One lone cube.
Although it may not look much – this cube almost destroyed me (for a little while anyway). As by now, if you’ve read any of my other posts or even seen any of my work – the main and recurring theme is mental health – mainly depression. But not just the stereotypical form of depression that everyone thinks and knows. I am portraying my own story and perhaps others will have similar ones too.
My aim for this piece of work was simply to get ride of the cube that you see before you. What may sound simple was actually a very pain staking and trivial task. The cube was made out of rather dense polystyrene (a material that I have been experimenting with in the past few months). I wanted to create a film simply of me destroying the object – having something and then having nothing. Being able to see an object disappear by just my hands. As simple as that.
The idea behind this was to perhaps demonstrate in a way how hard it is to keep going. It is a never-ending cycle – depression. It comes and goes in waves. One day you are okay and the next you are completely broken – but that’s okay. The destroying of the cube is symbolic journey of despair, determination and a journey of persistence and dedication that in the end it will be worth it. The destroying of the cube is perhaps trying to be a literal form of depression? I am making my illness(es) into something physical. Throughout the destruction of the cube I was overcome with many different emotions and thoughts. It was a journey of self appreciation in a way because there were at some points (a lot of points) I believed that I could not continue. I was in both physical and mental agony. However, in the end the cube was gone – merely just shreds of left over polystyrene laying in a heap on the ground.
At first I was rather optimistic about the whole thing. I was excited to get started and I cleared out a full day to make sure I had enough time to complete the task as I anticipated it would take quite a long time – as I had previously did a mini test run/experiment which is also documented before as ‘Take One”. The test run took about 2 and a half hours alone and It barely even looked as though I had made a dent within the object – so I knew I was in for a long sitting. Knowing the length of time that it would take me, did not phase me. I enjoy spending so much time on something and distancing myself from reality for a little while – in a way it is very therapeutic for me. Making the time to sit and repeat one gesture/movement felt worthwhile to me as I knew in the end I would have created something that could display my obsessiveness and the control that I feel that I need.
Whilst having several mental illnesses it can often feel like I am not in control, not one bit – which is a thing that also stresses me out as I need to have everything organised and planned out. So when I have my days and weeks planned out to the tiniest detail and then a day comes along where I am feeling ridiculously overwhelmed with emotions or sometimes I also feel disconnected from reality – as if I am dreaming. This makes it hard as everything I had planned goes down the drain as I cannot function properly within theses periods of doubt/disablement.
As I mentioned, at first I was rather optimistic about the whole project and I had geared myself up for weeks to find the perfect day where I could spend the whole time away from reality.
I started off just the thing – optimistic about it. I was excited and more than ready for the challenge ahead. At this time in the process I am unsure what I was even thinking about – I was just content. I was in my own little world daydreaming about unimportant things probably, enjoying the peace and quiet and serenity of my little dream world away from our mundane and stressful world.
As I kept going I realised that the polystyrene seemed to be getting tougher as I was getting deeper into the centre. However, I do not know if this is the case or not – I think it could have perhaps been my imagination since I had already been at it for a few hours.
After about 2 and half hours, my back started to get really sore from sitting on the floor and doing the same movement over and over again. But as it was – I kept on powering through.
My hands also started to get very sore with blisters and the repetitive movements. I obviously needed some amount of force and power to cut through the polystyrene as it was quite dense – and eventually this took its tole. I was beginning to wish for it to be over but at that point, in my eyes, I felt as though I had hardly done anything. I do not like to lose control and with the pain that I started inflicting on myself, this was making me lose a little control in the sense that I was starting to feel as though I could not go on.
This feeling, however, is important. It was important to feel like this because in the past I have often felt like this with life. I have had a few instances where self harming or even suicidal thoughts have got in the way and I did not want to continue. I wanted to be free from this world – this reality because for someone like me it can be unbelievably overwhelming and overbearing that sometimes it is too much to handle. On the contrary to this, although it is hard to cope with – sometimes I feel bad about feeling so bad. I feel guilty in a way for feelings so stressed and under the weather because there is in reality much worse things going on in the world right now. There is war, rape, murder – you name it – there are beyond hideous and unimaginable things happening in our world right now and here is me feeling a little sad or stressed because something did not go to plan. And believe me when I say I wish I was not like this – I was I could just move on from things but I guess it is just the way that I am. I did have a difficult childhood, that not many know about, actually I am pretty sure no one knows about and that is fine – I like it that way. I guess what I am trying to say, is there is a reason for everything. Everyone has a reason to feel the way that they feel – even if it seems stupid or childish. It is a valid reason – everything is.
I would be working on one side of the cube and I would look at it thinking that I had made some progress – then I would turn it around and then I would realise actually I have barely made a dent.
Throughout the process of taking photos of the whole thing – it was not as easy as planned either. I thought at first, that I could just set the camera up and then it would take photos every 5 seconds or whatever but a problem that did occur that I had not thought about – was the battery of the camera dying. So every time this happened, I would quickly get up and change the battery, but at the same time I would change the angle of the camera and the tripod. I did not just want it the same angle the full time. I wanted some perhaps odd shots with parts cropped off. I was unsure why at first, but I think it is because it kind of adds another aesthetic element to it.
The main part about this piece of work, isn’t about how it looks but it is about how it felt to me. How it was as a process? It’s to make the audience think about how long it took and how tedious it was. But why? Because it’s hard. In reality, if I explained this quickly to someone – they would be like oh okay, that’s pretty straight forward where as really, it may seem like a simple task but it takes so much work and patience and determination.
By the time I got to about 7 hours, I was really struggling. I could barely move my hand, I felt like crying. I was so cold – it was freezing where I was working. I felt physically sick from doing the exact same movement for that long – I needed to stop. I had spent just over 7 hours and I felt like I wasn’t even half way through – and although my aim was to do this in the one sitting, I physically could not do anymore. My hands were covered in blisters that had started to bleed, I was close to tears (normally I am not a crying person), I was just done in.
I felt guilty that I could not finish it in the one go. For about the last hour of this sitting, I was going back and forth in my head about wether I should keep going or stop. I waned to stop for a long time before but I could not bring myself to go. I needed to finish but in the end I had to take a break. It was 7 hours and 22 minutes that I went cutting this cube, non stop – no breaks (apart from to change the battery and go to the bathroom). It was tough, a lot tougher than I thought. I just did not want to do it, I was at the end of my tether.
So after that day, I went home and I was just away with the fairies. I was so disconnected from reality even though I was back in reality. I felt like I was dreaming but I was awake, everything was sort of blurred and as though it was not real.
When I went back to it the next day, I was more determined than I was at the beginning. Because I felt guilty it almost gave me more of a drive. I was ready to go. I just wanted to get stuck in straight away. I started to work straight away and kept going at a quick and steady pace. So much so, that I started to get really warm – almost as though I was working out having some exercise. I felt a lot more upbeat as I finally started to notice some progress of the cube getting smaller and smaller.
After another few hours, I was done. I was so chuffed. I had not been defeated. It might have taken me a very long time to get there but I had done it. There was no longer an object – merely the dust that surrounded it. I felt on top of the world. Who knew that something so simple could make one feel so alive!
I know that this all sounds cliche – in reality all I did was take a part a little cube for no apparent reason. But that is the point. Something might seem so pointless and unimportant to one person but in someones else’s world it means everything. It is hard to keep track of such a complicated and tricky lifestyle. It is stressful sometimes and sometimes you no longer want to keep going. You just want it to be over – I know that I did anyway. It is tough but it can be worth it in the end. I’m not going to sit here and say that everything is fun and worthwhile because well it is not. But struggling with mental health issues can intensify everything. It can intensify the bad times and the good times and I guess the solution is to try and find the balance within there.
I’m not really sure – but I know what I mean in my own mind. I don’t think everything should be explained down to the tiniest detail, some things are better left to the imagination and should be allowed for ones own mind to wander.
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