As I look back over this terms work, I'd like to talk about a few images that have meant a great deal to me. When I first started taking self-portraits it was purely to articulate a way I felt about myself and my social anxieties. I recognise that my work has developed and changed since I started the Day-By-Day Visual Journal, but underlying elements of my always present demon still exists in the work. 'Day One' was probably a big moment for myself, I'd found what I wanted to focus on, finally found that missing link from my art work that everyone else around me strived on. It was also my first confession, 'this is me' it's never easy to describe the way my anxieties feel, and this felt deeply personal to me. To be this intimate and open about myself to my peers and family was terrifying and freeing.
'Day Five' and 'Day Seventeen' were really important images to me at the time. They felt very real to me, showing aspects of my life that I only share with one person, with everyone that I know. The images incorporated something very reminiscent of my previous work and excited me with the prospect of new ideas. These are the only two images in the whole of this terms work where there is someone other than me in the image. Although I decided not to explore the idea of these intimate images further, I would like to come back to this framework and concept at a later date.
"Intimacy is the capacity to be rather weird with someone - and finding that that’s okay with them."— Alain de Botton
"It's not all bad. Heightened self-consciousness, apartness, an inability to join in, physical shame and self-loathing—they are not all bad. Those devils have been my angels. Without them I would never have disappeared into language, literature, the mind, laughter and all the mad intensities that made and unmade me." - Stephen Fry -
'Day Six' and 'Day Eleven' were monumental images in the series. Here was born the iconic bath image that I frequently use in my practice now, the images gave me a sense of what I'd like to focus on in the future. Not only were these images very much about the creative and aesthetic aspects, but it was a very serious concept that I had thought about a lot. I wanted to create this overwhelming feeling, and I wanted to do it correctly. Social Anxiety, for me, can very much feel like getting into a bath fully clothed. It's uncomfortable, exhausting and makes your entire body feel heavy. When I thought about this image, the idea of suicide was a not a thought I was putting into the work, it was very much about how it feels, not what it is. Although I'm sure viewers are able to take what they want from the images, and I encourage people who feel similar to me to know that you're not alone. With these two sets of images I also became more confident with how I was capturing these images, using a remote which will be visible in most of these images, I decided that I didn't give a shit if people could see it, - at least I was taking them myself.
Before this image, nearly all but 2 were confined to the indoors, and the 2 that were outside were less than 10ft away from my front door. 'Day Eighteen' was a whole different situation, I had ventured far away from the comforts of my home and decided today was the day that you are brave. Taking this image was indeed a trial, I was completely shitting myself to expose myself like this, where people would see me being so odd or vain. I was terrified that someone may run off with my tripod and camera as I lay on a wall. But it felt almost powerful to produce this image and post it on Instagram. I'd opened up a whole set of endless locations with this image, and I was happy for it.
You know that feeling when its like a lightbulb has exploded in your head? Well that's what 'Day Twenty' was for me. I'd had this idea of using milk in a bath and I wondered how it would look, what sort of images I'd be able to take and what would they mean to me. Whilst I explored the aesthetics of all my images throughout this series I felt that the milky bath image really stood out. Although this first example only focuses on the headshot and I didn't think to edit out the lumps of milk powder at the time, this is where my work first took shape, and I go on to use the milk continuously in the series, contributing to my final images. At first I wanted to recreate 'Day Eleven' with high angled body shots, but I wasn't comfortable with what I had chosen to wear, (the clothing for me was to tight and see through) and also I couldn't get the right angle again. But the headshots in my opinion were successful, the translucent and opaqueness of the liquid combined made me extremely happy and excited for future shoots!
Two breakthroughs were made here on 'Day Twenty-Seven', 1. I learnt how to create different coloured baths, by mixing dyes and paints.
2. I first started to explore the ideas of 'The Doppelganger'
I have to admit taking photos in a bath full of blue paint and milk fully clothed is not comfortable at all, it feels absolutely horrible and soggy. But the fact that this process was uncomfortable for me, meant that these images had greater depth for me as an artist.
I began using 'Layout', an add on from Instagram, that allows you to mirror and combine images together. I started to mirror images that made my body look surreal and eerie, it made people say 'ewww Paige' and I found the reaction interesting and a little disheartening, however i strived onwards as master creeper.
These were the first shoots i'd set up where the 'doppelganger' aesthetic was thought about. Again i'd embraced the outdoor world. If it wasn't weird enough taking images of yourself looking wistfully into the distance, scowling at thin air was even worse. These shoots probably didn't last longer than half an hour, so I could escape back to the confines of my cave in the studios. The way the two Paige's interact with each other in the top image was crucial in my project, I'd found a niche that was interesting to work with.
I was interested in the idea of dual personalities. Parts of ourselves can have disturbing thoughts that other parts of us would think horrifying, and I wanted to explore these ideas in a visual concept.
"She's just two personas struggling in one dominance"
"Sometimes we want what we want even if we know it’s going to kill us." ~ Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch -
'Day Thirty-One' and 'Day Thirty-Two'.
The big ones. The 'WE'VE MADE IT PAIGE.'
The moment I had edited these images, I knew this is what I wanted to create more of. The biggest issue with these images were that PRETENDING TO DROWN IS ACTUALLY LIKE DROWNING. Water in my nose, Paige could not breath and was unable to stay under the water for a long time to take better images, also it's hard to hear if the camera has taken the image when you're underwater, but hey ho, it was a start. What was really entrancing about these images was the fact that how different the states of the Paige's were in. One completely dressed and dry and the other wet, half naked and appearing to be drowning and perhaps dead in the day after.
At this point in the series I had decided that because I wanted to focus on the bath image completely and refine it I would take a number of images of in one sitting, and edit them throughout the week. The Red bath was interesting to me because i was able to incorporate my new found technique of photoshopping multiple Paige's into one image.
'Day Thirty-Eight' is my favourite image from this set, it totally summed up exactly where I wanted the work to go, there was a distinct relationship of eye contact between the camera and the other Paige.
These images are probably my favourite in the 50 days of photos. There was a precise amount of domesticity, that I felt was important to the progression in the work that led me to be able to distinguish two separate series of images. As I got closer to perfecting an aesthetic I began to feel disconnected from how I had started out the project. In doing this project, taking and producing images every single day I had kept myself busy and focussed on something that wasn't my anxieties. I had surrounded myself with friends and allowed myself to be vulnerable with them. Perhaps by actually expressing my anxiety in images I had healed parts of myself, I had been completely honest and not hidden behind my Social Anxiety, yet embraced the darkest parts of me.
"Most people think that shadows follow, precede or surround beings or objects. The truth is that they also surround words, ideas, desires, deeds, impulses and memories."- Elie Wiesel