The awkward moment : an exegesis presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Master of Fine Art at Massey University

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Massey University
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It started out as an absurd experiment and then it turned into art. At first the strangest thing for me was the shock of the electric currents on my muscles. It was unnerving to feel the electricity charge through my muscles, then to see and feel my arms flicking up without me voluntarily willing them too. I had already filmed a volunteer undergoing the process, but even that could not fully prepare me for the sensation. At first I could not use the muscle stimulator without the feeling of it making me scream and laugh. However for the sake of getting the footage I wanted, I learnt to control myself. Eventually, to capture more drama on digital video the electrical shock rates I were using were at the top end of the scale. It's amazing how much you can become desensitized to uncomfortable sensations. Its more unnerving now to watch the footage after the fact and to realize that it can never fully capture the experience of the process. I became aware of the tension between how we inhabit our body and how the dynamics of power work on the individual. At a base level this work is about mechanisms of power and control and a reaction to the societal constructs we live in. On another level it's an attempt to articulate the strangeness of the reality we find ourselves in. A reaction. To sit and film myself twitching involuntarily. To film other people twitching involuntarily. To film myself and my twin sister twitching involuntarily. To be hooked up to a machine. To become a cyborg. To become a Siamese twin. To become a freak. Why? Because sometimes to articulate what you find problematic within a system you have to work with its language: to have a voice.
Rebecca Pilcher, Electrical shocks, Power and control, Fine arts video