The Architectonics of Identity Construction
My work of two images of naked women can be explained through Bakthin’s theory on architectonic. As discussed, architectonic deals with the two kind of self – the ‘I for myself’ and the ‘I for the other’. The two images that I worked can be understood with these two concepts of Bakthin.
The first woman in the left, the one who is not facing the viewer is an image of a perfect or an almost perfect body shape of a woman. Using the general and usual criteria of our current society (or even the criteria of earlier generation), her body, with its narrow waist and well-formed butt perfectly or almost perfectly corresponds the societal perception of a perfect woman’s body. Her posture communicates and indicates a sense of being ‘at home’ to where she is planting herself. With her good way of carrying herself with an East Asian or South Asian way of seating, we can conclude that this woman possesses a higher sense of self. Her perception and image of herself is perfect, both in terms of physical shapes and sizes and her view on herself from the intellectual realm.
In this respect, we can conclude that this image is the representation of Bakthin’s ‘I for myself’ which is described as the centrist aspect of human nature. The first image is a very good example of this self-sustaining and independent I-for myself.
The second image on the right of the art work is an image (possibly the same woman or not) with almost the same perfection in terms of her body image. She has well-defined muscles in addition to the femininity of her breast, her legs and core. However, the thing that separates this woman or the pose of this woman (in case they are the same woman) is how she portrayed or posted herself in the work. The way she positioned herself signifies and communicates vulnerability and susceptibility. Despite the beauty and perfection of her body, she failed to mimic the rigidness and independence of the other image of the woman. The second woman shows being prone to judgment or feedbacks from any outside entity. It seems that there is a struggle between herself and the environment (or her spectators) that made her conscious of herself.
In this respect, with the way we defined the I-for-the-other which is generally an interaction of how we see ourselves in relation to other people can be interpreted in the second image of the woman in the right. In the said image, we can clearly see that the character of this woman is in relation to environment or the people around her. What she is and how she sees herself is partially defined on the feedback of her environment and the people around give to her.
Another notable comparison between the two women (or pose, in case they are one) is their degree of easiness of their posture. The first woman on the left is noticeably relaxed, fixed and grounded to her position. Not facing her viewers, this woman is not bothered to what her spectator would think of her. On the other hand, the woman on the right is noticeably uneasy to her position. She is conscious and reacting to the biases, opinions and feedbacks of her spectators. Rather than being relaxed just like the other woman, she bowed down while opening her body to her spectators.
With these frameworks established, we can relate the importance of opening ourselves in to other people. It is important to note that the first woman on the left was drawn on darkness. With the shades of black covering more than half of her image, we can conclude that there is something wrong on how she sees herself. With darkness enveloping her, her independence and rigidity is questionable to be regarded as something positive.
The second image on the other hand, despite being less beautiful in terms of her stance and posture can be found with lighter shades. This can be regarded as a more accurate view of herself. As she opened herself in to the environment and to the people around her, with all the feedbacks and possible criticisms, the woman managed to have a brighter picture of herself in compare to the woman on the left. This may conclude that the second woman has a better and more accurate grasp of her selfhood in compare to the woman on the left.
This art work reinforces Bakthin’s recommendation on our quest for feedback on our ourselves. Rather than containing ourselves on our own world just like what we saw on the first woman, our opening of ourselves to the world and the people around us will make us able to arrive to brighter and more accurate way of defining our self-concept.