Name: Lawson Hung

Region: Chicago

Concept: Sensation

Sub-concept: Taste, Psychosis, Bipolar Disorder

Description: Josh Marks was a runner-up in the Masterchef competition, and it lead to his professional cooking career. At the height of his career however, he began having episodes of psychosis which eventually lead to his suicide.

Interpretation: Most people would think that Josh Marks would be celebrating, being at the height of his cooking career. Someone as successful as him would be spending nights out with friends, toasting to the kickoff of his career. However, this was not the case. Soon after winning the Masterchef competition, Marks began hearing voices. This would be the beginning of his downfall. He would no longer be able to cook professionally, messing with his sense of taste. His ability to taste test would forever be changed after this instance. He then loses consciousness and blacks out behind the wheel of his car, causing a multi-car collision. In the hospital, Marks would be put in a 72 hour psychiatric hold, and he would talk about how his father had died and that Gordon Ramsey had died. Marks was quickly losing his senses and his ability to think straight. The psychiatrist would diagnose Marks with bipolar disorder and psychosis. This would be the official end to his cooking career. Marks would no longer be able to taste test professionally and would no longer be able to cook. The sensation of being tied down is excruciating, as one can not move their arms or legs. It is a tiring experience, and soon, one would begin to fear being bored and lonely after being tied down for so long. They would long for someone to open the door to the room, be it the doctor, a relative to visit, or even just a nurse. Being trapped in the confines of the four white walls would soon take its toll and Marks would eventually stop talking nonsense. He was discharged from the hospital three days afterwards and sent home.

Soon however, Marks had many more psychotic episodes. At one point, the voices in his head were so loud that he shot himself in the ear. In an attempt to end the sensation of hearing, he shot himself in the ear so that the voices would no longer tell him to die. The voices in his head must have been extremely loud and annoying for him to do such a thing. Once again, Marks was put in the hospital. This time however, he was discharged with another diagnosis, paranoid schizophrenia. Soon afterwards, he would shoot himself in the head with a gun, leading to his death. The fact that Marks shot himself in the ear is a sign that the voices in his head were excruciating, that hearing had been too much for him. He would no longer be the professional chef he once was, no longer being able to taste.

Link: http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/July-2014/Josh-Marks/

Name: Brooke Morton

Concept: Death

Region: China

Sub-Concepts: Thought, Completion



In the Chinese culture, death is often regarded in the highest respects. Death is described as a climactic point of life in which for the coming death, a person is to do their duty to society as best they can, knowing that life is near end. Although there seems to be little religion in China, presently, the Chinese have specific rituals, like mandatory cremation, and a certain day to commemorate the dead.



If death is fast approaching, the Chinese believe that they need to be the best they have ever been. The term “go out with a bang” comes to mind. The phrase is commonly said when it is the last performance or event. It is the idea of walking away from something at its highest point.

The Chinese think similarly about death. They believe that death deserves to take life at its highest point. It preserves the courage, glory, and awe of the climax moment in life. In addition, the Chinese visit with the memories of the dead once a year on April 5th. The holiday, Qing-ming, is also known as Tomb Sweeping Day. The deceased are visited by loved ones who bear gifts on flowers, fruit, and cake which are placed at the grave after being cleaned and cleared. Families also bring fake money to the graves sometimes. It is a sign of peace between someone who often lucid dreams of the deceased.

In China, however, the government asks that the bodies of the dead be burned. After, being cremated the ashes of the deceased are put in a box and buried. The reason for this is simply because of a concern for space. Caskets obviously take up a much larger area than a small box. Therefore, more land is left available for future burials.

Death is thought to be terrifying, however, Jonathan Sim, Author of “Death as the Ultimate Climax of Life”, states “I think when we begin to see death as the ultimate climax, the ultimate wrapping up of one’s life, where the multitude of one’s personal experiences lead up to that one final performance, I think the idea of death becomes very ennobling and empowering.”

Death is inescapable, yet people run from it. The sooner that death is accepted as, not only part of life, but possibly the greatest part of life, the easier it will be to accept it.

Sources: http://themyriadthoughts.wordpress.com/2013/01/05/death-as-the-ultimate-climax-of-life/




Hong Kong protesters divided as deadline looms to clear streets

Name: Kenza Mouaqit

Concept: Language

Region: Hong Kong

Sub-Concepts: Protest, Violence, Power

Description: In the past few weeks, demonstrators including students and pro-democracy activists have been protesting in Hong Kong as they demand that elections be fully democratic. On the other hand, China promised direct elections, but the people will have to choose from a list of pre-approved candidates.

Interpretation: When thoughts and opinions are communicated through protests, the power of these thoughts intensifies as the whole world becomes more aware of a certain situation. The mediums of communication in protests in general is usually loud words, aggressive gestures, and sometimes violence. However, these Hong Kong protests depict another view of violence: one through art. The protest is now symbolized by “the Umbrella Man” which was “inspired by the image of a protester holding an umbrella to shield a police officer from the rain”. The Umbrella Man is a 10-foot tall statue built of wood, which represents a man holding an umbrella. This statute now symbolizes the fight for democracy, as protesters are now using umbrellas to “shield themselves from pepper spray fired by police”. Many other artists and students are using newly created artwork as symbolism of their protest against the Chinese election decision. These may be perceived as a form of language, one that expresses their thoughts and beliefs through the use of their creative skills and talents of art. The use of art as a language portrays the voices of those who want to share their thoughts without physically being present at the protest scenes. The power of expression through art is demonstrated through the use of simple paper and ink, and sometimes yields greater reactions than the act of walking around and protesting.

Links: http://www.cnn.com/2014/10/08/world/asia/hong-kong-protest-art/

Image: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/hong-kong-civil-servants/1400142.html?cid=cna_editorspick_070814



 Name: Natalie Reta
Concept: Loss
Sub-Concepts: Life, Permanence, Immutable, and Conservation

Perpetual Pet is a company that uses new techniques in freeze dry technology to offer a “loving and lasting” alternative to burial cremation or traditional taxidermy after a pet has passed. The freeze-dry technique preserves your pet in a natural state without any alternation in appearance. This means that even though the animals are dead, they look alive; or at least like they are sleeping. This allows pet owners to touch them and hold them while being able to keep them in their houses after they have passed.

Click Here: MICKEY

Perpetual Pet started after an eighteen-year-old dog –named Naomi, passed away. The owners were so distressed by the death of their pet that they created a way of preserving the body to be able keep it with them. Forever. They did not like taxidermy -because it looked really ugly, so they came up with a new idea. This is where the “perpetual pet” title comes in. After seeing that a lot of people were suffering from the loss of their pets, they extended their services and expanded their horizons onto the Internet. For a modest price –calculated by the weight of your pet, one can ship the dead body of your pet, and get it shipped back once it has been dried frozen. The owner can pick the position that they want the animal to be in and in what context. This will allow the owner to place their pet in whichever room of the house they prefer.

The psychology of modern society has changed. People are terrified of change and people are terrified of loss. As medicine has improved, our desire to live forever has grown. We are profoundly attached to our technology, as we cannot be without a cellphone or a computer. Adolescents suffer from FOB or “fear of missing out”. We have a necessity to be present everywhere via the use of social media. Even after we die all our social accounts and our life is posted on the “cloud”, as a proof that we existed. We want to be even when we are not. Sometimes we transpose that desire to the thing that surround us in an attempt to stay connected to the world. The death-drive that Freud argued for is long gone. As the website portrays it, “we really never have to let go”.

Source: http://www.perpetualpet.net/index.html

Ps: I invite you to browse through the photos/gallery of the website. It is insane how real the animals really look like. Also, the comments of the people that have used the service are really interesting.

Seduced to Murder

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Name: Stela Maksutaj

Region/Concept: New Hampshire/ Seduction

Death, Hatred, Manipulation

Description: Pamela Smart, a former HS media coordinator seduces a 16 year-old student, William Flynn, to kill her husband. Smart first engages her student into a steamy romance, promising love and sexual rewards. Smart would threaten Flynn with rejection if he didn’t do as she said, testing his love for her. Flynn pleaded guilty to fatally shooting Pamela Smart’s husband, later confessing how Smart pulled off the seduction of her murderous plan.

Interpretation: The seductress in this case knew her objective from the start: seduce William Flynn to commit the murder of her husband. At first, she attracted the 16 year old on a sexual level. Through offering a mature-like relationship, and introducing a steamy romance, she reels the student in to trusting her and needing her. Smart made herself the sole source of sexual activity for the student, creating a deeper and deeper connection with him on a mental and physical level. Smart even took the virginity of the student, creating a greater connection with him mentally. Once she has him on a lock sexually, she emotionally destabilizes him. Smart begins to tell Flynn that she would lose her dog, home, all her money, and have to move in with her mother if she divorces her husband, extinguishing all other possibilities. Murder seems to be the “only” way Smart could survive, and she uses this as the driving force that will eventually convince Flynn of her plan. She would continuously ask if Flynn loved her, and would try to test his love by setting him up to how far he would go for her love. Because Flynn is so deeply engaged in Smart’s spell, he feels threatened and worthless without the attention he is receiving. By convincing Flynn that murder is the only way to end her madness, in addition to enticing him by calling him her “hero,” Smart succeeds in fully seducing Flynn into her murderous plot. Flynn wants to fulfill his self worth, and be an influential person in Smart’s life. Flynn kills Greg Smart to hold onto his heightening love affair with Smart, and only after is aware of how he was brainwashed. It only took Smart seducing Flynn to fall in love with her to manipulate him to commit murder on her behalf.


Method Acting

Name: Charlotte Widjaja

Concept: Sacrifice

Sub-concepts: Excess, Madness, Reality/Illusion

Description: Method acting is one of the most provocative, fascinating, and publicized form of sacrifice that continues to gain popularity among actors and their audiences. Adrien Brody, best known for his role in The Pianist, embraces the lifestyle of method acting, and goes to great lengths to transform into the character he is set to play.

Interpretation: Adrien Brody, now 41 years old, indulges in the practice of method acting, and firmly believes that in order to properly take on the role of a particular character, the actor must be in the same emotional, physical, and intellectual state as that character. This belief embodies everything that method acting aims to accomplish, in that it forces the actor to create a lifelike and accurate portrayal of a character’s personality, thoughts, and feelings. Brody, who played the main character Szpilman in The Pianist, spent a considerable amount of time and effort to recreate an experience similar to that of Szpilman. The movie is based on an autobiography of Szpilman, who recounts his life as a Polish-Jewish pianist during World War II, in which he greatly struggled to survive through the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto. In order to truly step into the shoes of Szpilman, Brody sacrificed most everything of value in his life during this time period, in preparation for the film. To experience and encourage a sense of loss, Brody decided to give up his apartment, forego his belongings, sell his car, and disconnect his phone, essentially separating him from any contact with his routine, daily comfortable lifestyle. To experience loneliness and isolation, Brody packed two bags, his keyboard, and moved Europe. He willingly gave up his long-term girlfriend, who quickly left him as he fully committed himself to his work. Brody practiced the piano for at least four hours a day, learning how to play Chopin to illustrate a lifelike depiction of the knowledge and skill Szpilman held with a keyboard. To feel the pain from hunger, to experience a life based on day to day survival, Brody practically lived on the streets in Europe and lost approximately 30 pounds. When Brody took on the role of Szpilman, he dedicated his entire self to feel the struggles, isolation, pain, and anger of his character. He traveled to extreme measures, and took many outlandish risks to sacrifice himself, a currently existing being, to become an entirely different person, a character of the past. In his following movie, The Jacket, he took on the role of Jack Starks, a war veteran who is sent to a mental institution where he becomes the lab rat for a doctor in the institution. During this film, Brody would remain in a straightjacket, restrained to a locked drawer both off and on camera. He would also remain in isolated chambers for long periods of time to really indulge in his character’s lonesome silence, and the experience of being trapped by four walls with only his own inner voices to keep him sane or turn him insane. The amount of sacrifice, and the form in which the sacrifice is made in the name of method acting is astounding. This type of sacrifice, with no regard to levels of extremity, is increasingly praised by the public, and the critics of these movies. From Shia La Bouf having sex on screen and dropping acid, to Heath Ledger experimenting with voices in a locked room for his role as the Joker, to Daniel Day Lewis eating only things he had physically killed during the film The Last of the Mohicans, and to Christian Bale who lost 122 pounds for his role in The Machinist, method acting evidently entails various provocative, yet compelling sacrifices that continue to surprise the audiences.

The extremity to which actors take on method acting illustrates the concept of excess, in which method actors do not set a limit to the lengths they are willing to travel to recreate the realities of their characters. The few actors just mentioned above, clearly show that drugs, weight loss, starvation, materialistic items, and most every aspect of their personal lives have no value or meaning once they commit to playing the role of their characters. There is an excess of sacrifice that occurs with method acting. This excess leads into madness, in that some actors are claimed to be mad, because they lack any boundaries and any regard to what exactly is an appropriate amount of dedication to a particular role. This madness often stems from actors’ struggle in deciphering their own reality from the illusion. Those who practice method acting often lose themselves in their characters. After the filming of the movie is complete, the actors have sacrificed so much to become a particular character that in the end, part of the character does not leave the actor. In this sense, the distinction of acting as a character, which is the illusion, and the actual person acting as the character outside of filming, which is the reality, becomes vague and ambiguous. The actors will then take bits, pieces, or even whole parts of their on screen characters into their reality. This can be seen with Heath Ledger’s death, in which his character as the Joker led to his overdoes of six different prescription drugs before the completion of the film. This inability to separate reality from illusion adds to the element of madness and excess in method acting. Once actors have passed onto the stage where the reality of who they are is blurred and combined with the illusion of the characters they have played, the boundaries of just how much they are willing to sacrifice to take on another role no longer exist. After the completion of one film, method actors are on to the next, constantly searching for the next challenge, for the next extreme that will push them far beyond their previous limits. Ordinary roles are now considered a bore. As their realities and illusions continue to mix, they are continuously sacrificing and morphing into different characters. The phrase, “the method to his madness,” encapsulates this phenomenon.


Link: http://www.theguardian.com/film/2006/nov/12/features.magazine


Turning People’s Cremated Remains into Diamonds


Name: Kayla Clark

Concept: Cruelty

SubConcepts: Obsession, Death, Sensation

Region: Switzerland

Description: Algordanza, a Swiss company, has created a service where people can take their loved ones cremated bodies, and turn it into a man-made diamond. The diamond services start at about $4,500 for a simple small diamond with no additional services.

Interpretation: It’s easy to look at this new trend and say it abhorring, disgusting, and unbelievably cruel. But, isn’t it also possible that this trend is taking cruelty, death, and despair and laughing at it? All individuals have felt the fear of the realization that one day, their loved ones will be taken away from them. The entire process is heart wrenching to say the least… The funeral, the crying, the empty condolences… The cruelest part of it all is knowing that your loved one’s dead corpse is rotting in the ground, soon to be devoured by maggots and other insects.

This new process allows for someone to take a piece of their loved ones and make it into something beautiful. The entire process of dying is cruel and ugly. There’s usually nothing beautiful, ascetically, about dying. Making ashes into diamonds makes dying a beautiful thing. It will allow people to cope with the realization that they will be dead one day. Is it not better to think that when you die, you will be turned into a very expensive diamond? Call it vanity, but I would like to be turned into a diamond, rather than be rotting in the ground.

These families that spend the money to make their loved ones into diamonds, have done something so beautiful that it’s both sickening and amazing. Cruelty uses death is order to unleash its full powers. It lives and breathes on the emptiness, sadness, and depression that death brings to people. This diamond process doesn’t eliminate the sadness that death brings, but it does make it more bearable. It ensures the individual that they can take their loved ones with them…even when they die…

Link: http://www.boredpanda.com/memorial-diamond-cremation-ashes-algordanza/


Name: Alexis Yioulos

Concept: Space

Sub-Concepts: Gender, Terror

Description:  CeCe McDonald’s case is just one of many wherein transgender women of color are attacked in public spaces. CeCe was then criminalized for responding to her attacker in self-defense, and was sentenced to 41-months in a men’s prison facility.

Interpretation: Gender violence is typically thought of in events such as Partition, where women were deliberately and systematically targeted in acts of extreme religious violence. This type of gender violence operated as a tactic of terror and revenge between religious groups. Today, gender violence still encapsulates the political, ideological, and social, but is made more pernicious in the emergence of trans* and gender-nonconforming movements.

When CeCe was attacked on the street for being a transgender woman and a person of color, the violence perpetrated against her was also a tactic of terror and revenge against her perceived body, experiences, and presence in that shared public space. CeCe’s personality, individual identity, and private life were not necessarily what led to her attack, but rather what she was perceived to represent by her attackers. Cece’s act of self-defense was met with placement in a men’s prison facility. CeCe, who identifies as a woman, was placed in a gendered space with which she did not identify, forcing her into a dangerous situation physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Spaces are increasingly gendered in a binary manner, in many ways facilitating violence against people with nonnormative bodies and identities. As gendered spaces are normalized, gender self-determination and expression are increasingly criminalized. Gendered bathrooms are a form of segregation which prohibits use of a necessary facility to certain segments of the population based on arbitrary and imposed gender markers. Conventions of language and culture also reinforce this type of segregation and targeting, constraining people by these categorizations which don’t necessarily fit them.

Link: http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/the-transgender-crucible-20140730

Kim Noble: The woman with 100 personalities

Name:                          Hein Myat Win Lwin

Concept:                      Fragmentation

Sub-Concepts:             Memory, Loss, Transformation



Kim Noble is a painter who suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder in which she has 100 separate personalities that inhabits within her. The main cause of her disorder seems to be the dysfunctional family that she grew up in where she had to suffer repeated abuse and neglect. The personalities that inhabit is a completely separate entity on their own and initially had no knowledge of the doings and the existence of the other personalities.


Kim Noble has multiple personalities that are completely separate from one another of various age, gender and tendencies. She has gone through several incidents in which one personality suffers the consequences of the actions done by other personalities. The multiple personalities are the result of Kim’s traumatizing childhood as the fragmentation of several different personalities allowed Kim to cope with her abuse by effectively switching to other identities that do not have memory over the events. Thereby, we can see that Kim Noble has effectively shattered her personality into several fragments that are able to function independently from one another. The fragmentation of self causes one to lose control of reality as each fragment carries on a different reality from the others. Thereby, the concept of time and memory gets divided up and allocated between each personality thereby, severely limiting the capabilities of developing oneself as whole as her body is forced to individually cater and expend its resources satisfy the desire of the dominant personality.  As there are multiple identities acting on their own volition without regards to the interests of the other parties involved, each personality would always be suffering the blame and punishment due to the actions committed by the other personalities. Thereby, an endless cycle of violence can form when the personality realizes that he/she will be suffering from perpetual blame and punishment that is caused by other personalities thus destroying an incentive of leading a moral and virtuous life.  Thereby, the chains of morality deteriorate as the identity will soon realize that the outcome will always be the same regardless of the type of lives they lead. So it will push all the identities towards the taboo and the wretched as the worst case scenario for an identity will be to suffer for the crime that he himself has committed which outweighs suffering the punishment of others while the others benefit from the virtuous life that he leads. Moreover, another form of violence manifests between the personalities as they struggle to take control of their only gateway to life. Thereby, there is an incentive in destroying and weakening the other personalities which can be achieved by causing the other personalities to suffer the punishment of one’s doings. Thereby, the body of the person with the disorder becomes the battleground for all the personalities to inflict pain and suffering on one another which ultimately affects all the parties involved.

Link: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2011/sep/30/kim-noble-woman-with-100-personalities

Slender Man Stabbing


Name: Caitie Benoit

Region: Wisconsin, United States

Concept: Pain

Sub-concepts: Violence, Excess, Maturity

Description: Two 12 year old girls brought their friend to a wooded area and stabbed her 19 times, attempting to murder their classmate in order to please the recently popular character Slender Man.

Interpretation: Video games and the internet have been becoming increasingly popular as technology continues to become a larger part of our society. Children are being allowed to play video games at younger ages and sometimes parents are not putting as much limitation on these games as they should be. Violence has also become a staple in a lot of modern video games such as Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty. Children have begun to learn that killing people in these video games will give them bonuses and extra points. Sometimes to children these games can lead into real life situations and they believe killing someone in real life will also help them earn extra points. The internet has also allowed for easier access to evil characters or games that have a violent background. Although most children don’t understand the basis of murder at such a young age, they still have the urges to commit these crimes.

These two young girls from Wisconsin had been exposed to the fictional character Slender Man on the internet and were willing to do anything to please and honor his wishes. It is said that they had been planning the murder of their 12 year old classmate for months and finally went through with their plan in order to gain the approval of the online character Slender Man. The two minds of the children had been shaped into thinking that murdering a friend would make Slender Man, a fictional character, approve of them in society. The two girls wanted to become proxies of Slender Man and the only way to accomplish this task was to murder someone.

Slender Man is often seen in images haunting young children as he is lurking behind trees on unsuspecting children. His persistent silence is said to drive people mad as they try and gain his following. The violent and evil images being placed on the internet and in video games today have a lasting effect on children in our society. If exposed to the wrong things, some children may believe the characters are real and carryout acts of murder or inflict pain in order to please the images of Slender Man or other evil beings.

Slender Man is often seen in images haunting young children as he is lurking behind trees on unsuspecting children. His persistent silence is said to drive people mad as they try and gain his following. The violent and evil images being placed on the internet and in video games today have a lasting effect on children in our society. If exposed to the wrong things, some children may believe the characters are real and carryout acts of murder or inflict pain in order to please the images of Slender Man or other evil beings.

Links: http://www.newsweek.com/2014/08/22/girls-who-tried-kill-slender-man-264218.html


Indian Man is Castrated by Vigilante Group

Ellie Davis

Concept: Nothingness

Region: India

Sub-concepts: Power, sacrifice, destruction, fragmentation, transformation.
Description: Indian man is castrated after allegedly attempting to rape a teenage girl.

Interpretation: Rapists are known to be power-obsessed and very proud of their masculinity.  Once this man got his genitals hacked off with a meat cleaver by a vigilante group his masculinity was destroyed with it.  Crimes against women are very common in India but a few good citizens are standing up to fight for the cause.  The way they see it is that by destroying the sexual criminal’s sexuality and replacing it with nothingness, they save women from the trauma of sexual abuse. In the theory that nothingness is a necessary step of the process – part of these men are destroyed in order to preserve the well-being of their possible victims.  However, the Indian society is not particularly pleased with such violent public actions.  The police urge the people responsible for the castration to come forward and turn themselves in, as it is frowned upon to take justice in their own hands.  They preach law and order, but apparently their methods of keeping rapists out of the streets is not nearly as efficient as the fear of being castrated by vigilantes.






Teacher commits violent sex crimes against students and everyone saw it coming

Name: Ryan Narod

Concept: Desire

Subconcepts: Pleasure, Power, Fear

Region: Brooklyn, NY

Description: Back in high school, I attended Mr. Shaynak’s class. Like the article says, he was brilliant and the kind of teacher whose class everyone looked forward to taking. In my senior year, I was in his Aerospace class, but he also taught Math and Physics. This article in particular paints an accurate portrait of his nature and delves deeper than just describing his alleged crimes by going back through his life to the roots of unsolved issues. Just last week, Mr. Shaynak was formally charged with sexual abuse, forcible touching, kidnapping, endangering the welfare of a child, and disseminating indecent material, among other charges.

Interpretation: From reading the article, and based on my own personal experiences, Mr. Shaynak desired to be one of us. He talked in our slang and I often heard that he attended parties. There may be a bit of hindsight bias with everyone saying they “saw it coming” but there was definitely a restless nature in his search to redefine himself. This was evident in his stories about past lives, including living in Maryland, being a successful pilot, an affair with a flight attendant, and I wondered why it didn’t stick and why he wanted to start over. While he had a flirtatious nature, I had no idea his inappropriate comments, masked with laughs and slang, could be manifested violently after school let out. His desire for these girls, and maybe his desire to be one of us in high school, led him to use force and violence to get his way. It is hard for me to imagine his smile turning cruel and taking advantage of, hurting physically and mentally, some of my classmates. He seemed to care about us in a concerned way that made us feel he understood us more than other teachers did, but his desire to be close led to breaking boundaries in law and in humanity. His desire for love (stemming from his failed relationships, as the article states) combined with his desire to redefine himself, coupled with the power of being in a teacher role put him in the perfect position to commit these abhorrent acts.

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/10/nyregion/sean-shaynak-a-teacher-accused-of-abuse-seen-to-have-never-grown-up.html?_r=0




Mónica Quirós

Modern World Crucifixion by Eric Ravelo

Concept: Loss

Sub-concepts: Innocence, Abuse of power, disturbance

Event: Cuban artist Erik Ravelo created a controversial art exhibit where he shows children crucified on characters like priests, soldiers, sex tourists and Ronald McDonald. The purpose of the exhibit is to criticize the widespread abuse of children and the real causes of why these symbols of innocence are suffering.

Children are the epitome of innocence; they are usually depicted as wide-eyed all forgiving humans that are as gentle and undeserving of violence as anyone can be. Innocence is an innate part of life a child’s life, or at least it should be. Nonetheless, the truth is millions of children are deprived of their childhood; their innocence is severed by violent events that disturb both their mind and body. When they lose their innocence in such ways, children suddenly find themselves tossed into forced adulthood, unaware and unprepared to face what they have to face.

In his installation, Erik Ravelo brings attention towards the situations that deface the innocent image of children. Children are portrayed as Jesus, crucified on the object of violence. The image of crucifixion is what caused widespread controversy, but in reality it is a representation of how we, as a human race, are condemning children to the loss of their innocence. Crucifixions make the subject helpless and often leave him agonizing for a long time; this is a very accurate representation of how children are helpless and are haunted by years of pain and disturbances after traumatic events. Children are also associated with the image of Jesus on the cross because they are both considered images of purity that should not “deserve” the shaming and pain to which they are subject. Crucifixions were public acts that everyone witnessed. This is why whole installation is condemning the perpetrators of such acts, who are capable of depriving children of their innocence, as well as everyone else, who stands at the foot of the cross watching innocence agonize right in front of them.

Link: http://www.news.com.au/technology/artist-erik-ravelo-puts-children-on-the-cross-for-controversial-project/story-e6frfro0-1226716863451

Alberto Rodriguez Rico

Concept: Reality/Illusion

Sub concepts: death, destruction, dignity.




Description: An 11 year old kid was driven to suicide in the UK as a consequence of intense bullying by his classmates in school. He was an extremely clever boy who appreciated reading which killed himself by an overdose of pills.

This is just a specific example of a whole universe of cases similar to this. Bullying is a cruel manifestation against an individual derived from another person’s perception of him. The causes of this are envy, sense of inferiority, social pressure, between many others. An important aspect of it is its easiness to spread among others human beings. In this specific example the boy’s classmates considered him different due to his intelligence and interests. These individuals are driven by the society’s mandate to reject the dissimilar and even destroy it; they refuse the idea to learn from it instead. Even though the boy’s skills are signs of admiration and success, he felt that his condition was abnormal and strange, which led him to suicide. He preferred to die than to live under the present conditions; his reality was better off destroyed that existent. In this case he did not choose the group, but he was still part of it as a consequence of studying in the same classroom. This group’s influence is stronger in the young days of an individual’s life due to the lack of knowledge and strong learning curve from the surroundings. This is a problem that is restraining innovation and progress. Bullying creates kids that follow ideologies such as that studying and knowledge is not the “cool” way to live. Therefore a portion of boys with strong intellectual skills tend to avoid or reduce in importance activities associated with the concepts, to avoid being bullied or considered different in their own groups. These are the seeds implanted in the individuals that will rule the future and whose decisions will decide the world’s faith.


“Boy ‘driven to Suicide by Bullies'” Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, n.d. Web. 13 Oct. 2014. <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-187330/Boy-driven-suicide-bullies.html&gt;.




Name: Ayse Onen

Concept: Time

Sub-concepts: Suicide, Acceleration, Motion, Mobility

Description: Lithuanian engineer Julijonas Urbonas’ invention, the Euthanasia Coaster, is designed to kill with “elegance and euphoria”. The three-minute ride is made of a long, slow climb – nearly a third of a mile long – that lifts one up to a height of more than 1,600 feet, followed by a massive fall and seven strategically sized and placed loops.  The final descent and series of loops take all of one minute. The gravitational force from the spinning loops at 223 miles per hour in that single minute is lethal.  The spinning motion causes all the blood rush away from the brain, and insufficient oxygen ultimately leads to death.

Interpretation: People tend to think death as a slow process, as the ultimate end which they slowly move towards to. It is linked to decay and destruction. People imagine their deaths to be years away. They picture themselves to be peacefully aged when encountering death. Even if one encounters death suddenly, caused by an accident or illness, they never know when this will happen. Thus, till that day comes, they keep pushing the idea of dying out of their heads, as if it would only happen when they are truly ready for it. However, as time passes, death comes closer to our doorsteps even when it is least expected.

The only state in which a person can capture the true linkage between death and time is suicide. People who commit suicide are aware of the fact that they accelerate the natural flow of death, and are able to move towards it rather than running away from it. Death becomes an accelerated motion just like in the Euthanasia Coaster. The coaster is designed to bring mobility to the notion of death rather than waiting for it to happen without having any control over it. It is designed as an alternative method for suicidal people to choose “death with elegance”.

Urbonas argues that death by acceleration and euphoria is more meaningful and humane than any other death. People who decide to take the ride are given two minutes to make a final decision between life and death. When they reach the highest point, they either choose to live or push the “fall” button. Time becomes the game-changer in this process. Everything that matters in life takes the form of those two minutes. It feels as if time freezes, whereas in reality, it becomes extremely mobile and accelerated. If one decides to push the “fall” button, then the roller coaster takes a deep fall and goes into the seven loops. Throughout this stage, time does not carry any more importance. The mind goes into the euphoric stage caused by the extreme gravitational force, leading the mind to an unconscious state where the person forgets who he is or why he is there at that moment.






Name: Angela Price

Concept: Excess

Sub-Concepts: Metaphysics, Sacrifice

Region: Florence, Italy

Description: A 26 yr old Italian prostitute, Andrea Cristina Zamir, was murdered by what authorities think is a serial killer, who has killed at least 7 other women recently, due to the crucifix-style positioning of the womans body.


Serial killers do not only murder a few people. These are the types of killers that go on a string of killing and murder excessive amounts of people. In all the cases of a serial killers murders, there is almost always a patters and repetition of their steps and methods. In this case, the serial killer has killed 7 women previously in the exact same way he killed Andrea. The serial killer tied up Andrea’s hands crucifix style which shows the killer was attempting to make her look like Jesus Christ. In the metaphysical world, Jesus died for his people and he sacrificed his own life so that the rest of us could live. The way this serial killer followed this pattern in multiple murders shows that he sees these killings as sacrifices and therefore does not believe they are wrong. Serial killers go to excessive lengths to make sure their murders go exactly the way they need them to go. This case, the killer brought Andrea’s body to the exact woods that the city of Florence’s many serial killings happened in the past years. The killer needs to have their own methods repeated to be able to complete the sacrifice they believe they are making. No one may ever know why exactly this killer sacrifices prostitutes, but the way the killer murders them shows that there is a deeper meaning. Most of the victims were tortured, positioned, and then left for dead. If the murderer’s only intention was to kill and kill as many people as possible, they could’ve simply shot or strangled the women. This serial killer goes to great lengths to be able to play out the murder as a sacrifice to whomever this murderer believes in. The numerous murders and the way the many murders are carried out show the serial killer does not only want to kill all these women, but they want to complete a sacrifice of one human life to be able to continue their own and keep on killing to be able to punish the prostitutes for selling their bodies. Sacrifices are performed as a show of respect and those who perform the sacrifice are doing it for a higher power, someone watching them and judging them just as God watches us.






Deniz Ozmen

Concept: Destruction

Sub Concept: Sensation, Madness, Fragmentation

Region: France

Description: Jean Baptiste Grenouille is the protagonist in Patrick Suskind’s novel “Perfume”. His distinction from the entire outside world is his ability to distinguish every precise smell. In fact his unique ability gets him a job as a perfume maker in one of the most important shops that make perfume. Jean Baptiste’s ultimate goal in life is to reach the ultimate which turns out to be a combination of smells.

Grenouille is an artist, and like many famous artist, he chases after his masterpiece. In many forms of art, the masterpiece begins on a white canvas that is expecting to be filled with each touch of a brush. One would never accuse an artist of creating a piece of art because one thinks it is perfectly reasonable to combine fragments into a whole. In case of Jean Baptise, he has to turn his raw materials into fragments to reach its true essence. Unfortunately his raw materials are thirteen distinguished young women each carrying a different fragrance of their own body and in order to reach this fragrance, the protagonist has to skin them in order to extract the essence. So far the only thing between the perfect smell and the person is destruction. Sort of destruction that is repulsive but still serves a true purpose in the eyes of the protagonist. To Jean Baptiste they are not beings but unique elements in his box of “paints”. Justifying destruction from his point of view would be impossible until one smells the perfect scent and falls in love with it, but since this is not possible, the smarter way of justification is through the ideology of futurism. Futurism is a twentieth century way of thinking that contains the ideology of constant renovation and rejuvenation through the use of violence. So in case of the protagonist, destruction is just a tool in his ultimate goal. His movements and way of thinking endorses the ambition to reach the ultimate, the purest by using a very precise procedure that requires meticulous work in all processes.

In other words, Jean Baptiste Grenouille destroyed in order to become one. His final creation consists pieces coming together just like a painting. Unlike paintings his masterpiece is only temporary as scents fade away or become banal after a certain amount of time, suggesting new scents should and will always be persuaded just like the futurist manifesto suggests. Destruction as a means of innovation is a contradicting concept yet casts light on many subjects. Sacrificing lives in order to reach the pure form is something that would be considered very violent and sick but in truth the prospect of advancing forward and possibly reaching the purest is an objective that everyone desires yet afraid to obtain. Jean Baptiste Grenouille is one of the few who reached this state and to become immortal inside everyone who could reach him.

Book: Perfume: The Story of a Murderer



Name: Dwiarta Alim

Concept: Pain

Sub-Concepts: Rebirth, Sin, Guilt, Religion


A minority of Roman Catholics in the Philippines mark Good Friday by reenacting the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, with real metal nails driven through their own hands and feet to a wooden cross to remember the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. It is an annual rite rejected by most church leaders in the predominantly Roman Catholic country. Many penitents called “magdarame” carry wooden crosses and crawl on rough pavement while having their back slashed before getting whipped to draw blood for the ceremony. This annual ritual is done to ask for forgiveness of their sins, to fulfill vows, or to express gratitude for their granted favors. Many also torture themselves by walking barefoot on baking hot roads in processions that may lasting hours, in another demonstration of their connection to Jesus Christ.


When Jesus Christ was crucified, it was performed to terrorize and dissuade its witnesses from perpetrating such heinous crimes. Victims were left on display after death as warnings to other who might attempt dissent. As a result of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, when one is crucified with Christ by faith in Him, one is able to completely surrender every selfish desire and ambition to the perfect will of God. Similarly, self-promotion and self-pleasing desires are the greatest obstacles between man and salvation because it is the nature of man to want to please himself, and this self-recognition is the foundation for all sin. All sin erupts from the desire to please self, and this is what must be crucified with Christ in surrender to the will of God before one’s salvation can bear fruit.

It can be said that God is a real person and our relationship with Him can be cultivated as with any other human relationship. The presence of God in human lives brings intimacy and riches in glory with Him. Therefore, it is only after an individual has put his faith in Christ by bringing oneself to self-crucifixion, that Christ will be magnified in one’s life. Apostle Paul once said that his “old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Consequently, what the devotees in the ceremony feel during self-crucifixion is not pain, but utter joy and overflowing life as he/she is a step closer to Jesus Christ and God. To let self, the flesh, and all evil within to perish, it allows the rebirth of oneself into the world and is a price but few will pay for all the life of God.

Link: http://rt.com/news/self-crucifixion-filipino-036/


Malkovich Malkovich

Name: Cade Miller

Location: John Malkovich

Concept: Metaphysics

Sub-concepts: Being, Unconscious

Description: Being John Malkovich primarily deals with the philosophical question “what is the self?”, and approaches the problem much in the same way as the Theseus’ Paradox. Theseus’ Paradox asks the question of whether an object that has had all of its component replaced, is still the same object.

Interpretation: The movie starts off with the main character Craig, who is unsatisfied with both his career as a puppeteer and his marriage. He decides to take an office job with a documents office in Manhattan. There, the ceilings are very low and the boss is extremely old and eccentric. He soon learns of a doorway that is analogous to the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland. Upon crawling through the tunnel, he finds himself in the body of the famous and acclaimed actor John Malkovich. For fifteen minutes, Craig sees everything that Malkovich sees, and is able to influence his movements somewhat. After fifteen minutes he is ejected from his body and falls next to a highway, where he has to get back to the office.

Craig is confused by what happened and is thrilled by this opportunity. Craig finds the idea of controlling another body much as he was interested in his career as a puppeteer, but this is a much more real example of such work. He shows this to his wife Lottie, who eventually creates a romantic connection while in Malkovich’s body with Maxine. Craig and Maxine start charging people to enter John Malkovich, and it is a hit. Malkovich is at first completely unaware of this intrusion, because the people are only entering him as his unconscious. However, after a while, Lottie and Craig are able to exact more and more control over Malkovich’s actions, and he realizes that something is wrong.

The most interesting scene is when Malkovich decides to enter the portal himself, and is plunged into this strange world where everyone is him and is only capable of saying “Malkovich”, which either says something about the nature of the psyche or it was just impossible to explain what this phenomenon would manifest itself as through film. Regardless, it is interesting to consider why entering another body is such an appealing and in fact sometimes erotic experience for so many people. This movie also leaves the question of what it means to be yourself open to interpretation. It is apparent, however, that there is a split between the unconscious mind and the physical actions that people take, and the possibility of the unconscious to take over in some cases. The scene where Malkovich enters his own mind is only able to manifest itself in the way it does because at this crossroads, there is no longer a Malkovich left in the real world to carry out his actions. This means that Malkovich has temporarily eliminated himself and has become his pure unconscious mind for fifteen minutes. Later it is found that it is possible to enter a body permanently and that is actually the goal of the old boss. He has found a way to immortality through entering peoples’ minds. The movie is a must see for anyone interested in psychology.

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6Fuxkinhug



Name: Emre Kulluk

Concept: Power

Sub-Concepts: Death, Objects, Cruelty

Region: Istanbul, Turkey

Description: A tense hatred and strong rivalry started between the Turkish team Galatasaray and English team Leeds United after two Leeds fans were stabbed in Istanbul because of insulting the Turkish flag.

Interpretation: Rivalries are the most valuable source of excitement in sports; thus, they generate the beauty of the game. The idea of having a population that contradicts with one’s own ideologies and being able to see these different powers clash couple of times every year pleases the violent side of human beings. Although people would claim that they do not like to see violence in sports events, in these games between rival clubs, power of violence charms fans. Some of the sources of rivalries in sports can be listed as religious differences, socioeconomic balances, intercity rivalry, local rivalry and political discrepancy. These reasons are very similar to the logic behind most of the wars and it is possible to say that sports are just another medium to resolve the competitions between these different powers. However, there few rivalries in the world that was not emerged from any of the reasons above and purely arose from violence such as the Galatasaray – Leeds United rivalry.

The source of the rivalry between Galatasaray and Leeds United has a more distinctive difference of power that already turned into violence and goes back to two Leeds fans getting stabbed in Istanbul the evening before the first game. In year 2000, both clubs were doing very well and they made it to the semi-finals in the UEFA Cup. Both Galatasaray and Leeds United were, soccer-wise, seen as very dangerous teams and these two powerful teams meeting up in the semi-finals stressed out the fans. It was before the ‘Hooliganism’ laws were passed in England that all those violent and brutal English fans were able to watch the games live in the stadiums. On the night before, while some drunken English fans were marching and chanting in the famous Taksim Square they came across with some Galatasaray fans who were also drunk. Both parties were, probably, feeling more violent and powerful due to the effect of alcohol and this encountering turned into a fight. When one of the English fans realized that their physical power were not enough to fight with the Turkish fans, he chose a way that would have a more powerful effect than a simple punch or kick. Chris Loftus grabbed the Turkish flag that was waving on the entrance of a hotel and simulated wiping his bottom with the flag. When Kevin Speight saw that the Turkish fans were going to attack his friend, he tried to help and protect him. As the flags represent the honor, history and power of the nations, Turkish fans were extremely insulted with this action and stabbed both of the Englishman. Since that day there is an extreme grudge between both clubs and fans that never turned into violence once again. The hatred of the fans is still so powerful that when one of the all-time-favorite players of Leeds United, Harry Kewell, signed for Galatasaray, some Leeds fans threatened him with death. Although it has been 14 years since the occurrence of the unfortunate events the power of hatred and the power of rivalry still keeps the tension between two sides alive.

Link: http://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2009/nov/24/leeds-istanbul-chris-loftus-kevin-speight


Judy Liu

Torture, Waiting, Deception

Description: Objects that do not generate fear at first sight are more dangerous than objects that can. Depending on the mastermind behind the object, it can inflict pain that is worse than any physical torture.


Guns and knives are objects designed to inflict bodily pain. If a gun is pointed towards us, we lose composure, we lose power and we may ultimately lose our lives to an enemy or a stranger. However, if we are shown a book, we would not be afraid. We see them as objects of knowledge and possibilities. Yet, books have caused upheavals, induced suicides, and created murderers. Humans are emotional creatures. There is no one that can disagree that mental and emotional pain is worse than physical pain. The pain from a cut on our body will last a minute, a bullet to the head will be an instantaneous death and even if there was pain it may only last a split second. Mental pain however is excruciatingly long and slow. Emotional pain lives with us forever as moments that spark the pain are forever engrained in our memory. The pain we feel internally can drive us to take our own lives. But this all depends on the mastermind behind the book. A book by Judy Bloom does not have the same effect on us as a piece by Kafka does.

The executioners of physical pain are brutes that have the power to torment weak souls, but not the resilient. Individuals who have to hide behind their weapons, who feel the need to use those weapons in order to display power are cowards. They appear to have power but are internally weak and insecure, just like the victims that fall to their knees and beg for mercy in front of these weapons. Those who do not bend in front of these objects of destruction and fear have overcome the dread of death. But even those who fear no physical pain or death, who possesses a strong mind, may fall to their knees in front of masterminds like Kafka, Nietzsche, and Chopin. It also takes a genius to understand the works of a genius without guidance. Some of the works of geniuses are not meant to be understood by the unintelligent ordinary. But those who can truly understand the works of these deviants may experience despondence so deep that they fall into an abyss and never return. Kafka’s The Trial caused several students to commit suicide and the translator, Primo Levi, started to experience the same psychological pain as the protagonist Joseph K. (Berman).  Literature can be a risky art form, it appears innocent, but contains the power to obstruct the life of an individual and then push the individual to completely destroy himself.

Books not only hold the power to weaken the will of individuals and induce one to commit suicide, but they have the power to create murderers. Within books is history. Information about our ancestors, events of injustice, and the knowledge of this injustice, especially towards our blood can generate hatred in us. The connection to our ancestry or to strangers whom we share similarities with can create a sense of responsibility in us to represent their voices. The aversion to those who have wronged our people can be so strong that we take matters into our own hands, we avenge those individuals. Thus objects that appear harmless can actually create equal, if not more, damage as objects that appear destructive.

Links: http://www.psyartjournal.com/article/show/berman-teaching_students_at_risk (Jeffrey Berman)





Julia Goldstein

Concept: Abandonment

Region: Messina, Sicily

Sub-concepts: Abuse, Cruelty, Torture


Description: A severely abused dog was rescued after its whimpers were heard by a passer-by.  The dog was found lying inside a plastic bag with its legs tightly tied together with wire. Since the dog’s discovery, the rescuer has adopted the dog and expects the dog to make a full recovery.

Interpretation: I usually can find explanation for most violence in the world. Whether it is for personal reasons, religious reasons, or any other motivational reason that could lead a group or individual to harm others, there is always a reason behind everything. However when dealing with the abuse of helpless animals, it is particularly difficult to find reason. Slight abuse such as hitting an animal or purposefully leaving an animal outside could be explained as an extension of anger or anxiety. However in this case the persistent abuse is puzzling. This dog was not only beaten and starved, but was then tied up, put in a plastic bag, put in a bin and then thrown onto the street. Why did this abuser feel all these extra additives were necessary? This dog was harmless, it originates from a calm breed and in its current condition was in no shape to fight back or defend itself. The only explanation that could attest to this behavior is a mental disease. Perhaps this abuser was abandoned at a young age causing them to lash out on others. In other words this animal abuse is an extension of the abandonment the assaulter may have experienced themselves. The reason I believe that the cause of abandonment is because they chose to leave the dog alive after abusing it. The dog was in such poor condition that they could have easily killed the dog before putting it in the paper bag. By doing this, they would have avoided the dog being found and them being in danger of possibly prosecution. However by choosing to keep the dog alive the abuser clearly wanted the dog to experience suffering and dying alone. Another detail of this crime is that the dog was put in the street. The abuser made little effort to hide the dog even though they were well aware that it was still alive. This could possibly mean that they wanted the dog to be found in the same manner that someone who is abandoned wants someone to find them. Perhaps the abuser internally hoped that someone would find the dog similar to how they eventually found when they were abandoned. This ties into what exactly defines abandonment, if the dog was found dead then it would not have been an abandoned animal but rather a discovered corpse. By leaving the dog alive the abuser made this animal a victim of abuse rather than a body found at random.

Link: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2716694/Abandoned-dog-tied-rubbish-bag-dumped-bin-rescued-whimpers-heard-passer-by.html



Tyrone Ramnath

Concept: Movement

Sub-Concepts: Sacrifice, Symbols, Transgression

Region: Thailand 2010

Description: Over 100,000 people congregated in Bangkok in order to protest against the government which they felt got to power illegitimately. When Abhisit Vejjajiva refused to dissolve parliament, the protestors collects 1000 soda bottles worth of blood and poured it at the gates of the government building.

Interpretation: Not every protest has to involve fighting and death. In our society today, we are able to witness protests and demonstrations that are more peaceful. There have been protests now such as Occupy Wall Street and portions of the protests currently taking place in Hong Kong. The first thing that needs to be addressed in this particular movement in Thailand is the element of sacrifice. The blood of the commoners were pooled together in order to fight for democracy in this country. The act of pouring blood at the gates of the government was a motion of sacrifice to the government to remove parliament. This is closely related to the acts of animal sacrifices or even human sacrifices to the gods in order to please them. The blood sacrifice here shows the commoners desperate need for change and they are willing to do all that it takes in order for that change to be seen. So in the eyes of the people, this sacrifice to the god (the government) was necessary in order for there to be peace and unity in the country. It was noted that among the first to donate blood were several Buddhist monks. We have to take into account that “monks are forbidden by law from taking part in political activities.” The significance of monks being present is that they realized the need for political change and they themselves are willing to act alongside the people of the country.

The second aspect of this movement is the idea of objects, more focused to the role of objects. Humanity uses objects as symbols for ideas or moral. For example if we look at sports we have mascots representative of the sport teams, there are logos for companies, and we have symbols in religion (i.e. the cross in Christianity). We have come to realize that object’s role as symbols prove to be an effective and equally powerful tool for remembrance of ideas or people. Since symbols are longer lasting than the person or company, etc., they leave a longer lasting impression on us. The protestors here are using their blood as a symbol of their unity and of their willingness to do what it takes to see that the rights of the people are upheld.

The last aspect of this protest that needs to be considered is transgression. The protest itself is an act that goes against a usual code of conduct. Even though the protests are peaceful, the congregation of the protestors is a disturbance to the work life of the employees that work in that area. The protestors have utilized the concept of multiplicity in order to make their movement much more powerful. With this utilization, the act against the government is that much more visible (another symbol) and more effective.  So with the combination of having large numbers, using objects as symbols, and to make use of sacrifice, this protest even though it only lasted for a day, will have a longer impression on the officials in parliament, which at the end of the day is powerful.



Name: Jeremy Fathy

Region: United States

Concept: Sacrifice

Sub-Concepts: Reality/Illusion, Images, Transformation

Description: Artist Bryan Lewis Saunders spent several weeks conducting an experiment in which he took a different drug each day and created self-portraits of himself while under the influence.

The self-portrait Saunders created while under the influence of PCP.

Interpretation: Bryan Lewis Saunders’ artistic experiment exemplifies a sacrifice of reality for the sake of art. By taking a different drug (everything from Adderall to crystal meth) and making a self-portrait each day, Saunders effectively was documenting the effects that these drugs had on his creativity and mental state. This experiment was risky and clearly not good for his health, but Saunders was willing to sacrifice his well-being in order to create something unique and powerful. From analyzing the self-portraits (which can be seen by following the link below), some of the drugs (such as hash and salvia divinorum) seemed to make Saunders feel upbeat and full of energy, while others (such as absinthe and PCP) appear to have transformed Saunders into a state of emptiness and fragmentation. The self-portraits he created under the influence of “harder” drugs such as crystal meth and cocaine look as if the drugs twisted Saunders’ reality and spun his mind out of control. By no means do Saunders’ portraits accurately portray what will happen to everyone’s mental state if they take these drugs. Also, he is not advocating for or against the use of these drugs. His experiment simply represents one account of the power of images and how they can show the transformative effects that drugs have on the perception of reality. Throughout history, artists have sacrificed for their art; many great works of art were likely created at the hands of artists that were under the influence of drugs, and it is even likely that other artists have performed similar experiments. Nonetheless, Saunders undoubtedly provides a contemporary example of an artist willing to sacrifice his individual health for the sake of artistic expression; this experiment is a reminder that some of the most creative works of art are due in large part to the sacrifices that their creators made in the process. Interestingly enough, this form of sacrifice is more or less for the benefit of society. While maybe not his true intention, by sacrificing for his art and creating this interesting art experiment, Saunders produced something that the rest of society can think about and enjoy. In that sense, Saunders took something (the use of drugs) that is typically seen as selfish and turned it into an act of selflessness. Although not a violent sacrifice in the commonly thought of form, this version of sacrifice embodies the power and passion of violence in images.

Link: http://elitedaily.com/envision/artist-creates-self-portraits-on-different-drugs-and-the-results-are-insane-photos/





Solomon Zheng




Raqqa, Syria


Austrian teens who joined ISIS six months earlier now regret their decision and want to return home


Kesinovic and Selimovic represent two of the 160 Austrian nationals who have been lured to become jihadist wives through aggressive ISIS social-media campaigns, which were usually preached at local mosques. By using the intermediary and authority of religion, ISIS enticed the two girls with alleged glory and attention, brainwashing and transforming them into blind followers of the ISIS—even at school, they started lecturing schoolmates about their new lifestyle and were even suspected of being behind a vandalism attack at their school calling for jihad. As they sneaked out of their homes, they left behind a note in a determined and zealous tone: “Don’t look for us. We will serve Allah, and we will die for him.” Furthermore, the two girls were transformed not only mentally into jihadist zealots, but also physically into tools of reproduction, as one of them is now pregnant with a baby who would grow up to be a jihadist soldier. After witnessing the savagery of the jihadists, the girls began to awaken from the nightmare of ISIS. As the girls repented their departure from home, there is little sympathy from many Austrians, for the girls have already transformed into icons of treason.




Plane Crash Survivors turn to Cannibalism after being Stranded for Weeks

week 5 violence

Name: Kevin Dooley

Concept: Solitude

Sub Concepts: Abandonement, Nature, Fear

Region: Andes Mountains


Description: In 1972, a flight holding around fifty people crashed into the Andes Mountains leaving half of passengers dead and the other half struggling to survive.  There were 27 survivors of the crash initially with a few more dying days later from an avalanche and others from injuries or illness.  They were in the middle of nowhere, and the rescue mission was abandoned.  The remaining survivors had to resort to cannibalism to survive.  They were rescued a little over two months after the plane crash.


Interpretation: “I had to eat a piece of my friend to survive.”  The thought of having to make the decision whether or not to starve, or to eat your dead friend is a notion that not too many people could imagine making.  Being in a situation like these survivors forces you to do things that appear animalistic and inhumane.  The survivors ran out of food quickly so they had to eat their dead friends in order to continue to survive.  Going through an experience like this changes you completely.  It still haunts the survivors to this day.  When you are all alone and feel like there is little to no chance of survival, you have to consider all of your options in order to survive.  The elements also have to have an influence in the decision making process.  These plane crash survivors were not only forced to find food, they also had to deal with the below freezing temperatures and the dangers of mountainous avalanches.  The survivors were also haunted by the images of death surrounding them.  They looked around and all they say were dead friends.  Even the whiteness of the snow acted as a device to make them feel even more stranded and helpless than they already were.

I feel like most of us who adamantly state that they would never resort to cannibalism under any circumstances aren’t being completely true with themselves.  This might be the case for a little while during a survival experience, but after a while your mind will either force you to eat or do just give up and die.  The mind’s purpose in these situations is to survive at all costs even if it means doing things your former self considered evil especially when you are alone and do not have any social constructs holding you back.  These experiences change people fundamentally and some people never recover as a result.  Most of us also feel as though we would definitely be the ones to survive a crisis like this.  Going through the scenarios in your head is completely different from actually experiencing the pain and torture that the actual victims feel.  Most of us just aren’t mentally or physically tough enough to endure these situations, but it’s always interesting to hear people say what they would have done if they were in that situation.

Link: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2217141/I-eat-piece-friend-survive-Torment-1972-Andes-plane-crash-survivor-haunted-ordeal-40-years-later.html


Some of the Nonsense Behind Politics

Name: Kevin Manesh

Region: Washington DC and the United States

Concept: Nonsense

Sub-concepts: Power, Reality/Illusion, Destruction, Fear

Description: With elections on the rise, there are propaganda ads that are meant to discredit certain candidates. Many of these are completely false and The Drudge Report is one of the many tabloids that publishes this propaganda. The article specifically targets Hilary Clinton as a victim of this nonsense

Matt Drudge, the writer of the Drudge Report, took a picture of Hilary Clinton leaning against the top of the chair and rhetorically asked if it was a walker, trying to sabotage her health image, discrediting her as a reliable candidate. This is a flat out lie but this nonsense is fueled regardless due to the media’s enticement.

It is interesting that this happens despite the blasphemy of it all. The nonsense of it all is used to misconceive others. Misconception is a byproduct of nonsense and this is used by the creator of it in order to manipulate others. Manipulation is entirely selfish and has a foul intention of tricking someone. Nonsense is powerful in achieving this because it is easy or one to get lost in the nonsense and it seems harmless but the intention behind it all is ultimately unethical. The article talks about how these writers mix fluff and fact to the point where it is difficult to distinguish between them. As a result, these writers essentially can get away with lying. The lying is justified and the negative intention is overlooked due to this method of “innocently” mixing truth and falsehood.

Manipulating others strips them of their individuality as they are being fed lies that are not genuine to their beliefs and perspectives. Overtime they will unknowingly give in to the lies and this is unfortunate because it works and shows how vulnerable people are to these injustices. This also reveals the nonsense behind politics as people’s qualifications and skills become irrelevant after a certain point. This is because whoever has more money in funding these ad campaigns generally wins more people over which is corrupt. We can see that there is a monetary value behind this nonsense and whoever expresses more of it is at an advantage which is why many candidates and organizations do it.

Link: http://www.cnn.com/2014/06/06/opinion/brazile-silly-season/index.html?iref=allsearch



The North Pond Hermit

Name: Jared Silber

Concept: Solitude

Sub-concepts: Identity, time, space

Location: Maine


Description: A 20 year-old boy vowed to forever live alone in the Maine wilderness, occasionally stealing food and supplies from nearby houses. 27 years later, he was finally captured by police.

Interpretation: In the time the North Pond Hermit was alone, he only spoke one word to another human: “Hi.” This lack of interaction removed the mirror and sounding board that people provide. He read books and observed nature, developing his mind instead of his character. Since he was among the elements and without technology, the boundaries and definitions of life were physical, not man made: “The moon was the minute hand, the seasons the hour hand.” Without the social construct of hours and seconds to make us feel empowered (by the idea that we can exert control over nature), he felt “irrelevant” to the forces of nature. Alone in the woods his name meant nothing; all that mattered was his physical prowess and resilience in harsh conditions. “Solitude did increase my perception. But here’s the tricky thing—when I applied my increased perception to myself, I lost my identity. With no audience, no one to perform for, I was just there.” Entering solitude with the intention of returning back to society allows people to reflect on their established identity and their place in society and among friends. Yet solitude without the prospect of return renders society inexistent; the only comparison is between you and the forces of the universe. That comparison strips away any significance previously given to names or ages.


Source: http://www.gq.com/news-politics/newsmakers/201409/the-last-true-hermit/?currentPage=1


Name: Paco Chan

Concept: Animality

Sub-Concepts: Madness, Reality, Cruelty

Description: Europe’s history of putting animals on trial and punishing them.



Most of us would agree that in this day and age, humans have a firm understanding on the different types of animals that exist around us and what its’ behavior may be like. Thus, we tend to take no offense or action towards animals if they perform something that is deemed “wrong” because we understand the nature of the animal’s action. There are many individuals and groups out there that would take strong measures to ensure that animals have rights and should be protected the same way humans are being protected by the law. Furthermore, humans who harm animals should be punished.

Interestingly enough, in historical Europe, the people in those days did give animals’ real rights, the right to be trialed. In most cases, the animals would receive capital punishment and it was recorded that the most notorious animal criminals were pigs. The Europeans were quite fair about their animal trials because in some cases, a lawyer would step in to defend the animal. It occurs to me that even though we may laugh at the idea now, the historical Europeans did in some way treat animals with a lot more importance because by putting animals on trial, it shows that humans thought that these animals have some form of cognitive thinking and clear intentions for their actions. Whereas, nowadays we forgive animals or determine their fate as what we deem right because we see them as a much more inferior being than humans.





Name: Tom Gallagher

Concept: Transgression

Sub-Concepts: Movement, Death, Machinery

Description: China executes more people in their nation than the rest of the world combined. In order to streamline this process, the government has instituted the use of mobile execution vans. These vans are able to efficiently and cost effectively travel to many rural inland villages and conduct lethal injections. Moreover, the government has been suspected of then selling the organs of the executed for profit.

Interpretation: The amount of transgressions that warrant the death penalty in China is staggering. Death is being mechanized for the populous and can be delivered almost anywhere in the country in a relatively short time. The irony is in the contrast between what Mao supposedly set up the Chinese utopia to be like and the oligarchical autocracy it is now. It is not a people’s republic, rather it is a pyramid system ran by very few. The country is set up to take care of deviants permanently, and the installment of lethal injection buses is just the newest solution to what the state believes is a festering problem. It is an example of the “desk murderer” concept that was highly publicized after the Nazi trials of World War II. Many people were disgusted at the mere fact that most of the systematic killing was done at the hands of “normal” people, and the authoritative bureaucrats that ordered the mass killings and pulled the strings were very distanced from any of the actual bloodshed. The act of killing itself in this era has transgressed from intimacy and proximity to almost complete unfamiliarity and distance. Executions, whether bad or good, have taken on a new function for society. As rumored in China, the government may be profiting in the organ exchange. These organs can be argued to be going to better use after such exchanges even. What is remarkable is how neutral, impassionate killing seems to be what most frightens the populous. The fact that a van can show up and take out a large number of people in only a few hours and will do it with precision, moral and physical cleanliness, and the state backing it, is why it is seen as a transgression from societies’ perception of just executions.

Source: http://listverse.com/2013/10/15/10-morbid-facts-about-the-death-penalty/

Nurse Killed 38 Annoying Patients Claim

Name: Aakash Daryanani

Concept: Death

Region: Northeastern Italy

Sub-Concepts: Pleasure, Cruelty, Emotion / Mood

Description: Italian Nurse, Daniela Poggiali, killed as many as 38 elderly patients because she found them, or their relatives, annoying. The Italian nurse would either give the patients laxatives to make them suffer, or inject their veins with potassium to kill them.

Interpretation: Authorities have Daniela’s phone in custody and has found several disturbing images on her phone. For example, there is one particular image where she is standing next to a patient who died moments before, giving the thumbs up for the selfie. The investigation began when 78-year-old Rosa Calderoni, who was admitted to the hospital with a routine illness, died suddenly. Autopsies showed that Calderoni died due to a high amount of potassium in her bloodstream. The investigation then began, which then found 38 other patients had died mysteriously while Daniela was on duty.

This story displays cruelty at its best because Daniela took the lives of harmless patients, mostly elderly men and women, because they were asking for too much or were not easy to handle because of their age of illness. First of all, the whole aspect of murder comes into play. Daniela had to have had a reason for committing these acts, and there are several explanations to it. These patients may have given Daniela a hard time because they may have had too many demands or were just more than what Daniela could or wanted to handle. Therefore, to get rid of her troubles, she’d kill them so she would not have to deal with them. Another reason as to why she could have killed them was to get revenge on these patients who caused her so much trouble. The act of taking their lives may have fulfilled her and made her day feel better after a tough shift at work. The most bizarre, cruel, and perhaps most dangerous explanation to this would be murdering them to get pleasure out of it. Daniela obviously had access to a lot of medical equipment, and injecting these patients with potassium just because she could, and just because she gained enjoyment out of it. Someone that gains enjoyment out of the act of murder is someone that may not have any “angel on the shoulder.” That person may be dominated by the inner thoughts and satisfaction that comes with the act of murdering someone. Daniela may have had no regards or sympathy for the patients, their families, and her co-workers. Other than killing the patients, Daniela would often feed/give the patients laxatives before her shift would end just so that the nurses on the next shift would have to take care and clean the mess these old patients may have made. Again, this was all dependent upon her mood. If she was slightly annoyed, she’d give them laxatives. If she was extremely annoyed, she’d kill them.

One thing that came to mind as I was reading this and thinking about it was Rimbaud and our discussion regarding the line that opened the text we read in class: “I sat Beauty on my knee. – And I found her bitter. – And I hurt her” (Rimbaud, p 195). In this case, while a sick patient may not be considered beautiful, they are still considered harmless because all they really need is to be cared for. Daniela saw these harmless beings, disliked them and found them bitter to the point that the harmless was disgusting to her, and so she hurt them by either making them suffer or killing them.

Link: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/italian-nurse-kills-38-annoying-patients-cops-article-1.1973459


13 Responses to WEEK 5

  1. The Animus

    Name: Tan Sertthin

    Concept: Memory/ Forgetting

    Sub-Concepts: Subconscious Mind, Ancestors, DNA, Science, Fiction
    Description: The Animus is a machine that can decode DNA to emulate ancestor’s memories that only exists in the game Assasin’s Creed. The Animus triggers the human’s subconscious and create vivid images that look like reality.

    Abstergo (Latin verb for “I cleanse”) Industries mission of destroying the Assassin’s Order and establishing a New World Order is dictated by Templar members. Abstergo’s project of abstracting the assassin’s subconscious mind relied on psychoanalysis, hypnosis, and chemicals to unlock genetic memories in their subjects. This traditional practice evolved into a machine called the Animus, a technology where subjects can synchronize with their ancestors. Genetic memory is defined as a collection of memories passed down to generations that serve as instinctive skills (like animals) and act as an archive in history.
    Animus is a Latin term of the mind- the intellect, the will, the soul. Animus expanded into a new interface to a new world to discover ancestral memories by decoding the subject’s DNA. In reality, our DNA is a blue print that is contained with rich information that science has yet to decode. Human genomes adapt and changes over centuries, which create factual basis on the adaptation of past ancestors. Recently in 2010, there is a discovery that memories can modify genome. Technologies at Berkeley are enable scientists to communicate to patients in coma by reconstructing images from the mind. The subconscious is too complex for human’s conscious to even understand. All of the memories are stored inside the subconscious and the memories do store important messages from DNA.
    One of the side effects is the bleeding effect when the subject spends too much time in the Animus. This causes the subject’s vision of the past to appear in ghost forms in the current world, which can lead to madness. The skill of the subjects must synchronize with their ancestor’s action and movements in order to obtain a complete and accurate memory. This implies that the subject has control over the navigation of these memories. In the game, through the use of language of the subject’s narration through the exploration of ancestral memories will measure the amount of control of the subject has over his ancestor’s conscience. Throughout the game play, the modern assassin experienced complex memory jumbles where he struggles to find a balance between his subconscious mind and his ancestor’s subconscious mind. This complexity ranges from split synchronization (half of the modern assassin’s subconscious and half of his ancestor’s), transformation of consciousness (the modern assassin becomes on with his ancestor, letting his ancestor guide him through the modern assassin’s subconscious memory),Timeless animus effect (the modern assassin first appears as an omnipresent observer of his ancestor then becomes one with the ancestor), and Journal memories (the modern assassin is an omnipresent character observing his ancestor’s memory and his own memory of self). These complexities of recalling memories directly reflect on our different ways of recalling different memories. Some people store their memories on a journal for them to read in order to live in that written memory. Some people have shared memories with their ancestor lineage through stories and photos passed down through generations. Some memories are activated by placing one’s mind as an omnipresent observer looking down on the recollection of memories.
    By reflecting on the complexity of the Animus experience and the Animus itself, challenges our subconscious mind and how we recall memories. The concept of obtaining memories is prevalent in the scientific and fantasy world, where aliens are known to transfer memories through touch and scientists create technologies that can store memories and reproduce the character’s consciousness when it is activated. Modern scientists are also fascinated by the information stored in our DNA’s and are developing technologies that can decode the subconscious. Artists (like the surrealists), philosophers (Freudians), and scientists are all striving to explore the world of memories. Maybe someday, we can recreate the Animus to unlock hidden instincts and traits from our subconscious mind.

    Link: http://kotaku.com/5901160/the-science-fact-animating-assassins-creeds-animus

  2. Anonymous says:

    Acid Flashbacks: Surprise You’re on Drugs Again
    Name: Zachary Bastarache
    Concept: Sensation
    Sub-Concepts: Time, excess, reality/illusion

    The article that I have chosen for this week looks into the long lasting effects of heavy LSD use, and how “acid flashbacks” can occur. An acid flashback is when at some point after taking the drug, weeks, months, and sometimes years the user experiences the side effects of LSD seemingly out of no where, and will trip as if they had just ingested the drug again. The article talks about how it isn’t that likely to happen, but with people that used the drug heavily are more likely to have flashbacks. The article describes what happens as “These folks who can stand on a street corner and a car can drive by, and they’ll see a trail of the car. They’ll look at a blank wall and see geometric patterns, they’ll look at an arm and see a halo around the arm…it’s really an Alice in Wonderland kind of thing”

    In the article they talked about the patients as having a sensory over load, so where a normal persons brain will try to put up walls against the sense’s being brought into the brain at once in an attempt to not overwhelm the brain, the person who is having an acid flashback they’re sense’s are functioning at a higher capacity and there is no filter or “wall” that is keeping certain senses out. That is why a person that is tripping on acid can stare at a white wall for hours. To you they may just seem crazy but a white wall isn’t just a plain white wall to a person tripping. It is a canvas for the mind to do its work, often times the person will see geometric shapes or waves on the wall. To think that our mind is capable of shifting reality so easily to the point where we can ingest a small piece of paper with a minuscule amount of paper, and it can unlock parts of the brain that have never been used before. To be able take down our brains guard and allow the senses to completely envelop the human mind.
    Knowingly tripping is one thing, but to randomly start tripping long after any use of drugs causes the people who have the flashbacks to panic or become anxious about the health of their brain. Many patients will start to focus on the normal symptoms of LSD use and over analyze them and start to believe that they have in some way damaged the brain. The article states that there is no real way to tell what causes flashbacks because the mental illness side effects can not be linked to just drugs normally the patient has many possible triggers and having flashbacks just makes them more anxious and over analyzing their own bodies, almost to a state of paranoia.


  3. Connor Toomey
    Concept: Animality
    Region: Virginia
    “Police: Accused Murderer Bites Corrections Officer in Food Tray Dispute”
    Sub-Concepts: Imprisonment, Survival
    William Edward Burks Jr bit a corrections officer in the cafeteria of a Virginia regional jail after he thought he did not receive the right food tray. He has been incarcerated since June 2013 on murder charges in which he pleaded not guilty to.
    Burks feels the need to be treated like a human even in punishment, with the evidence being him getting angry over the food given to him not being satisfactory in his opinion. The outsider looking at this story has no back story to this to see if this was a build-up and a man finally cracking or the first time Burks lashed out at an officer. However, Burks seems more animal-like than man by lashing out at an officer and literally biting the hand that is feeding him rather than rationalizing like one would expect from a human being.
    Burks is being caged up in a prison as an owner would punish a dog by putting it into a crate. This animalistic attack on the officer in the jail could be a result in the caging of a human when our society expects to be free, even though the United States has the highest percentage of people in prison. This is the same as an animal in the zoo attacking its zoo keeper in its pen while they are trying to feed them or clean the pen for them. The animal should probably not be stuck in the tiny area, but also it is short sighted to do so but is a natural reaction to attack a captor.
    In class, prison is common topic and how individuals react in them shows how different people can either manipulate the system, crumble under it, or fight against it. Burk is a case of someone fighting against the system in a savage and ineffective way. He might have gotten out on the second degree murder charges brought against him but his reactions to a food dispute lands him in jail indefinitely. As stated before, Burk is essentially an animal in a cage, so he has no control over most of his actions. Lashing out at his ‘owner’ in this case will just have what little freedoms he had left stripped away


  4. Henry Brown says:

    Region: New Haven, CT and Washington DC
    Concept: Excess
    Sub Concept: Love and Imagination
    Description: n 1980, John Hinckley, Jr. enrolled in Yale University with the explicit intention to stalk actress Jodie Foster. Hinckley excessively proceeded to leave her love notes and poems. On March 30, 1981, Hinckley left Foster a note telling her that he planned to win her love by assassinating U.S. President Ronald Reagan. Later that day, Hinckley did drive to Washington, D.C., where he was able to shoot the president and several members of his entourage.
    Interpretation: John Hinckley believed in his imagination that he and actress, Jodie Foster, was in love. Therefore he was making up for the lack of love he probably had. Although he had a normal upbringing with loving parents, when interviewed about his childhood by police, he would refer to his girlfriend, “Lynn Collins”, several times. “Lynn Collins” turned out to be a complete fabrication and would only prove his lack of true love growing up. His imagination is what caused the initially fabrication of love in his childhood and would also be the source with his love for Jodie Foster.
    Furthermore, he moved to a whole new city and enrolled in Yale, where the actress attended school, to receive her attention. He then sent her excessive poems and letters to impress her. The excess in the volume of letters and poems was probably believed by him that every letter he sent added to the amount of how impressed she’d be. That is why he level of stalking was so excessive.
    John Hinckley was quoted in the last letter he sent to Jodie Foster stating,
    “Over the past seven months I’ve left you dozens of poems, letters and love messages in the faint hope that you could develop an interest in me. Although we talked on the phone a couple of times I never had the nerve to simply approach you and introduce myself…. The reason I’m going ahead with this attempt now is because I cannot wait any longer to impress you.”
    Because his previous excessive attempts to impress her failed, he turned to physical violence. His imagination drove him to believe that Jodie Foster would then be impressed by him killing the president, which she stared in a movie with the same plot. He believed that this was the ultimate consequence and that she would have no choice but to be impressed by his actions and succumb to his love. John would later attempted to kill President Reagan by shooting him but failed.


  5. Rebekah Wade says:

    Name: Rebekah Wade
    Region: Andaman Islands
    Concept: Madness
    Sub-Concepts: Isolation, Deception

    Description: Situated between Bangalore and Bangkok, North Sentinel Island is a place that remains untouched by modern man. Its inhabitants have not and cannot adapt to modern day society. Those who have visited have been greeted with hostility and aggression, and to this day the islanders remain independently isolated.


    Quite often, we are friendliest to strangers. Whether holding the door open for someone or kindly smiling to a fellow pedestrian, society has told us to be polite and courteous, especially to those we do not know. Many construct a façade when initially meeting someone. No one knows the stranger’s true intentions, thoughts, or feelings, for no one will ever know the true thoughts of another man; however, this blatant truth does not stop the modern mad man from going about an existence marked by insincere smiles and monotonous manners.

    The inhabitants of North Sentinel Island do not have such deceptive societal standards. They know not of modern society, and there are no preexisting notions of having to be polite to those they meet. The islanders have never heard of “making a good impression;” rather, they act defensively towards those they meet. When one steps upon their shores, the visitor is looked at not as a guest, but rather an intruder. In an effort to perpetuate and propel their people, they put trust in no foreigner. Unlike the ignorant modern man, the inhabitants of North Sentinel Island trust no one. This aggressive and defensive tactic has allowed these islanders to ward off the malicious modern man and remain isolated from the rest of civilization. One may look at these natives and view their aggressive behavior as unreasonable, and that such irrationality is a trait of their madness. However, isn’t the true mad man the one who smiles at the unfamiliar as though they have known each other for many years? Modern man tells his children to stay away from strangers, yet hypocritically instills trust in those he barely know.

    When mad, one may seem incapable of controlling his or her actions, for there is a being greater than he who dictates daily existence. Whether a god or an obsessive subject, the mad gives all control to this idol. Modern man has given all control to society. Unlike those who dwell freely on North Sentinel Island, he has allowed civilization to control his actions. While walking along the street, modern man may find himself involuntarily smiling at the stranger, even if that stranger is a malicious, deceiving entity out to destroy him.

    Links: http://www.travelcreepster.com/north-sentinel-island.html#.VDzZr0s7VBV

  6. Name: Jared Wolf
    Region/Concept: Chur, Switzerland, Transformation
    Sub-Concepts: Loss, Mourning, Remembrance, Afterlife
    Description: A Swiss company takes the ashes of loved ones and transforms them into small, button sized diamonds to give to the family of the deceased. They have a very ethical way of treating the ashes in which they never touch them with bear hands, always cover them while they are in the factory and always require that the family come and introduce themselves. The company however just assigns reference numbers to each project so that the employees do not develop an emotional attachment.

    As we have seen in other posts on this blog, from the people who are getting tattoos with the ashes of their loved ones, the way that people are mourning their loved ones is changing. With the advent of technology, we are seeing a change that has lead to more meaningful and pleasant ways to remember those who have passed. Why, in the American culture, do we mourn the death rather than celebrate the life and place an emphasis on the accomplishment of the deceased. Historically, there are two typical ways that we mourn and remember our loved ones and neither seem appropriate in remember someone who has died. One way is by going to a cemetery to visit the grave and leave flowers or notes. This is a depressing activity as a graveyard is a location that is shrouded in death and loss and it is hard to have a personal connection as there many others who are buried there. Another method is by keeping an urn or other container filled with the ashes of the cremated person. Ashes are dirty and grey and have a negative association with destruction, death and ending. Thus through this process death is transformed into something beautiful that can bring happiness to either the wearer or the observer.

    • Stephanie Hillebrand
      Concept: Movement
      Sub Concepts: Surrealism, Disfigurement
      Rene Magritte is a prominent, if not the pioneer of the Surrealist movement in the 1920s in Belgium and France. Surrealism suggests a break from reality and taps into society’s subconscious. In this painting, The White Race, Magritte disfigures a female body to first, play with society’s expectations and views of reality. He forces the viewer to abandon the traditional order by which it perceives a body, and find a new interpretation for it. I believe the title “white race” is making a reference to the thought process in a predominantly white society in Europe. The body does not have a head; it starts with the eyes and moves on with an ear, and then a mouth. There’s a sense of a certain ‘wrongness’ as the viewer confronts a dreamlike and Picasso-esque portrayal of a seemingly mundane woman. The viewer is invited to immerse in a new realm of his own reality and dreams, and question how society shapes and controls our way of thinking.


  7. Name: Alex Sarkissian

    Region: Florida/New England

    Sub-Concepts: Fragmentation, Obsession, Image, Defacement

    Description: A man who’s passion consumed his identity.


    The link above will direct you to an article named, “Man with Tom Brady Helmet Tattoo Arrested for Narcotics.” Although, I have no interest in his demise from his abuse of narcotics, this entry focuses on a man’s internal demise; which took place the moment he violently tattooed his entire head (front and back) with images, and logos of the New England Patriots.

    The question is what happens when ones passion, that supposed one side of a singular person, completely takes over the whole. Everybody has their own interests and fascinations in life. Many people even find a way to make a career out of their passion, allowing it to define them in a constructive manner. However, the man in the article took an obsession, and allowed it to not only define him, but even deface him.

    For example, take a hypothetical assistant coach for the New England Patriots; who may have had a similar captivation for the team/sport as the man in the article. Although he does not have the skills to play, he projected his love of the sport in a constructive manner, bettering himself, as well as his career aspirations. Furthermore, this assistant coach wears his Patriots gear constantly, but he does not allow this to tarnish his image, but rather it enhances his passion for the sport and his career, both of which are vital fragments of his identity.

    On the other hand, the man with the patriots tattoo on his head’s identity isn’t augmented by his display of fan hood. His name, his job, his life no longer matters to the exterior world because he has become nothing more than the lunatic with a helmet tattooed on his head. By stamping the logo of a football team on his head, he diminishes his own personal value. He is a prime example of what happens when one fragment, infects and destroys the whole.

  8. Name: Kenza Qermane

    Concept: Fear

    Geographical Location: Villages of Ituren & Zubieta (Spain’s Basque country)

    Sub-concepts: Violence, Unknown, Weird

    Description: Every January, men from one village parade to the neighboring town wearing sheepskin costumes and bells on their backs to scare visitors. The tradition say’s that the noise their bells make is to send off evil spirits and wake the people of the land up so that they can be ready to give thriving harvest in the spring.

    Although the tradition in itself is for a “good” cause – to ward off evil spirits and accelerate the harvest in the spring, the act of the tradition appears disturbing and unusual. The point of the carnival is to scare visitors and to have the men in the carnival walk around dressed in very scary costumes. I can only imagine children during this day being very disturbed at the image of watching these men walk down the streets of their village and crying to their parents in fear. The whole village becomes a kind of dark, gloomy battlefield, with bonfire smokes, men seeming possessed, and all of this is done in the open. The surprising thing; however, is that when looking at images of this tradition, many of the “outsiders” to the carnival seem to enjoy the carnival and take it as a kind of real-life show that they are watching as they are walking down the streets. There appears to be no fear felt towards the carnival participants, and that to me is ambiguous. How is it that no one seems to wonder why this tradition entails scaring people, when it’s actually meant to do well for the village?
    This to me is just an extrapolation of what our world is starting to become due to the media. When it first started or as a new watcher, this carnival is probably fearful to attend; however, as one becomes more familiar with it and sees others not being fearful of it, one begins to accept the event as something “normal”. We can extrapolate this to the fact that in our world today, we are becoming a lot number to violence and/or fear when we see it, because the media (especially) has been familiarizing it to us. We may be disturbed by something when we see it, but the truth is that it won’t strike a glimpse of real fear because we believe that we are immune to what is going on and that it’s just “all a joke” and nothing of this sort “would ever actually happen, anyways”.


  9. Anonymous says:

    Name: Nick Wong

    Concept: Nature

    Sub-Concepts: Carnivore, Plant,

    Description: Carnivorous plants are plants that can attain nutrients by processes of luring insects and then capturing them so that they can be digested.

    Interpretation: These plants have adapted and evolved over the years to become a fatal attraction to unsuspecting insects or bugs. This made me realize why nature is such a good killer. It goes back to the idea that we learned in class about the men who are trained to kill by losing their individuality. Instead of being sensitive to the kill, these men are trained to believe that the universe just wanted a death. Nature has no identity and thus it can be a cold stone killer. But in this case nature is not just killing because it can, it is killing partly for its own survival. It’s ironic how some of natures most beautiful objects can also be the most deadly i.e. a bright looking flower that is extremely poisonous or the thorn on the rose. These particular plants remind me of the kinds of scary stories that children learn from their parents when they try to go to bed. The plant is like the scary witch that lures the children into the forest. These plants have a sweet and pungent smelling liquid that attracts the insects to its demise.

    Link: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2010/03/carnivorous-plants/zimmer-text

  10. Title: Blood Qur’an
    Location: Baghdad
    Sub-Concepts: pain, time
    In the late 90’s Saddam Hussein regularly had blood drawn and had an Islamic calligrapher etch the Qur’an in his blood. The entire process lasted two years and used 27 liters of blood. Many government officials are now debating what to do with the Qur’an which was vaulted for many years.
    Saddam Hussein was a violent dictator who seemed to believe that he was more than a human. He lived in lavish palaces, had statues erected of himself and lived like a king. To the people of Iraq he conveyed that he was more than just the leader. He wanted to leave a legacy.
    His decision to have the Qur’an etched in his blood took his idea to immortalize himself to another level. There is so much religious significance to blood. It is often seen as the human life force. Not only is writing in blood a violation of social norms, using it to write a holy text violates Islamic religion. It is against Islamic religion to have written the holy book in his blood. “it is haram [forbidden]”. This is because human blood is an inappropriate medium for something as powerful as the word of god. The Qur’an is believed to be the actual word of god being sent through Mohammed. The implications of using his blood to write the Qur’an is that the word of god is within him. This would imply that he is a prophet, the earthly connection between gods and humans.
    His position as a prophet would justify his position as a dictator ruling over all other humans. Someone who has the word of god would be wiser, more powerful, and have all of his actions justified by a greater power. His radical ideas and actions are not those of a simple dictator, they stemming from god himself. From this position it is justified for him to be disgusted when mere humans try and oppose him.

    Link: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/dec/19/saddam-legacy-quran-iraqi-government

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