BREAKING FREE: a visual story of control

Part fiction, part essay, part graphic representation, Breaking Free depicts a coming of age story following Zack, a 10 year old boy discovering his place within the world. Specifically, the relationship his actions have with the architecture that surrounds him and vice versa.



After he removes the icepack, he uses a deep pour cleanser lotion. Once in the shower, he uses a water activated gel cleanser, then a honey almond body scrub, followed by an exfoliating gel scrub. Then he will apply an herb-mint facial mask for 10 minutes while he prepares the rest of the routine. He always uses an aftershave lotion with little or no alcohol, because alcohol dries me out, and makes the rest of him look older. Then moisturizer, then an anti-aging eye balm, followed by a final moisturizing protective lotion.

This rigorous process is repeated daily. Step-by-step he ensures that I will remain perfect. It may seem excessive, but as the first object of interaction between him and anyone else, I am clearly the symbol of everything that he has brought with him. Of all the other parts of him, I have the highest degree of inner unity. I truly am the window into his soul, and therefore require the most care and effort to remain idealised. When you look at him, you see me. Any change instigated by him to any of my individual elements (curl of my lips, upturning of the nose, frowning, etc.) immediately modifies my entire character and expression. My wholeness is therefore a product of maintaining perfection amongst several individual components. Unbeknownst to him, I am the aggregation of billions of microscale cells that come together to create the image we work on together and then portray to the world. The complexity of the system that forms me means that variation in my outward appearance is readily occurring at scales that render those changes either visible or invisible to him. Regardless of the type of change to me, this means that the baseline instigated by him through hours of aesthetic treatment is extremely vulnerable to manipulations.

The intense detail and repetition of his routine is in direct contrast to the unknowability and complete randomness of the world that surrounds us. At any moment, I can be altered beyond the point of potential return to that stated baseline. What is the point then? Why go through so much effort to maintain perfection, if at any moment he can be abolished into nothingness, or worse I can be damaged beyond repair? The answer is beauty. A level of beauty that we all strive for, but cannot quantify, see, or know for sure if we have arrived at it. I represent an aesthetic quality that doesn’t need explaining. I am not a metaphor for anything, and any emphasis on either my wholeness or individual elements as such can be considered unnecessary. I facilitate communication, but was not created to be communicative. I am present, I am significant, I have emptiness. I am real.  

I am a face. I am his face. I will never be more than that, but I don’t have to be.