for this project, i chose to deal with issues regarding cosmetic surgery. feeling that this brand of fashion has become as easy as changing our haircolor, i was interested in how i would look morphed into other people cosmetically. with the universal obsession with youth, beauty and sex appeal, cosmetic surgery is more popular than ever, creating a big business to re-construct what we see in the mirror.
though not all cosmetic surgery is unhealthy [as in the case of serious medical issues] radical surgery has definately enjoyed a rather "pop culture" iconic seat among the rich and famous. we joke about it. we long for the ability to look more beautiful. to some degree, many will even settle for a long and painful process [even a life-threatening procedure] to look only a few years younger or become a few pounds lighter.
in these photos, i took an original photo of myself and manipulated it to imitate the facial structure of michael jackson, an oriental woman, a warped version of myself were i to have cosmetic surgery and lastly, a wacky collage of my face coupled with brittney spears. my art takes many forms and this is no exception. i always try to portray a certain collaboration of fantasy and reality in everything i do. photographs, especially, make this easy enough and the digital media i take advantage of certainly allows for more detailed manipulations. though some of my work is often self-agrandizing, focusing on ideal beauty rather than flaws, there are major parts that make me out to be a tortured being, sometimes completely leaving out my nose or mouth or adding scars and bruises. the latter hideous style is usually an "answer" to my inner question of "what is the truth of the human condition?"
if you look closely, you can see the remnants of my features. since i used my lips and nose and eyes and just modified them to give the appearance of the character i was portraying, you can still see a ghostly image of my face hovering just under the surface of each character. for example, as in my version of the post-operated michael jackson, it is very obvious that my eyes are indeed there, but the features have all been re-constructed to show that basic "photo-surgery" can make anybody look completely different...even an aging, enigmatic pop icon.
for the brittney spears piece, i didn't want to make her look so much like the songstress, but rather i wanted to create a collage of brittney spears that i have seen develop; awkward teen blooming into post-stardom woman. her features are in "stages" on her face which leaves a rather twisted version of the actual brittney's features.
in this project, the reality vs. fantasy is, of course, exaggerated completely, perhaps taking some exception with michael jackson who has pushed the limits of plastic surgery. having been interested most of my life in being a fashion nightmare and becoming active in the community of body modification later on, i realized that the social phenomenon of cosmetic surgery has literally changed the process of aging and the standards of beauty. comparing a woman in her 60's who has aged naturally to a woman in her 60's who has had massive reconstructive surgery to her eyes, neck, lips and cheeks is a pretty astounding social test. the comparisons of women and men with plastic surgery to other "unmodified" individuals not only change our perceptions of aging and beauty, but also inspire more frustration with a "beyond wealthy" standard of living.
very wealthy people not only can afford to drive an expensive car, but they can also buy a new nose and chin which makes them appear more beautiful inside that car. most of society doesn't have the expendable income to change their appearance on a yearly basis. and so the spiral begins in which the beautiful become more beautiful; the unchanged are left to feel that money can buy everything they don't have, including attractiveness. [on a side note: beauty has shown in several studies to have an effect on social and economic achievements in both men and women. casual and serious studies have made positive correllations time and again, that as physical attractiveness goes up, so does economic advantage. would it be fair to say that those with the most plastic (ie, credit cards, silicon) are just that? plastic? while the rest of us enjoy a more "real" version of life.]
but it doesn't take a sociologist to recognize that prettier people get ahead faster than their less attractive counterparts. one example is the blitz krieg of the movie industry. i believe the entertainment industry, overall, is corrupt with warped visions of beauty, but the movie biz is out of control in it's social domination. from the visuals we see flashing across movie screens with images twenty times as large as reality, trickle down societal perceptions become enormously warped. in a business where the camera "always adds ten pounds" women are forced to be even thinner and men must add even more muscle. the equality of the entertainment industry is apparent in that men and women alike are forced to look fresh from the gym at all times. there are obviously exceptions, however they are insignificant in this fascist beauty conscious industry.
with as many facts as we have about thinner doesn't equal better and the on-set of anorexia and bulemia one would think that our body perceptions would have become more healthy by now. however, as of the year 2002, a large size model is still just a single page in the million+ pages of the magazine business. overweight actresses are but a blink on the screen, if given the spot-light at all. we applaud ricki lake and carney wilson [of wilson-phillips] for losing weight and becoming smaller icons for america's young women. even if carney had to have two hundred staples running down the middle of her belly to achieve the nobility of becoming half her pre-surgery size, we are still happy for her. she will have a scar reminding her that she was a "fat girl" for the rest of her life, but she now has the facade of being thin, which apparently, is enough for her and our beauty obsessed society .
the surgical process has been glamorized to the point that more and more young women and men have no idea what feeling beautiful from within the soul is about. the old saying "beauty is on the inside" has long since been ambushed by media yelling "beauty may be on the inside, but who cares if you have white teeth and a tiny probiscus?"
in all of my work i use my own image to some degree. i like to change who i am just like anyone else, though i do it with make-up and color rather than scalpels and stitches. i have to ask if our obsession with changing our appearance isn't so much about looking or feeling better as it is about becoming someone, anyone, besides ourselves?
^ Original Version Of Myself ^
^ Asian Version Of Myself ^
^ Me With Cosmetic Surgery To Eyes, Lips, Nose And Cheeks ^
^ Me As Michael Jackson ^
^ Me As Brittney Spears ^