Mapping the Invisible: Self-Portrait — Mapping Communication

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For my self portrait, I mapped my favorite part of my life: communicating.

Over-communication is sort of a safe space for me. I’ve always been an over-thinker and speaker, solely because the mere act of speaking is comfortable for me. When I am communicating with different people/platforms/parties, I tend to manipulate my speech patterns in a way that allows me to closely monitor my counterpart’s receptivity. If I notice that they are bored or frustrated by my articulation, or if they fail to grant me “approval” or “validation,” I resort to extremes.

The blue/green layering in the background represents communication waves, but it also represents the layers within my style of communication. You’ll notice that some of the medallions (the reddish bulbs floating to the top) have not made it very far up. These represent the people/platforms that I only communicate to gather information from. There are two types of information ‘retrieval’ in my life. One is sort of like gathering points in a video game. It’s sort of shallow and manipulative — sort of sleazy. It is represented in the bluer layers.

The other type is heavy. I’m still searching for information, but in a different way. I’m searching for the answers to the bigger questions. I’m searching for validation from trustworthy sources. I hardly ever grant myself points when I engage in it, for it is the type of communication that dominates my existence. I feel like I was born to communicate in this way. This is represented in the greener layers.

Often, I let the medallions that should stay in the blue layers rise up to the green layers. They are not usually itching to make this jump, either — it’s something I tend to enable without their permission. The medallions in the gray space represent the people who I WANT to cross the black and white line, but are not capable of playing that role in my life.

The black and white dividing line represents my brain seeing the situation in ‘black and white.’ Once the medallions have passed this line, it’s nearly impossible for me to allow them to cross back over. Once I see them occupying this space, I practice the (second) type of communication with them — all the time, whether or not they want to engage.

When I don’t get the ‘points’ I set out to retrieve from the medallions occupying the blue layers, I compensate by over-communicating with the medallions in the green layers.

I am represented by the Klimt portrait in the bottom right. The mask represents my delusional sense of self, which I seek to protect (via overcommunication.)

The layers around ‘me’ represent my personality traits that I try to communicate most, and the floral medallions around these layers represent my ‘armor’ from the notion that patterns of speech do not have the power to save me.

Author: lilah dougherty