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    "Can you repeat that, please ...

    By ark9th
    Dec 10, '06 2:11 AM EST
    ... *laughs* ... Just kidding.”

    You’d think that I would feel relieved that I was done with this project, and actually I was. I was actually done with this“self-portrait”summer 2005. According to the professor, we were the first class (Fall 2006) to do this kind of project. Being the loud mouth that I unintentionally can be, I was about to shout out that I had already done this project in the first design course. Was this really a good idea? To open my mouth, and possibly ruin people’s hopes and ideas of a project like this — I mean, haven’t I learned from the past to just shut my mouth when I have one of my “brilliant ideas”? Besides, couldn’t this be my opportunity to really refine my old project, make something new and better of it? I already had the design and basic idea, refining the project shouldn’t be too hard!

    ... this was just the beginning of my problems.

    keyword: glue: how things are attached, or held together

    A fellow, yet disliked classmate, had the idea of naming this project “Abstract Self-Portrait,” while she turned in her written report of the project. Well, the professor had us write a preliminary written report, giving us a guideline as we had to describe the composition and organization of the portrait, structure, materials used, and space. I don’t remember reading any of the preliminary reports, only the secondary/condensed reports.

    Even though there is a stereotype that architects simply cannot, or do not know, how to write, that actually me be ... well ... write! Nevertheless, only our written reports explained to the public what our portraits represented. But, if it was difficult enough to explain to the professor what every single detail meant, now condensing this into a single typed page, it is just impossible! But we all tried – although, not everyone would agree that we all tried.

    However, just like the simple, uninteresting, plain title of “Abstract Self-Portrait,” the written reports become just as dull for many of the students. Instead of explaining what their pieces meant by describing the meaning of each material and color used, most just made of list of keywords: happy, sad, life, death, freedom, restraint ... endless words that have so many meanings, yet, unfortunately, described the person well if you knew who the person is, and that was actually a main part of the project to begin with.

    Anyway, this is my first report where I describe my self portrait by the terms of the professor.

    Self-Portrait: Concept Statement
    Composition and Organization

    The self-portrait is a double perspective, consisting of an exterior and interior perspective, representing how people see me, and how an individual really is. Currently, the individual is at the point of connecting with the subconscious side, understanding what it consists of as he comes to realize many views of society and even life itself as seen from the interior perspective of the portrait. These views are portrayed on the exterior of the portrait, with a collage of works done at different time periods. In conjunction, I am representing who I am to those who see me, and who I am to myself.


    The structure of the portrait consists of uniform shapes, such as the square, triangle, and circle. The foundation and base of the portrait are squares, as well as the base of the platonic solid structure. The squares represent the basis of society, and how in the Hispanic culture society in a way has to be perfect in accordance with the basic beliefs or morals. A person then is supposed to act or be a certain way, something influenced on a child since their birth. The triangular structure in the middle represents a wall or shield an individual is forced to put on them, especially Hispanic males who have an inflicted idea on them to not portray their emotions or feelings, but rather be tough and strong. This irregular triangle, without a third visible side, and with different interior angles, is the unexpected part of the individual, the rebelliousness he/she dares to take upon society. Being taller than the uniform platonic solids, it as well represents the superiority an individual feels due to the rebelliousness. Nevertheless, the individual also has the capability of portraying that subconscious side of him to society, and this is done with the pole, surrounded by the essence, or cloth, of the individual’s subconscious state of mind. The subconscious mind is portrayed in its entirety with the use of circles, and spheres, shapes without faces, vertices, or sides to them, unlike the triangles and squares.


    For the foundation, the use of foam board represents the hidden weakness society itself is founded upon. You have styrofoam enclosed in a board, the basis of society that when completely exposed can reveal its own flaws. The base of the portrait, an acrylic material, is the overall concept of strength that every individual places on their morals and beliefs. This strength, although existent, is invisible to some people with different mentalities or views on this particular society. The use of paper in the triangular collage represents the existing wall that is weak enough for the individual to tare down when desired. The power of the individual is much stronger than that of a society, because even so, society is made up of individuals, and if one falls back then the rest may follow. This triangular shield protects the frail individual, represented in styrofoam. The black color of the styrofoam shapes represents a secretive individual, mysterious, yet at the same time mystic enough to know secrets of the world that cannot, or that would not, be revealed yet still known about. The pole enclosed in black cloth is the portrayed subconscious state of mind of the individual, a yet even frailer but at the same time a free flowing material that could trespass whatever boundaries, and even enclose whatever gets in its way.


    Overall, the triangular space, enclosed in the square base, enforces the way society believes an individual should be: a follower of the morals and beliefs of society. Nevertheless, the square space has no walls or structure to enclose the individual, so the individual has the choice of becoming superior to society and defying what keeps him away from following the laws of nature, expressing emotions, feelings, and appreciating life itself.

    Phrases/sentences Not Used:

    basis of society is one central idea

    certain individuals go beyond the setbacks, and dare to defy the basic morals, beliefs, and customs of their society. In this case, it is through creativity that the individual overcomes the setback to a point where it becomes superior to an inferior basis, only to shield a frail, but new central idea of a single individual.

    Anyway, if it is the individual that makes up his or her society, why shouldn’t he be allowed to manipulate/live in society as is best fit, yet still be following the laws of human nature?

    The professor believed our reports to be too long – although, probably my preliminary report was the longest there was (HEY, I LOVE TO WRITE!). It was then decided that our written reports were to be condensed to fit one sheet of paper, in Arial, size 14 font. Besides being a confusing writer that can take one topic from so many different levels and scramble a written report, I like to express as much as I can and therefore come up with long written pieces. Condensing my report was not an easy thing for me to do, I actually disliked that idea. The only solution I could find to this kind of situation is to just rewrite my report. I guess I did that, yet I still took direct bits and pieces of the preliminary written piece to come up with the condensed version. This is what I came up with:

    Abstract Self Portrait

    The self-portrait consists of two perspectives – an interior and an exterior – representing how people see the individual and how an individual really is. In connecting with the subconscious side, and understanding what it consists of, the individual comes to realize the many views of society and even life itself. These views are symbolically present on the portrait: in the exterior, as a uniform structure of Platonic solids, and in the interior, by the use of circles and spheres, flowers, and a candle, bound by a black space. Collectively, the individual represents who he is to those who see him, and who he is to himself, both as defined by his culture.

    The foundation and base of the portrait are both uniform squares, as well as the base of the platonic solid structure. The squares represent the basis of society, and how in culture an individual has to be perfect in accordance with basic beliefs and morals. A person then is suppose to act, or be, a certain way, something influenced on a person since birth. The triangular structure in the middle represents a wall or shield and individual is forced to put on himself, especially a male who has the inflicted idea to not portray inner emotions or feelings. This irregular triangle, without a third visible side, is the unexpected part of the individual, the rebelliousness he dares to take against his culture. Being taller than the uniform platonic solids, the triangle as well represents the superiority an individual feels due to his rebelliousness, and is emphasized by a collage of works. The collage, placed in the exterior, present the individual as how he is to the public: a creative person with a mind full of thoughts, ideas, and especially, emotions.

    An individual has as much, or even more power, than that of a society as a whole because society is made up of individuals, and if one were to fall then the society would as well collapse. Thus, the triangular shield protects the frail individual, represented in styrofoam spheres and circles. The black color of the styrofoam shapes represent a secretive individual, mysterious, yet at the same time mystic enough to know secrets of the world that cannot, or that would not, be revealed in their entirety because such ideas and beliefs of human nature are what make up the individual, in the first place. Once an individual has sought and has found the secrets of life itself, he then becomes strong enough to support a society, while still following the basis of human nature, and life itself. In the case of this particular individual, people may see a subconscious state of mind, that although frail, carries clues to answers: the spirals going in circles, or the environment revolving around us.

    It was somewhere to begin with, or finalize. That’s exactly what I did with this project, once I got it graded (B+), and got it displayed in the lobby of the Technology Building where the Architecture Department and classes are located at. When I finished reading my report, the professor asked me to read it again, everyone laughed, funny joke, wasn’t it?! It was! Actually, I got the reaction I was expecting: confusion. I like to make my readers think, a little too much says one teacher of mine, but hey, that’s just my style. Read between the lines, and you’ll understand what I mean, or live my moments, and you’ll definetly see what’s both visible and invisible.

    The greatest thing about this project is its present stage: its invisible stage. I threw away the project at the first opportunity I got. Its not that I disliked it, its just that it wasn’t done in the right way. The protrait needed so much more, or maybe a little less. Adding, deleting, putting on, taking away — so many things could go and come off this project, so the only solution was to start it all over. I intend to do just that when I get the chance, or at least continue doing that since I’ve got ideas written down on my sketchbook, already.

    Anyway, I finally understood the meaning of one of Leonardo da Vinci’s quotes, where he says that no work of art is ever complete. My self portrait, then, in terms of its art phase, was just beginning. No wonder fate allowed me to go back and redo this project! Weird, isn’t it?


    • i almost stopped reading near the beginning but i'm glad i kept going. great story. great process that your instructor made you pursue (because version 2 is certainly better). and great learning project. at this point explaining every form and material decision is impt because you need to learn whath they can ACTUALLY communicate. later on you'll be required to let the forms and materials speak for themselves - no words - and you'll have an understanding of what works/what doesn't.

      sure, your writing could use a little editing and clarifying, but you have a remarkable way of always getting to a point of clarity where you learned something and i learned something with you. last paragraph is beautiful.

      regarding trashing your project, i understand fullly: i torched the models from my undergrad thesis for a similar reason. the project never measured up for my ambition for it. fifteen years later now, and i know that i'll spend a career thinking about what the project should have been, because it's still on my mind. maybe someday i'll attack it again.

      Dec 10, 06 7:28 am  · 

      I agree with steven. while i'm compassionate about your reasons for destroying your project, my own selfish desire to see the project you're writing about hopes you took some photos to show the Archinect community. If not for us, the photos will come in handy later for your portfolio submissions and nostalgic memory lane walks.

      Keep up the good work: "There's no such thing as good writer, only a good re-writer."


      Dec 10, 06 5:03 pm  · 

      Thoughts with a lot of depth and good points. People really like your blog. You are a truly remarkable person geometry dash lite.

      Feb 22, 23 4:52 am  · 

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About this Blog

... that's right, nothing but studying, and studying, and more studying. Turns out I like to study so much and be involved with problem solving, that I ended up changing majors: now I am a Civil Engineer Major ... and not even at the same school where I started out my academic life at. Getting ready for some new adventures, and reminiscing about the old ones which were primarily full of drama. But like everyone says: "That's life" ... and I'm just starting mine :)

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