The second assignment in my drawing class is to take a look at how scale can change an image. Something pictured on a 3″x 3″ piece of paper will necessary deliver a different impact than the same thing on a 30″ x 30″ piece of paper. It’s is a fairly straightforward idea and exercise.
For the assignment, however, I thought I would look at another version of scale. I thought you could also use the exercise to illustrate the cumulative impact of street harassment. Often dismissed as “just a comment” or worse, minimized as a complement, it can be hard to articulate the long term impact of these small acts. On the continuum of sexual violence which includes all levels of sexual assault, child sexual exploitation, homophobia as well as street harassment, these “small” comments can seem relatively banal.
The interesting thing about an exercise in scale, is that one small comment, repeated 10x begins to illustrate the actual scale of the problem.
As a subject I had three friends pose a regular street scene: a woman about to pass two men. I completed one 3” x 3” and then completed 10x that amount to make a full picture of 10 x the smal scene.
Each picture is different, representing the way trauma is remembered by the brain. The brain will remember some things very clearly, and other things are almost entirely forgotten. Together the pictures form a background picture of the woman, now dark, surrounded by figures. These figures visually represent the mind after experiencing on-going street harassment. No longer in a open public space, the woman carries in her psyche the watching presence of the internalized male gaze.
On Friday I hope to blog about the critique:)