Me, Myself and I
This exercise is similar to some I have done previously. When I started IAP I thought about identity (including my own) at some length, What is Identity? and Theories of Identity In CAN I also thought about identity and ended up making a series of images about the chairs in my house where I sit My Spaces.
Listing aspects of your own personality is difficult. Identity and personality are not the same, although personality is part of your identity. Identity can be broken down into several aspects:
- Who you are to other people:
- daughter (still relevant although both my parents are dead)
- Person who goes to your café regularly
- What your interests are:
- Collecting (mainly bears)
- Historical places (castles, houses)
- Where you live (and how that defines you)
- My room
- My house
- United Kingdom
- Race, ethnicity and religion
- Unreligious but interested in all
- Gender (in the widest sense)
None of these really explain my personality – but all go towards making it up. I am also:
- Kind (usually)
- Patient (usually) – but have a real temper when things go wrong
- Intelligent – academic
- Understanding of other people’s emotions
- Odd sense of humour (some people say I don’t have one)
- A loner
- Not feminine
Someone else could descibe their personality in exactly the same way – but without having any similarities in the list of ‘identity criteria’ I have listed above.
Out of interest I took several online personality tests. Obviously, the results of these are only as good as the information that you put in! And on how truthful you are! And on how well you know yourself to begin with!
Oddly enough they all came out with similar results. The first is based on the standard Myers-Briggs’ 16 categories of personalities which is very well researched, and if I am honest does describe me well.
The second is a more visual test – looking at pictures rather than asking questions – but again was fairly accurate.
So – how can you take pictures that describe your personality?
It is (relatively) easy to show some of the aspects – but almost impossible to show others. One of the ways to show your personality is to show the things you are interested in, as this will give an idea of what makes you ‘tick’. Another way would be to take pictures of people you are engaged with and ask than to give a short (one sentence, or preferably one word) description of you as a person. In a wider sense you could look at the community you are involved in, where you live, what you do, what’s around you and show that. But – how do you show kindness, or patience, or diligence?
I decided to start by thinking about the things I am interested in that make up part of my identity, and therefore contribute to my personality. I could have just taken a series of images without including myself – a pile of books, my piano and so on but decided to try to take pictures of me involved in these activities. I settled on taking pictures of my hands doing things. This was harder to do than to say. Hands actually tell you a lot about the person.
- I bite my nails – therefore I am anxious
- I wear a wedding ring
- I have a Fitbit – so I try to exercise – or at least pretend that I do
- They are wrinkled – therefore older
- White and freckled – therefore Caucasian
- I enlisted the help of my son as a stand in to enable me to set up the images and get the focus correct
- The images were taken indoors- so I used a tripod and flash
- I looked for neutral backgrounds
- I considered using a cable release myself – but that altered the hand position so ended up with my assistant actually pressing the release
What do these tell me about my personality?
- I have a range of interests
- Most of these interests are solitary (at least the ones I have shown)
- I tend to be anxious
- I don’t like showing my face in photos (shy, introverted)
- Patient (knitting needs patience)
How could this be taken further?
To explain a personality, you need a wide variety of images. To develop a body of work about your own personality is difficult as in many ways everything you take expresses how you are, as you would not take that subject if you were not interested/involved. If I was developing this further, I would move towards doing two pieces of work:
- The images of people who I am involved with together with the single word/sentence about what they think of me
- Images of me taken by the same people, with them choosing the setting
Those images could then be paired, looking out and looking in.