As part of our ongoing Weaving the Streets project, Tzintzun Aguilar-Izzo reveals the "recipe" he used to unmask his Mexican-American identity (presented in a visual poem), a recipe that anyone can use to unravel the spectacle of their personal representation.
Warning: This is a personal process. In undertaking these different steps, you will be subjected to an uncomfortable amount of subjectivity. This is particularly dangerous for scholars, researchers, journalists, scientists, or those who pretend to be objective advocates of empirical knowledge. However, to come to terms with the borderlines of empirical information, you must explore the blurry boundaries of your own subjective position. If these borderlines aren’t studied, there is the potential danger of subjective leakage. These unforeseen consequences have the tendency to color even the most objective of empirical processes. These processes can also lead to a person feeling slightly foolish and self-conscious. If this happens, don’t worry. The end goal of this recipe is for you to feel self-conscious in the first place. Due to all the information presented above and for many unforeseen consequences, this process should be undertaken at your own risk.
· Your sense of self.
· A dictionary.
· The black mirror one holds in your pocket, the source of your media consumption.
· Your profile picture.
· Others (i.e. other real/non-virtual people, physical, non-illusory).
· A pen and paper.
· A mirror, or any reflective surface.
Sense of Self: Your sense of self is the ingredient hardest to define. Remove Black Mirror from your pocket and look at your reflection. If that process does not yield satisfactory results, you can always switch the Black Mirror on.
2. Virtual Mask: By scrolling through your Facebook/Twitter/linkedin/Instagram profile pictures, you will encounter the spectacle you present to the virtual world, your virtual mask.
3. Words of Your Spectacle: Write down words that you use to describe yourself virtually. Use as many words as necessary to describe the borderlines of your spectacle. Try not to censure.
4. Definition of Self: Look these words up in the dictionary. From each definition, choose one word. Write these words down in a secondary list.
5. Talk to Masks: Stand in front of a mirror or a reflective surface (selfie style). Repeat your list of words until memorized. Remember, to look deep into your own eyes. Note: Don’t worry if this process feels uncomfortable. As users of social media, we speak to our reflections daily.
6. Projected Trophies: Carry on with your day. Be especially aware of people’s reaction to you. Study their eyes. Compile a third list of the words that surface in your interaction with others (physical people). Make sure to compare this new list with the list you previously memorized. Are you the Others' projection?
7. Unmask: Select ten to five of the words that most stand out to you and use them to create an artistic action. The product of this action is to contextualize your words, and blend together the signifiers that dissect your identity creatively. (Personally, I wove together the words of my identity in a visual poem). You have complete liberty in the medium you choose to complete your tapestry. The only prerequisite is that you re-contextualize the words that have been projected on you, reveling the mask of your positionality.
Note: Do to the non-empirical nature of this dissection, the steps of this process may vary from person to person. There is no strict guideline. The only necessary action is the intention to look beyond one’s mask, and reconstruct the networks of one’s personal representation. Email your unmaked representations to me at hackerbirdy[at]riseup[not]net or tweet them at @hackerbirdy.