenfroh.
Keine Auffassung ist falsch. An den beiden gezeigten Darstellungen lässt sich erkennen: Es verändert sich.
EAST GERMAN GOTHIC STUDIES is a study of gothic culture, which in East Germany was characterised above all by severe economic deprivation, limited access to information, music carriers and political and social repression. From 1987 onwards, there are increasing notes in Stasi files on self-organised youth groups who put on make-up, toupee their hair, wear necklaces and have a fascination for cemeteries. Politically, they remained misunderstood by state security personnel, which increased the sceptical observation of this youth culture. This is a continuation of my work on the longing and crying of goths in the GDR. First, I would like to present a work that was part of the group show UNMONUMENTAL MOMENTS at the Jena Kunstverein.
7 _____ Fabian Reetz Untitled (East German Gothic Studies), 2022 Archival material, weathered latex on glass, steel, 86.5 x 40 x 20 cm The installation by Fabian Reetz consists of two rectangular steel bodies, whose fronts are each closed by a pane of glass. The artist has The artist has covered them with latex and exposed them to direct sunlight and the effects of the weather over a long period of time. The material, which is opaque and impermeable to air in its original state, becomes an irregularly structured, translucent surface that bears witness to tensions and cracks as a result of this artificially produced ageing process. This semipermeable filter partially and restrictedly reveals another component of the installation: a picture of the band The Cure. This is part of a fan calendar that – among others – had a permanent place in his parents’ kitchen in the 1990s. With this installation, which connects the private with the public, Fabian Reetz reflects on changes in systems of reference over time. In doing so, he creates minimalist objects that on the one hand pick up on the cult of idols, and on the other ask about their temporality. “Being a fan, living one’s own life through someone else, fulfilling one’s own desires through someone else’s career – these were mechanisms of escapism for young people in the GDR. In the 90s, the Wave Gothic Treffen emerged from this subculture. Part of the founding myth is The Cure concert on Leipzig’s Festwiese, for which large numbers of starving goths from all corners of the defunct GDR made the pilgrimage, only to be beaten up by skinheads afterwards. 2022 marks the 30th anniversary of the the 30th anniversary of the festival, the protagonists of the time are writing books and an institutionalised classification of the youth movement of the time is beginning. At the same time, there are newer fan groups around bands like The Cure and Depeche Mode, networked via forums and social media, in which the focus is on queerness, sexuality and playing with the gender roles of these bands. Agendas shift, while the projection screen in the form of Robert Smith’s lipstick and cobwebby hair is still onstage after decades.” -excerpt from the exhibition text by Michaela Mai
CONCEPT SKETCHES FOR A NEW INSTALLATION
The following is an immersive spatial installation that deepens my preoccupation with goth culture. In southern Thuringia, there has been a slate quarrying area near Lehesten since the 13th century, which is a source of identity for the surrounding villages. Most of the houses here are clad in slate. Since industrialisation, the region has been in a productive but socio-economically precarious position. During the GDR, mining was dominated by the planned economy, the economic situation deteriorated visibly, and in the 1990s mining came to an end. Outside the small village centres, there are mainly two-storey, simple single-family houses covered with slate. After the end of quarrying, the material became more expensive and since then there have been hardly any new building projects with slate. The cultural and economic history of this milieu in southern Thuringia can be traced on the basis of the material. The roofing of the houses works by nailing the uniform shingles to the outer façade of the house. Contrary to this traditional procedure, I would like to knot slate tiles with decorative chains. Self-dyed shrouds and self-made jewellery are an integral part of goth fashion during the GDR. Due to the lack of appropriate clothing, an inventive dedication to a gothic outfit was necessary, which was picked up via West German television and through magazines. Often this went hand in hand with resistance to conservative parents and was an intense act as a moment of demarcation in a restrictive state. For me, slate bricks linked by jewellery chains carry the lifeworld of goths in East Germany, as they combine the tension of one’s own parental home with breaking out through individualised, self-made looks. While at the end of the 1980s the goth scene mainly found its place in youth clubs and sometimes in cemeteries and private cellars, in the 1990s it was places like the Moritzbastei or the Darkflower in Leipzig that were central to the scene. Old vaulted cellars are often venues for goth clubs, inspired by the iconic Batcave in London.
The installation consists of funnel-shaped, thin steel scaffolding to which slate panels are tied – creating individual columns. The slate plates are knotted together by jewellery chains, which on the one hand refer to Gothic jewellery, such as the chains by Robert Smith (see appendix). On the other hand, it is important to me to understand the handling of the slate as fashion. The funnel-shaped objects are in turn attached by wire ropes and jewellery chains either to the beams, or to the walls of the interior by eyebolts. As can be seen in the sketches, the columns with wire ropes arched by tension are reminiscent of vaulted Gothic clubs. With the columns, the material that is normally used for exterior façades is also brought into the interior and re-evaluated. Above the bar, I want to hang a plain slate-clad Schlid that quotes the Batcave’s iconic coffin-shaped logo. (see sketches).
In my presentation of the new crying material I shared my process of crying through Art.
Why do I feel the need to cry trough Art? Is crying enough for me? No. I believe we all find ways to deal with our emotional pain when crying isn’t enough, and for me that is Art. It’s a more active way of crying and dealing with my feelings.
To help me elaborate this idea I created this scheme:
This “Art web” tries to follow an order that is quite hard to understand, even for me, due to the connections that are established between every single stage.
In my presentation I explained these different stages through my works. If you are interested in seeing it in more detail you can check the handout uploaded in the Moodle.
My work is still alternating between the last 2 stages of this process -Laugh not to cry and Will I ever not feel ashamed of crying -, so I thought it would be interesting to share what I haven’t shared yet.
The expression Uma lata do caralho means “you have a lot of fucking nerve”. In Portuguese this expression uses the word lata, that means can. Alike the red ribbon O mau da fita (you can see it above), I decided to play with the expression that was said to me in an aggressive tone, trough sarcasm.
Obrigadinha (“thank you so much” in a sarcastic tone) and ?UAM (MAU? – BAD?) continue this process of questioning and processing what was said to me, through art and sarcasm. Laugh not to cry. Who is the bad one? And is that person really bad or are we seeing it incorrectly? Who do we have to thank? Do we truly need or want to thank that person?
Here is a Zine that I presented in CI class about crying objects, some of them where exhibited during WWS in the atelier where I’ve been working.
The Zine is in Spanish because it is my mother tongue. The first texts are an experience around crying that have marked the relationship I have with being ‘sensitive’ or crying ‘a lot’. About how I was (still am) a crybaby and it is remembered by my parents many times. In the zine I feature some ‘crying objects’ and scans of my safe space in weaker moments: my bedroom. These objects cry because I accumulate or produce them only when I cry. Among these objects there are nails and hair, wounds or flowers that I have not (forgot or didn’t have the power to) take care of.
I have added a QR to the zine to kinda make it more interactive and make it able to rotate the scanner. I laso added one of the videos that I keep as ‘intimate’ of a conversation with a conversation form a night out in the beach with my friend who also contributed to the Zine with some woodcuts, text and conversations about crying.
One of the pages of the zine, in relation to the room, there are some photos of one of the walls of my room where I have been writing down quotes that I liked, many of them are related to intimacy, love, friendship, pity etc. feelings in general, which is what you move along with the objects.
Some of the words that I wrote down are ‘The Sadness, The Cry, The Pain, The Memory, The Crying, The Grief, The Tear, The Lament’.
I don’t want to translate everything because one of the things I like about working in my mother tongue in a class/university where the language is another is that I can work from my experience and intimacy without feeling as exposed as I do in my home country, but I really want to show one of my favourites songs, ‘AL VERTE LAS FLORES LLORAN’ (1969) by Camarón de La Isla y Paco de Lucía.
‘When flowers see you they cry when you walks into your garden because all the flowers would like to look just like you. Retire so that people can’t know about our love The further away the saint is the closer the devotion. And the day’.
My thoughts on crying in an artistic context, aka artist practice which I define as “artistic crying” culminate in my textile piece “A souvenir of a day in the country with you”. Which I started creating because of my manifested thoughts during “Crying Institute”.
The idea of a universal pain that we all share is a central theme throughout the piece, and the responsibility of mending it is a recurring motif that runs throughout it.
As a work of art, “A Souvenir of a Day in the Country with You” not only invites viewers to reflect on their own experiences of pain and how art can help to heal these wounds, by clearly stating “You inspire me“, “I want to mend your pain“ but it also indirectly delves into the idea of pain within the artistic practice itself. The process of creating these textile carpets is not only physically demanding and time-consuming, particularly in this case because every carpet of the series aims for more complexity in production (in this case: naturally dyeing the fibers, which included collecting 20kg of red onions for example), but it is also emotionally challenging due to the historical dismissal of textile art as a legitimate form of artistic expression. The pattern used in “A Souvenir of a Day in the Country with You” is a direct reference to one of Gunta Stölzl’s woven carpet drafts, which is not only painful because of its’ transfomation into tufted pattern but also because of the dismissal of textiles as a legitimate artistic medium. Historically, textile art has been undervalued and relegated to the realm of craft rather than art. This dismissal of textile art was particularly evident in the Bauhaus movement, where textile artists such as Gunta Stölzl were marginalized and their work was often dismissed as “women’s work.”
Using an old amateur photograph of two women kissing further emphasizes the idea of reclaiming and reinterpreting history. By taking an image that was likely dismissed or hidden away by society and transforming it into a work of art, I am trying to subvert societal norms and celebrate the beauty of diversity and individuality.
The inclusion of this design element within “A Souvenir of a Day in the Country with You” speaks to the power of art to challenge and reshape societal expectations and norms. Or the pain of not being able to do so, as queer and female artists are still marginalized or only used for queering art institutions and polishing their diverse images.
Lastly, this carpet was also inspired by a very personal encounter. And tries to keepsake it.
Through the fusion of different ideas of pain and artistic expression, “A Souvenir of a Day in the Country with You” offers a unique and deeply moving perspective on the role of art in our lives.
“A Souvenir of a Day in the Country with You” serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of recognizing and embracing the full spectrum of human experience and artistic practice.
My artistic practice makes me want to cry because I feel like I can never be soft. I want to be seen as human. It makes me want to cry because I feel like I can never be authentic. And maintaining a perfect image of the artist feels exploratory towards me. It makes me want to cry because it lives with the art school-taught premise that “good” art can never be personal. It makes me want to cry because it doesn’t shield me from the art world but teaches me to adapt and move on. It makes me want to cry because it means giving myself up to be seen. It makes me want to cry because I constantly have to recontextualize myself and give myself up to be seen.
My artistic practice makes me want to cry because it is destruction. It is more than 24/7. My artistic practice makes me want to cry because I have to do everything myself. I have to be responsible for everything all the time. And sometimes I don’t want to know how to fix things besides myself. I Don’t want to be my production firm. I don’t want to manage myself.
My artistic practice makes me want to cry because I am constantly under pressure. To produce to perform.
Surviving makes me want to cry. My endless search makes for meaning makes me want to cry.
My artistic practice makes me want to cry because I don’t want to suffer through overstepping my boundaries and pushing my body for a greater cause. Seeing my art as a calling makes me want to cry. I don’t want to sacrifice myself. I do not want to do care work for a world of outsiders.
My artistic practice makes me want to cry because being financially unstable makes me want to cry. Three days ago, I read: an artist without funding is no artist. I don’t want to be discovered by the art world. I don’t want to capitalize on creating art. Capitalizing on art makes me want to cry.
My artistic practice makes me want to cry because it means fighting against the people who should be your friends and allies. It means not engaging too much. My artistic practice makes me want to cry because whenever I am “succeeding” in this art world I feel like a hypocrite.
My artistic practice makes me want to cry because it means comparing myself to others.
It makes me want to cry because it means withstanding dismissal by other artists. My artistic practice makes me want to cry because it means constantly defending myself.
In a contemporary context artistic practice always causes pain. While a more traditional definition might only see the origin of pain and suffering in art-making connected to inner factors such as deep levels of personal reflection, vulnerability, and the willingness to push boundaries and challenge oneself as well as the process of creating art (which can be physically demanding, especially for those who work with their hands or require long periods of time in a sedentary position), a more modern definition might also consider outer factors causing artists in practice immense pain and suffering. Such as the patriarchal structures and class war dominating the art schools, art scene and the art market, causing the artistic practice to become political art itself. And even though an artistic practice might cause artists crying it is no battle cry. It is a new form of crying. A hybrid one. Causing artists to directly and metaphorically weep. Always renewing the pain. Always adapting to pain. Causing greater pain. All in all, artistic practice can be defined as artistic crying.
Once I encountered the data set of Robin Weis , I knew I wanted to create a physical data representation of crying data. Specifically, my idea was to create a data physicalisation: a physical artefact that represent data through it material and geometric properties . Data physicalisations have been created for centuries (see dataphys.org/list), however, no known example represents crying data.
Initially, I wanted to use Weis’ data set, as this would allow me to use a ‘large’ data set on crying, rather than having to create one from scratch and only have the time to create a small data set. However, whilst developing concepts, I realised that I missed the personal connection to the data and that certain aspects –the more qualitative aspects, such as the emotion behind the cry– were missing. Therefore, I tracked my own crying data, based on the categories created by Weis. To this I added the emotion behind the tears, and left out the time and duration of the cry, as I wanted to focus on the experience—not tracking the data. This resulted in the following set of 8 cries:
Whilst creating this data set, I started to think of what a physicalisation of cries would look like. During my presentation, I already stated that: “I don’t want to design a fountain”. Although I must admit that this would be fun, it felt too ‘easy’ and I wanted to challenge myself by imposing the limitation of not representing tears through water. Instead, I decided to focus on the idea of tears leaving our body and brining those tears back, which inspired me to create a data physicalisation which you can eat : where the cries are communicated through taste and texture. Thus the question became, what do tears taste like?
A small background on the taste of tears:
Our tears are composed of water, oils, proteins, and electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium . Due to the electrolytes, tears have a salty taste. There are 3 types of tears: basal/continuous, reflex, and emotional tear . The emotional tears ‘flush out’ stress hormones, whilst at the same time releasing hormones which make you feel better, such as endorphins. Because of this composition, emotional tears are the least salty .
Based on the background research, I decided to create chocolate bonbons (chocolate contains endorphins after all), to represent my 8 crying episodes. The bonbon would consist of a ganache and a galette. Each galette is made by boiling glucose syrup and chocolate to 145 degrees Celsius, pouring the liquid on a piece of baking paper to let it cool down, after which it is blended till a powder, which can be evenly distributed using a sieve. The shape and size of the galette would represent the intensity of a cry. The taste of the ganache and galette represents the emotion (Figure 1).
However, an experiment with the galette showed that I could not control the shape: the galette melted and expanded in the oven; even after freezing it first (Figure 2). Therefore, I decided to focus on the texture of the galette to represent the intensity, where I based the texture on conceptual metaphors (e.g., rough is bad, in this case angry) . Besides texture, I would further use the intensity of the taste to represent the intensity of the cry. Thus, both the texture and intensity of the taste represent the intensity of the cry.
The taste of the bonbons represents the emotion of the cry, for which I was inspired by a blog post, which states that the chemical composition of tears changes their taste: angry tears would consist of a lower concentration of moisture and have a higher sodium concentration (thus being saltier), sad tears taste more acidic, and happy tears are supposedly sweeter . I could not find scientific papers to back up these statements. Therefore, this only served as inspiration and is not something I consider to be proven.
Inspired by this, I created the following mappings:
Very salty. As anger is often associated with heat, these bonbons contain chilli to make them spicy. The base of the bonbons is dark, bitter chocolate (80%).
Salty and acidic, through a higher concentration of lemon juice in the home made glucose syrup. The bonbons are based on milk chocolate, so they are less bitter than the angry tears.
Less rough, by baking it at a lower temperature. However, the texture is still perceivable when eating the galette.
Sweet and salty, the bonbons are based on white chocolate for intense sweetness.
Glossy and smooth
This mapping was applied to the bonbons, which consist of: (1) a ganache base, made of the respective chocolate (white=happy, milk=sad, pure=angry), salt, and in case of angry, chili, and (2) a chocolate galette made of sugar, the respective chocolate, and home made glucose syrup. The glucose syrup was made by boiling water, sugar, and lemon juice to a 118 degrees Celsius, which allowed me to control the acidity levels. Overall, I created the following bonbons per emotion:
Together these bonbons resulted in the following overall data physicalisation:
1. Nicholas M. Farandos, Ali K. Yetisen, Michael J. Monteiro, Christopher R. Lowe, and Seok Hyun Yun. 2015. Contact Lens Sensors in Ocular Diagnostics. Advanced Healthcare Materials 4, 6: 792–810. https://doi.org/10.1002/adhm.201400504
2. Florian ’ Floyd’ Mueller, Sarah Goodwin, Han Phan, Rohit Khot, Kim Marriott, Jionghao Lin, Yan Wang, Tim Dwyer, Jialin Deng, Kun-Ting Chen, and Kim Mar-Riott. Data as Delight: Eating data; Data as Delight: Eating data. https://doi.org/10.1145/3411764.3445218
3. William H. Frey, Denise Desota-Johnson, Carrie Hoffman, and John T. McCall. 1981. Effect of Stimulus on the Chemical Composition of Human Tears. American Journal of Ophthalmology 92, 4: 559–567. https://doi.org/10.1016/0002-9394(81)90651-6
4. Jörn Hurtienne, Christian Stößel, and Katharina Weber. 2009. Sad is heavy and happy is light. In Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Tangible and Embedded Interaction – TEI ’09 (TEI ’09), 61. https://doi.org/10.1145/1517664.1517686
5. Yvonne Jansen, Pierre Dragicevic, Petra Isenberg, Jason Alexander, Abhijit Karnik, Johan Kildal, Sriram Subramanian, and Kasper Hornbæk. 2015. Opportunities and Challenges for Data Physicalization. In Proceedings of the 33rd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 3227–3236. https://doi.org/10.1145/2702123.2702180
6. Eunah Lee Kwon. 2008. Different Tears Different Taste. University Newspaper. Retrieved from http://smtimes.sookmyung.ac.kr/news/articleView.html?idxno=286
7. Robin Weis. 2016. Crying. Retrieved from http://robinwe.is/explorations/cry.html
Tränen bestehen zu 98% aus Wasser. Wasser finden wir überall auf dieser Welt weshalb dieser Stoff zu recht auch als Baustein des Lebens bezeichnet wird. Über Wasser denken wir nicht nach. Wir denken nicht nach wieviel davon in unsere Essen steckt, in der Luft oder in uns selbst. Wir versuchen Wasser zu meiden indem wir daraus Limonade machen, Kaffee oder Tee. Über Tränen wird nachgedacht. Wir bilden uns Meinungen, verhandeln diese auf emotionaler Basis, tauschen uns darüber aus oder weinen im Stillen. Was steckt also hinter diesen 2%?
Wasser an sich, und so auch Tränen, können die verschiedensten Formen annehmen. Auch Tränen können frieren, sich verflüssigen und ebenso verdampfen, sie nehmen Gestalt an, verändern diese wieder, verbinden sich, stoßen sich ab, sinken ein, perlen herunter, sammeln sich oder verschwinden. Wie verhalten sich Tränen zu der Umwelt? Nicht nur zu mir? Wie tritt ein losgelöster Teil von mir in Kontakt mit meinem Umfeld? Ist es überhaupt ein Teil meiner selbst? Hat jemals zu mir gehört?
Ich bemerke, dass das Verhalten meiner Tränen meine Emotionen beeinflusst. Ich kann ihnen bewusst beim Verlassen meiner selbst zusehen, wie sie sich verselbstständigen, wie ich Kontrolle verliere, wie ich sauer auf sie werde, wenn sie mein Gesicht hinunter laufen und ohne zögern in meinem Pullover verschwinden. Ich kann sie genauso wenig kontrollieren wie meine Emotionen die sich dabei fast sprunghaft bilden.
Ich ertappe mich dabei, sie auf verschiedene Untergründe tropfen zu lassen und mich damit auseinander zu setzen. Wieviel Zeit vergeht bis sie verschwinden? Wieso finde ich das gut/ schrecklich? Ich werde bockig wenn sie auf Stoff landen, sich verflüchtigen, einen Fleck von sich selbst hinterlassen, mit dem ich mich nicht mehr identifizieren kann. Ich bin wütend, wenn meine Tränen versiegen, ohne Spur, als ob sie selbst und meine Gefühle die sie ausgelöst hatten keine Bedeutung tragen würden.
Ich tropfe sie auf die Erde meiner Zimmerpflanze und frage mich, ob diese nach 100 Tränen eingeht, oder ob ich spinne. Ob es wahr ist, dass Pflanzen schlechte Laune spüren. Bisher ist noch nichts passiert.
Ich tropfe sie auf eine Glasplatte und zwinge sie so lang mit mir zu bleiben, bis ich ihnen das Verschwinden gestatte. Das ist schließlich das mindeste, was sie mir schulden. Mit mir zu verweilen und alles zu fühlen oder nichts zu fühlen oder zu denken und nicht zu denken was ich will.
So sitzen wir dann da. Wir starren uns an. Jeder wartet auf das Verschwinden des Anderen. Dennoch bin ich die einzige die bleibt. Die Träne verschwindet irgendwann. Aber es gibt mir Zeit mich zu fokussieren, meine Gedanken zu sammeln. So bin ich nicht sauer, sondern beruhigt, wenn die Zeit angemessen ist, wenn ich mit dem Verschwinden der Tränen und dem Verweilen von mir selbst Frieden geschlossen habe. Sonst fühle ich mich zurückgelassen. Ein Grund noch mehr zu weinen.
Zeit bis zum Verschwinden der Träne
mein Gefühl nach dem Verschwinden
sauer, wütend, bockig
bekümmert, betrübt, mürrisch
beruhigt, sorglos, ruhig, gelassen
erleichtert, gelangweilt, leer,
How long until it disappears? Zu kurz. Meistens zu kurz. Manchmal genau richtig. Oder zu lang.
Art therapy helps us to understand and depict psychological processes. It is often used when you do not know more and cannot express your problems in words.
In our work on this topic, we started a self-experiment:
What does crying look like for us?
What do we feel when we cry and how can we express our feelings?
During my self-experiment, two snapshots of my drawing were taken. While I described the former as more excited and dynamic, and the latter as calmer, I noticed in the following discourse that the Institute determined it differently.
What brings us to these different descriptions?
The institute could only look and analyse the two static images and drew its conclusions from the observation of these.
However, I could still feel the movements that led to the two pictures.
The first picture was created by wild and fast movements and the second by calm and relaxing strokes over the previous painting.
So I remembered the performative gestures during the painting and therefore drew different conclusions from my works.
In art therapy, is the process also important to the result of the expression of feelings?
Are performative processes during painting equally important and relevant for art therapy?
For a sufficient and in-depth analysis of the psychic processes, both are probably balanced. One could even say that the behavior before painting should also be included in the analysis.
This allows you to better understand the person’s feelings.
Expressing and portraying my own feelings was a new and interesting experience for me. I had to deal with my feelings, which I usually tend to suppress in part.
While words could not have described what I was feeling at that moment, the pictures could.