For “turning the camera on oneself,” I was inspired by Stelarc in re-purposing the human body, and Bill Viola in reducing the human body to a “visual poem.” In turning the camera on myself, I found myself not only experimenting with choreography and the implications of different bodily gestures, but understanding myself, my identity, and more so, my own ethnic blueprint. Almost like a spiritual dance, I centralized my movements around the idea of Om Mani Padme Hum, a primitive mantra that is wide-spread across my sub-continent regardless of religion, and found as a definitive scripture in any language developed from Sanskrit, including Bengali. It reminds us of the qualities that makes us human, such as jealousy, lust, and desire: qualities which other animals are seemingly unable to possess.
Many of my hand movements are inspired by traditional bengali dance, in which various flowers designate a specific position and gesture of the hand. In metaphorizing the “Lotus,” the “purified” structure of the mantra, I realize the meaning of the Lotus is also tied to my country politically, being the national symbol, and also, has hidden meanings in classical literature– alluding to fertility and even psychedelia. In thinking about these notions, I started to think about Laura Mulvey’s conceptualization of the gaze, and my own gaze– the gaze once being narcissistic, political, sexualized, a channel of terror (dilation of the pupil– Alfred Hitchcock, Psycho), and also, a cultural aspect of humanity.
Aesthetically, I was inspired by the history of self-portraiture in analog photography, and the transformative meaning of “identity” in the global lens (Jean Locey). Whether a photo only consists of a foot, a smile, or a hair, self-portraiture consumes itself in paradox, irony, and tease. I started to think about photography as the “moving image,” and how I would be able to achieve creating tension between different images of my body all at once. I then started to think about transparency, layering, and double exposures, and finally, made my experimental film into a silent self-portrait which consists of a “frame within a frame.”