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Turning on your anxiety; heel!

Sketch book page, How do you feel? (2018)

How do you feel? Anxious obviously!

I been thinking about the interplay between being the observer and being the observed. Using this as a way of making sense of moments, actions and feelings. Scientist's might argue you need to be separate from the task, that the subject can not be the object, or that the seer can not be seen in the action at hand. For me as an artist the logic of the experimenter being separate from the experiment does not always ring true. Logic can probably only take us so far in knowing and therefore I would argue limits the generating of new knowledge. What exists outside of these logical and restricting parameters? This is the interesting question to ask.

What they see and what you feel.

While I'm investigating and making art about myself, my brain and my perceptions, I've been consider the interaction with what we see on the outside and what we don't see on the inside. The Kantian interplay between outward form and inner constructions? When I created the list in response to 'how do you feel?' (see sketchbook page above) I was stuck by what can be observed, what can remain hidden in the body, but also the things that the body finds difficult to hide. For instance, I'm not always conscious of the inner sense revealing its self, unconscious actions like tapping fingers or jiggling my leg, are not considered actions, they are automatic. The inner revealing to the outer. The moment I observe them I stop them, and it feels false or fake to continue tap or jiggle whilst observing and being conscious of the action. So I suppose this issue is more than a simple challenge of the dichotomy of the observer needing to be separate to the observed, its about how one inhabits a fluid space, whilst being attentive to the dialogue of the outward form and inner constructions.

Turning on anxiety.

When I consider my anxieties it is all to easy to think of these aspects of self as negative, a weakness in yourself, or a deficiency to be hidden and kept secret. When actually a certain amount of anxiety is not such a bad thing. It raises awareness, and it often focuses attention onto something, and you could argue it is telling you to take greater note. For instance, on a lower level engagement with the background chatter, I still feel anxious, after many years of teaching, when talking to a new or a very large group of students. The anxiety reminds me not to be complacent, it drives me to be prepared and organised, forces me to listen to the inner voice of concern and react appropriately to the situation. Part of this process is the fact that anxiety activates the brain circuit associated with motivation, it releases dopamine and thus helps us to take action. My problem is often I ignore it out of fear, rather than look to channel it for change. But also lets be honest here, not all the anxieties are playing in the same league, some are demons that we feed partly because they are too strong to cage or bring to heel. It may be difficult to overcome the condition but at least I can know it better, this is some way down the road to heal (if it will not completely heel!) the anguish. At least the art making is trying to move through the misery and gloom in an attempt to know self better in a difficult place.

Anxiety on/off button, 2018

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