Sunday, August 9, 2009

Art and Reimaging

Accompanied by three friends, I went to an interesting art opening last night. A reimaging of Sharon Tate, a mixed media series created by Jeremy Kenyon Lockyer Corbell, the exhibit was commissioned by the Tate family to return attention to her acting and modeling and away from the grisly death at the hands of the Manson family. The giant photographs sprinkled with paint drippings and marked with intricate drawings and random words hung on the brick walls. Two of the semi-nude, provocative images showcased Sharon Tate's sex appeal, a blend of innocence, natural beauty, and rebel. In a few of the other ones, candid shots, the smiling sweet and pure face screamed of naivete and unbridled joy. Only one of the pictures, the one with a blank stare, hinted at any possible sadness or darkness. Other than the image I had of her from my repeated viewings of "Valley of the Dolls," which was in constant rotation on TBS when I was a kid, whenever I heard Sharon Tate mentioned, my mind went to the movie scenes and photo stills of her lying in a pool of blood on the floor her home. Thanks to the exhibit, I now have new images to conjure up when I hear her name.

After seeing what reimaging did for Sharon Tate, I started thinking about how I could reimage parts of my life. What if I took all those photos of me as a fat kid, the ones where my eyes look like slits cut with a dull knife because the fat on my cheeks had claimed squatter's rights to where my eyes were supposed to reside, and photoshopped them? I'd lengthen my round face into more of an oval shape and evict some of the fat from my cheeks. My curly hair would be straight, giving me that perfect hairstyle I always wanted, the hairstyle where I could actually use the comb I kept in my back pocket instead of the brush with thick bristles.

What if I could go one step farther and reimage parts of my life that are catalogued in my mind? Every time I hear disco music, I'd no longer think of my embarrassing fall as I walked across the dancefloor at my 7th grade prom. The stacked heels were slick, and my baby blue leisure suit was too long. Whenever I smelled fresh apples growing in nature, I'd just think of the juicy taste of them and not unpleasant moments too heinous to discuss. When I'd see pigs, I'd think of my pet Wilbur hanging out in my room with me and not the cooked piece of ham on the breakfast table of my house that he became. And if I touched a public bathroom stall handle, I wouldn't think of germs, diseases, and death, I'd think of how relieved all the people felt once they walked out of the stall.

Now, though, as I am contemplating last night, I wonder how long it will be before life imitates art. We're almost there in some respects. We can change the way we look with surgery. We can change the way we think with therapy, meditation, drugs, etc. Sure, a lot of good can come from changing our looks, thoughts, and memories. However, pretty soon we'll be able to reimage our entire existence.

To quote, MoMo, a beautiful Korean woman and a new friend of mine, who is a brilliant comic book artist and painter (, "If you have L.A. money, you can make anything beautiful and nice." Since I don't have L.A. money yet, and I've finally gotten to the point where I like myself, my present self and my past self, I think I'll leave the reimaging to the artists.

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