It's not often that the mere title of a piece of art strikes me enough that I jot it down verbatim on the back of the gallery guide for later examination. Perhaps not ever. Until last week. The photograph bearing the striking title struck me as well, viscerally promoting its dark irony. But of course neither struck me as hard as a more tangible object appears to have struck the subject of the portrait in question.
The title: "Self-portrait #4a: Second attempt to clone mental disorder or How one philosophizes with a hammer. After Mary Shelley, 1816." A poem in itself. The image: a version of the one above. (That's #4b. #4a is here.) The photo, by Daniel J. Martinez, is on display at the San Diego Museum of Art as part of the photo exhibit "Only Skin Deep: Changing Visions of the American Self."
These pics by Martinez bring together the grotesquely metaphysical combination of neurophilosophy and psychosurgery, through a lens of masochism. I imagine him asking: A.) How can I manipulate the ethereal by tampering with the real? B.) How far out there can I go?
And I am left asking: A.)What was his first attempt?
Considering the portrait, the movie Pi quickly sprang to mind, except in that film, the protagonist <spoiler alert> reversed his mental disorder, and did it with a power tool.</sa> And, natch, my mom's brain surgery also sprang to mind, as I imagined the nearly identical scar now hidden under her hair. (For brain surgery, the doc typically makes one long cut and peels back the scalp so that a rectangular window can be sawed out of the skull.)
A little googling turned up other images in the series here and here. They don't make much sense; despite their title, there's no apparent connection to cloning mental disorder by philosophizing with a hammer. Compared to portrait #4, they fail to stay on message. I think I like portrait #4 by itself.
(After looking at those, you may need a unicorn chaser to clear your head.)
The take-home message: Kids, Do Not Try This At Home. For a cheap psychotomimetic with no cosmetic side-effects, stick to LSD.