am is are  2021

virtual showroom

am,is,are is an audio-visual exploration of the signification of identity by artist-conceptual-designer Chaney Manshu Diao. Chaney used fashion as a strategy to investigate a paradoxical relation between the appearance and the self, which is established and confirmed during the daily encounters between "I" and "the other".

 

am,is,are looks into the conception of individual identity through the lens of cyborg-feminism and post-humanism theories, to question in order to look for a sense of transcendence of the biological limitation of the self. arm,is,are works across visual art, poetry and spoken words with the emphasis on the forms and traces of existence across varied mediums which contemporary humankind constantly is in contact with.

 

Chaney's decision of working with written and spoken words for this particular work points out the importance of utterance of the self, which predominantly would be conceived as the form of being. 

“It would seem that the body is the fatal adversary of our imaginations; the time-honoured Greek separation of body and mind. Our fantasies about ourselves can have a force that is highly imaginative, but in reality, our image is simply that of our body.”

 

 

 

 

We born in a biological body 

which is the only evidence of our existence in the real world 

I am

An address 

The number

Names

etc

The interior of my room

The outer layer of my jacket

Or the flesh beneath my skin

Alternatively the face on the PC screen 

Which projected on my mom’s lap top.

I exist beyond what you see me in a proper dress

My appearance is definite, it is for the viewers to define. 

My existence is beyond what to be confirmed. Or acknowledged.

Now you can not see me, 

Do you still visually want to confirm me as Manshu in front of you?

Agree / disagree ?

My existence is beyond what to be confirmed or acknowledged.

If fashion was meant to communicate an Identity of human beings. 

Visually 

It must be extended to a new external reality of being

We born in a biological body 

which is the only evidence of our existence in the real world 

I am

An address 

The number

Names

etc

The interior of my room

The outer layer of my jacket

Or the flesh beneath my skin

Alternatively the face on the PC screen 

Which projected on my mom’s lap top.

I exist beyond what you see me in a proper dress

My appearance is definite, it is for the viewers to define. 

My existence is beyond what to be confirmed. Or acknowledged.

If fashion was meant to communicate an Identity of human beings. 

- Visually -

It must be extended to a new external reality of being

Fashion has to progress into a new communication method to translate mind beyond my true body. 

I am

An address 

The number

Names

Etc

I am

An address 

The number

Names

etc

The interior of my room

The outer layer of my jacket

Or the flesh beneath my skin

Alternatively the face on the PC screen 

Which projected on my mom’s lap top.

I exist beyond what you see me in a proper dress

My appearance is definite, it is for the viewers to define. 

My existence is beyond what to be confirmed. Or acknowledged.

If fashion was meant to communicate an Identity of human beings. 

- Visually -

It must be extended to a new external reality of being

Fashion has to progress into a new communication method to translate mind beyond my true body. 

I am

An address 

The number

Names

etc

Opening question

 

To begin with, fashion is studied alongside one’s identity and self-image. Clothes, in common sense, has been regarded as a representation of oneself, externally and socially. The punk movement in Britain, has subverted the norms of proper dressing. So far, we are at a stage when individuality is widely celebrated. We’ve come such a long way for us to have the ability and the freedom to become who we are, outwardly, whether as lesbian, gender neutral person, rebels, or alien creatures… which defiantly has a beauty to it.  

 

 

Yet, I am terribly troubled. 

 

 

1 / Human Gaze (the viewer)

When dressed up, in public, we are being gazed. 

 

The self-image that we presented, may or may not towards any others, is being defined, judged, and categorised by the viewers. Accordingly, “who we are” is confirmed by others. Especially in contemporary society, when a dominant number of people believe that you are who you wore. Such a statement becomes part of my concern. 

 

French Philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, in his book Totality and Infinity, elaborated a ‘face-to-face’ encounter between “I” and “Other” (someone else). Being as being-in-the-world [Heidegger, Levinas]. Michael Morgan discussed Levinas’ existential theories in ration to ethical theory, in which, he believed Levinas’ concern is ‘with the exteriority or transcendence of the other who addresses me’. Whereas, Diana Perpich also added to the claim, argues that ‘the face-to-face gives rise to a normativity without norms’1.

 

This gazing behaviour directly contributes to people’s perception to me, to you, to she/he which results into a very flat “2-dimensional” image, or the impression of the person that they come across. 

 

 

2 / consciousness, interiority - exteriority (self)

The paradox of being beyond biological. 

 

Jean Paul Sartre wrote, “conception of the subject is projected onto the world as its objective feature”. Fashion, as the discipline that directly depicts the inner self using the “decoration” onto the biological body, is the best medium available for us to think through the Mind-body relationship.

 

In Discourse, Rene Descartes wrote: 

 

Next I examined attentively what I was. I saw that while I could pretend that I had no body and that there was no world and no place for me to be in, I could not for all that pretend that I did not exist. I saw on the contrary that from the mere fact that I thought of doubting the truth of other things, it followed quite evidently and certainly that I existed; whereas if I had merely ceased thinking, even if everything else I had ever imagined had been true, I should have had no reason to believe that I existed. From this I knew I was a substance whose whole essence or nature is simply to think, and which does not require any place, or depend on any material thing, in order to exist. (6:32–3)

In the book Space, time, and perversion Elizabeth A. Grosz (philosopher, feminist theorist, and professor) wrote: ‘Identity comes from its identification with its own image in a mirror’. Here comes the paradox: 

 

First,  the biological form is the sensual organ for the thinking self to be able to feel, sense, and reflect on.

Second, the inner self does not pre-exist before the biological self. The formation of the inner self is built around the observation of the actual image of the biological form and the material environment that it is located.

Third,  the inner self is imaginative, complex, and free, which can go beyond what the biological self can represent at one time. Therefore, the body can put the mind in prison. 

 

 

Starting Point / Dimensionality and Existence

Transcendence[philosophy term] - physical and social circumstances.

 

The thought experiment Schrödinger's cat described the paradoxical relationship between the observer and the observed. According to the collapse theories in Quantum Mechanics, when observed,the reality collapses into one possibility or other. Caused by the observation, the “possible” turns into the “actual”. “Who we are” is, thus, “captured” by others when biological form of being is observed. Yet, Being, is having great possibilities. 

 

My starting point, therefore, is to challenge the certainty.

 

The dressed-up visible self

words by Chaney Manshu Diao