Ghosts: Materialising the Inner Self
featuring garments by Shawn Soh
Even though consciousness, soul and mind are nonmaterial, they are not separate or independent from the physical world. When we open our eyes, what we see depends on what is out there in the materialised world. For example, perceptual experience is the translation of physical to mental – with the happenings in the physical world producing experiences in the mental world.
The opposite of this process can also occur. For example, when you decide to raise your arm, the mental decision results in a physical action. Provided that these causal connections are in place, in theory, you will be able to interact with the physical world even if in reality your mental self is located elsewhere, i.e. when you look into the mirror, you see yourself but your mental self may not exist within the physical body that you see before you.
According to the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, “in
the philosophy of mind, dualism is the theory that the mental and the physical – or mind and body or mind and brain – are, in some sense, radically different kind of things. Because common sense tells us that there are physical bodies, and because there is intellectual pressure towards producing a unified view of the world, one could say that materialist monism is the ‘default option’. Discussion about dualism, therefore, tends to start from the assumption of the reality of the physical world, and then to consider arguments for why the mind cannot be treated as simply part of that world” (Robinson, 2011).
Gordon W. Allport (1961), one of the first psychologists to focus on the study of the personality, raises a question about the self: “Who is the I that knows the bodily me, who has an image of myself and a sense of identity over time, who knows that I have propriate strivings? I know all these things, and what is more, I know that I know them. But who is it who has this perspectival grasp? ... It is much easier to feel the sand than to define the self.”
On this note, I have been exploring a personal hypothesis that imagines the body to be a container for multiple human selves, called “Ghosts.” Disregarding the accepted notions of science and the unified view of self, Ghosts sees the physical body as a portal to an alternate reality (different from the one we are used to) where our multiple selves (or “Ghosts”) reside. The idea is that we, as individuals, are seen as one, but we are made out of many. Our body is singular but we behave differently according to which Ghost we are possessed by, reacting diversely according to the environment and situation.
“Ghosts” is an exploration of materialising multiple selves that live within the body. By creating costumes with experimental materials that embody the personalitlies and characteristics of the various Ghosts, the garments distort and break the human form, obscuring and changing its normal movement and behaviour. Through a series of short mood films, “Ghosts” visualises inner selves within the other reality, imagining how the intangible selves would look when materialised.