Monday, 4 January 2010

Make up application is repetitive in application and removal, and as a ritualistic function it appears to be pointless at times, we do not learn from it. At other times we learn about ourselves and others through its ability to foster contemplation, imagination and mastery of perfection. Like good performance art, its real essence is in the moment, not the ability to capture it through media, and yet it is never enough, we go on delighting in its daily creation and removal in a frenzy of seeking perfection. It is no wonder that over the last five years YouTube has seen a huge increase in make up tutorials, which has led to an increase in knowledge but not understanding. In partnership with this desire to force social identity through cosmetic application is the desire to make this contrivance seamless, effortless, as if we innocently awake each day with the appearance of painted allure and perfection.

It is interesting to consider other approaches to constructing identity that are also as repetitive, another approach to identity and images can be found in Buddhist meditative exercise: the laying of a mandala. A mandala is is a picture of spiritually symbolic nature, composed out of coloured sand by Buddhists in a day- or even week long procedure, just to be brushed away after completion. The motivation is to focus on the shown spiritual symbol and eventually come closer to the goal of overcoming ones self-attachment, meaning to separate one from the deceptive idea of something like a 'self'.


For some the role of the fashion model is to attempt to create a new female version of perfection for all to desire and emulate daily. According to Baudrillard however:

...the fashion model’s body is no longer an object of desire, but a functional object, a forum of signs in which fashion and the erotic are mingled. It is no longer a synthesis of gestures, even if fashion photography puts all its artistry into re-creating gesture and naturalness by a process of simulation. It is no longer strictly speaking, a body, but a shape.

Jean Baudrillard. Seduction. 1990

Looking in the mirror, I too have begun to see a shape, the more I engage with creating and recreating the face, the more my body, my face disappears under my desire to create my own coded language to be observed by others. The popularity of the mediated beauty concept, has made articulating alternative models of beauty difficult but I still desire to effect a mode of visual aesthetic that negates the accepted forms of idealised, Westernised beauty. Using magazine images of fashion models in my work is an initial method of participating in the ritual of the cosmetic application of signage. Breaking free from the mirror I aim to resist reinventing aesthetic stereotypes, by not seeking perfection but instead through finding my own 'shapes'.

This 'Critical Design Approach' will enable me to reflect not only on identity but also on consumer culture by
challenging my audience's preconceptions and expectations thereby provoking new ways of thinking about make up, its use, and the surrounding environment.

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