“Inbetween the Soul & Soft Machine”
Etching on Copper Plate
9 x 12
“One of the most recurring themes in near-death experiences is the phenomenon of the “out of body experience”. There is repeated sensations of floating or feeling separate from the body and accounts of being able to see themselves as if they were on the outside looking in.
In this piece I wanted to further explore this aspect. I used a figure holding up a “mirror of themselves” to represent consciousness looking back at their bodies as if they are separate from each other to express the out of body experience. While the typical “out of body experience” sensation can be recreated when stimulation to the brain occurs, it is still not entirely understood. It is intriguing to think of the body as a ‘soft machine’ to our consciousness, and to think of our consciousness or “souls” as separate from our bodies. People can be “alive” yet clinically brain dead or even be paralyzed or detached from the body and have full brain activity, which may indicate that in fact consciousness is transient, separate and fluid. I wanted to demonstrate this in keeping the consciousness/soul separate from the body, and as if the body is simply holding us together as shown in the hand grasping the mirror reflecting the face: the center of our consciousness and identity.
Furthermore I used classical vanitas motifs in the darkness of the cage, moth, dying flowers and serpent-like plants emerging from the head of the figure to represent the mystifying transience of life and the impending element of death. While such things may be survived by the few that do experience near death experiences, the delicate and mysterious concept of life and death is a universal experience of the human condition that we all must reflect upon.”