Enhanced Instagram type selfies that describe the inner self and a self-identity that extends beyond the physical body. The images point to the process of change and transformation within the mind.

Vivi-Mari Carpelan: Terraforming the Self (series) at Bay Art, Cardiff 2019

‘Terraforming the Self’ (2018) is a photographic project that investigates the self-explorative function of Instagram selfies by taking them to an new level of self exposure. Through the layering of multiple photographs (i.e. double exposure), I have sought to express the reinvention of self through transformational processes, and offer a window to an idea of self that goes beyond that of the physical body.

The origin of the project’s name is the scientific proposition that other planets can be made inhabitable by inducing a climate through artificial means. Not only do I find the idea of humans as creators of a twin planet a fascinating prospect, I also see it as a metaphor for the future self. Rather than seeing the possible colonisation of another planet as an escape from our responsibility for Earth, I see potential for increasingly higher forms of creative and scientific innovation. Yet for a brighter future to be possible, it is really the narcissistic ‘Planet Self’ that needs to be terraformed first. A new mental climate becomes an idea of a new self.

Using personal photographs both old and new (usually about 3-5 per project), the all the images have been produced on an iPhone. Nine basic filters for double exposure have been used as a way of creating impressions of the dreamy world of the inner self, and no other ‘trickery’ has been employed. As a metaphor the chaotic nature of evolution, chance has been made to play a part. In the tension between the world of inanimate technology and the virtual world of the mind’s eye, a new world and a new idea of self emerges. It’s a new identity that is not based on the body and its condition, but on the invisible inner self and its expression in the visible world.

‘Terraforming the Self’ is a new project (2018) that investigates the self explorative function of Instagram selfies by taking them to a new level of self exposure that reflects inner change and transition. The title of the project suggests that every human is on a quest for a greater sense of identity, and that we must all fully understand the implications of ‘Planet Self’ in order to create a new climate that sustains life. While dealing with polluting ideologies of the past and finding solutions to the problems we’ve created, we are forever reinventing ourselves. From this perspective, the cliched and apparent narcissism of Instagram selfies can be seen in a more forgiving light: we are all on a quest to understand who we are and what we wish to become. We are forever seeking mirrors in which to reflect our idea of self.

The images average at 29.5x29.5 cm and are printed onto high quality photo paper with high quality ink.

Please see Instagram @tightropedancer66 for exercises in this vein.

Read my essay on consciousness and self in the section ‘Abstract work on paper 2018’.