Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Outside Looking In--Exploration of Perceptions



I've been thinking a lot lately about my perceptions of my body.

I still plan on doing a lot of knitting, but I'm going to be working a lot of stuff out in my head with embroidery for a while.
I'm thinking beyond "body image" to the mental pictures I carry with me of my own inner workings--bones, organs, chemicals.





After the deaths of my brother and two of his children in the last year (and also the recent death of my brother-in-law) I have really wanted to know what it means to have a body, especially my own. I also want to think about how my perceptions of my body affect its function and how its function affect my perceptions.

I used to work in a medical laboratory. When drawing a woman's blood once, she was greatly concerned about the color of blood in the vial. "Is it that dark because I drink too much?" she asked. I told her that it was venous blood and the dark color was normal. "What color would it be if I were drinking too much?" she asked. I told her it would probably be the same. I couldn't, however, convince her, even after showing her specimens from other people, that her blood looked normal. To her, it looked dark because she drank too much beer.

How do I see my own body systems? I mostly picture them as two-dimensional drawings. I picture brightly colored digestive organs--a bright green gallbladder with a dashed outline indicating that it has been removed. My brain is always a sideways pen and ink drawing. (As seen in my last post.) Chemicals and hormones are always candy colored.
Today's exploration is dedicated to my lungs. Due to panic attacks/allergies/asthma, I always think of my lungs as tiny and funereal blue. The perfect little baby balloons that fill with air are missing. The diaphragm is always a thinly sliced sliver instead of the strong sheet of muscle.



4 comments:

Stabbed! said...

Love the lungs! As I've had at least 8 weeks of bronchitis (so far!) this winter, I'd should be "celebrating" that part of my body. I've been brain-obsessed (http://stabbed.wordpress.com/2007/04/19/neo-cortextiles/ just search on brain on my site and you'll see) for too long. You might also like David Byrne's embroideries on upholstery, if you haven't seen them (http://www.davidbyrne.com/art/chairs/index.php)yes, the rock star); a little like yours in approach.

Kelly said...

Seriously cool project. I recently started physical therapy after breaking my arm, and have a great therapist who explains what's going on inside - bones, tendons, lymph system - as he's working. It's fascinating.

karla said...

your embroidery is beautiful. i'm a massage therapist and am constantly learning about the human body and my own. i knit too. your honesty and interpretation is truly inspirational.

Della said...

Good words.