One of the first visual anthropology seminars included an interesting exercise, related to one becoming aware of their boundaries and space through contacts with other people. The exercise involved having two of my peers touch different areas of my body while my eyes were closed. This made me think about my boundaries and how different situations can make one feel more grounded than others. When the people in my group pressed down on my feet, I felt rooted in the ground; however, when they touched areas such as my arms or legs, I felt more like I was floating, and when I could feel their hands hover over my head I felt disconcerted. In all three situations, I was standing in the same position, the only difference was my proximity to people.
Upon reflection, this made me think about my comfort zones. As a shy person, it will always be more comfortable to learn from people you already know because you are familiar with them and your dynamic is already established. Whereas, interacting in spaces where you are not aware of how the outcome will go or how people will receive you, can be disconcerting. This alerted me to something I wanted to change about my self - my love for the known.
The most enlightening experiences I have had, have been ones where I have thrown myself into a situation where I could neither anticipate nor control the outcome of a situation. An experience I reflected on, in particular, would be the month I spent in Berlin on a travel writing experience the previous year. I chose to explore the city with the safety net of an internship. Yet, I learnt the most from spending time with people so different from myself that I never would have thought we would have anything in common and by exploring a scene I would have previously declared to have not been my thing. The parts of the trip I utilised to make me feel safe were the least inspiring aspects of my journey and the areas which I would have avoided if I had been in London created a long-lasting impression on my perspective of myself and the world.
When thinking about this experience following the exercise, I was able to understand that exploration was a necessary part of my journey and my interest in the healing potential of plants could be the start. I could not look at plant medicine as something I was just going to observe passively, but something that I was going to have to explore with a mentality I do not always carry. The possibility of rejection, not hearing what you want to hear, and hardship are the things that add to your knowledge of yourself and those around you. So, I felt that it was essential to keep this in mind while exploring the ways plants can be used to heal the mind and the body. By breaking through my own mental barriers to seek these answers, I would have already begun my path to growth. So, I approached people I otherwise would have observed from afar, I attended events that I usually would have relied on a friend to attend with me, and I embarked on small 'adventures' that I would have put off if I had not been undertaken this project. Part of this project was to think about whom you are making this for. I made this primarily for myself.
As part of the visual anthropology learning process, I created a symbolic camera. As you can see from the images, the camera is covered in typed words and when looking through the viewfinder there are more words. The reason behind this design was was to symbolise all of the images and information that a camera captures. This was done with the phrase 'a picture speaks a thousand words.’ The decision to use typed words, rather than words that were handwritten myself, was to symbolise the processing of information - the move from raw information to transformed information. The source of the text was information sheets from the Templeman Library. I chose to get the sheets of paper I used, from the library rather than printing them at home to represent the knowledge and information I have gained from the library resources as a result of my time at UKC.