One of the best things about this viral campaign, for me, is the fact that it reminds me of everything I was taught in college. I’ve learned to look at images and sounds in a different way, and I can’t be happier that I have the occasion to apply my knowledge to almost everything in this world, especially to such creative products as iamamiwhoami.
We’ve been given a discourse (any artistic product is a discourse, it doesn’t have to be a verbal one exclusively) and we’ve also been given a system of codes to decode this discourse. However, as the majority of people consider the only codes we have at hand are the numeric ones (numbers for letters), there are other instruments with the help of which we can decipher what the author of this work intends to transmit to us, readers.
I’m perceiving iamamiwhoami from an archetypal and mythological approach in this article. That’s because everyone can see we’re heading towards this direction whenever we try to relate clues.
Somebody mentioned on the iamamiwhoami main board that they should be ashamed of stealing someone else’s work and that person said that the author of the virals was clearly inspired by Gibson’s Pattern Recognition. I replied that pattern recognition is a technique we all apply in the act of perceiving. And thus we get to the concept of the archetype.
An archetype is an original model of a person, ideal example, or a prototype upon which others are copied, patterned, or emulated; a symbol universally recognized by all. It is a symbol or image that bridges up the mystic and the intelligible world and it may take the form of a character, concrete object or symbol, or a narrative pattern: the dangerous or devouring female, death and rebirth or any human experience, elements of nature, any type of human act expressing man’s curiosity, or search for and assertion of self.
To give you an example, water is one of the most well known archetypes. It is considered to be the source of life, of generating new forms of existence, and this is the shape in which we encounter it in these videos as well.
Strongly connected to archetypes, myths narrate the way in which reality came into being, relating events that took place in primordial time. Among others, myths explain the origin of the world/part of the world and involve the exploits of supernatural beings and events.
Even though the first impression is that archetypes work on the emotional level of a human being, they are actually reaching for the unconscious level. The basic archetypal patterns (belonging to the ‘collective unconscious’) enter consciousness as images whose power of signification makes them be used in an infinite variety of forms bearing the mark of their author’s originality. Thus us being able to relate images or events happening at one moment with images we’ve already encountered in the past. Sort of pattern recognition.
To me, iamamiwhoami is based on the collaboration of more types of myths: myths of creation, of rebirth and renewal and of transformation.
Myths of creation refer to the beginning of things and the main archetypes connected to them are: water (as source of life, of course), the egg, the sky and the earth as parents (supported by opposites such as darkness vs. light) and so on. I am sure you have recognized them all as present in the videos.
Myths of rebirth and renewal imply a conception of the world, nature or man in terms of cyclic time. The basic motifs supporting this type of myths are birth and cyclic patters of the seasons or existence. They are more than obvious with iamamiwhoami.
Last, but not least, myths of transformation refer to rites of passage, meaning rites accompanying birth, attainment of maturity, all implying the idea of transformation. I shall be talking more about this in my next article – The Journey of the Mandragora Officinarum.
- decoding iamamiwhoami – the beginnings