IveBeenThatGirl.com and the Socio Emotional Experiment

I would like to introduce the world to a new website.

The purpose of IveBeenThatGirl.com is to give the women and girls of the world a safe space to leave behind in words those instances in life that have shaped them as people. The forum can also become a place for women and girls around the world to not just connect because of their similar stories, but to also encourage each other. 

All of this is not just in hopes of changing the world. This is also following along a new path for my work. I have decided to expand my visual language from solely multimedia and non-objective pieces. I would like to dive deeper into the world of empathy. How would this best be explored? I plan to use knowledge of mirror neurons, the vagus nerve, and empathy to my advantage. 

Mirror neurons allow us to place ourselves in someone else's shoes. The vagus nerve sends the emotional evoked from that transfer of experience throughout the entire body. Empathy is a physical connection between people. What is the difference between sympathy and empathy? 

Bene Brown explains this difference far more eloquently than I.

To begin with this new body of works, I started with an experiment. 

I have placed posters of myself around Tyler. They have adjectives scrolled across the eyes. This acts as a mask allowing for future portraits to still maintain some sense of privacy without completely blocking out any chance for connection with the viewer. These words have been chosen to try to accomplish many things. Some bluntly ask for help, "struggling" and "concerned". The others are a little more innocent; "I'm not mad", "content", and "optimistic". Every poster carries pull-tabs at the bottom that read, "respond to me", with a contact number. The responses have been very interesting. 

I am learning from the reactions, so far, that some people are aware of their surroundings. Some are willing to interact. And, some assumptions of this projects purpose are far from what I ever assumed. What is to be done with all of this?

Two things will result from this initial experiment. 

The first is that I am preparing the community around me to be on the look out for more images like the posters. I feel that introducing the public to the idea of seeing and responding to faces will aid in what I hope can be the end game. The goal, as of right now, for this new body of work is to encourage connection using empathy as a tool across all groups of people. 

I hope that the connection between viewer and portrait can become a catalyst for each individuals life. Perhaps, like IveBeenThatGirl.com, this can encourage people of different backgrounds, races, social standings, economic class, etc. can find common traits and experiences with each other. Perhaps, more giving and less judgement relationships can grow from these interactions with the posters and pieces. 

The exhibition applications will be able to tie this idea with the memorial aspects of my previous works. Examples of that will be written about in the time to come. For now I aim to collect photographs of those seen to existence on the edges of "normal" society. I am shining a light on some of the people of this world most misunderstood and over looked.

From their lives may we possibly better know our own.