Narrative or Portrayal of Feelings?

Blog mission revisited

My original mission was to blog about my relationship with my older autistic brother as well as neuroscience, philosophy, medical ethics and mental health treatment history. During the first 11 months of this blog (starting in January 2013), I recapped my efforts to understand Mike over the years. After the visit to see him, with the rest of my family, something happened. I realized that there was no real chance of communicating with him or even understanding him. I changed my mission. Neuroscience, philosophy and the rest are still on the agenda, but I decided to try using the visual art for to express my own feelings.

It is a bit troublesome changing modes. I am trained in the sciences and find myself gravitating toward analysis of a problem instead of dwelling on how I feel about it. I also has been a long time since I have been in regular contact with my brother.However, I am sure that I can reconstruct my original feelings using some of the photographs I took during my long-term projects about my relationship with Mike (a memoir – My Brother Michael, a photography exhibition – Brotherly Love and a virtual reality world – Mike’s World).

The Plan

A superficial look at the art of Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee and Jean Miró inspired me to look for a visual shorthand of expressions. I know that Kandinsky had his own theory about colors and shapes, which he used in his visual art. I am fairly certain that Paul Klee and Jean Miró had their own shorthand, in the form of visual icons.

I have been working on developing my own iconography. Since I am enthralled by the study of the brain, the icons I developed at first represent the physical senses. I also have an icon for memory, which is based on a cross-section of the hippocampus: interlocking “C”s.

Since one experiences sensations first hand, it is not a very big leap to the representation of feelings. In my ‘Barrier Series’ (Back to Abstract?VariationMy NicheSketchingBarrier #5 Completed, Barrier Series with Gestures), I use my icons to represent how I feel on my side of the barrier and how I imagine Mike’s world is, on his side.

The issue: narrative versus portrayal of feeling

Surely I have other feelings aside from the frustration of not being able to communicate with my big brother. For instance, my parents thought they shielded my little brother and me from Mike’s influence. That effort may have been successful for my little brother, who says he blocked out memory of Mike, but clearly it wasn’t for me.

How do I represent how I feel about that? I can easily come up with an icon for my father; a shield is a shield; I can even come up with a set of icons for my younger brother. But I am struggling with the distinction of using icons as pictograms – another way of writing – as opposed to using them to depict my feelings.

Perhaps they work together below.

Today’s study:


Study with visual icons - narrative or portrayal of feelings?

Shield Study
5″x7″ 140# Rough Watercolor Block

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