Personal Essence

2018 - 2019
Self-ethnography • Data-Art • Logotherapy

Visualising the human within.

The challenge

Amongst human challenges, the journey of self is perhaps the biggest. In this exploration, I pondered perspectives of Taoism, Zen, and Buddhism; works of Adler, Freud, and Frankl; but also self-help titles of Pressfield and Covey. Many conclude: man cannot be defined but observed and accepted.

Absurdly literally, I embarked on a self-ethnographic data-mining journey through 3800+ artifacts from my life to observe and map myself. It did help me break through some of my perceptive limitations around purpose and agency and freed me to set on a new direction as a maker.

Originally intended as a curious data-art project, I now wonder if it could be applied as a form of ’auto-psychotherapy’ to help others.

A self-inquiry project to investigate my history and it's consequences.

If we are ought to manifest our unique capabilities as work only we can create, isn't it logical to first try to fully understand what are we made of?

At first I tried to approach this subjectively, working from memory and feelings. But the results weren't satisfying. It felt inaccurate.

And so I turned to ethnographic methods for help. In a strike of complete madness, I collected almost 4000 artifacts from my life, including photographs, diplomas, testimonials, and more.

This however turned out to be a fruitful source material for building more satisfying self-understanding and developing 3 frameworks that could be applied to other's self-discovery.

One such framework is the above pictured Personal Radar — an exercise mapping characteristics into a graph — the color and polarity showcases negative / positive traits, direction from centre speaks of how central the trait is to one's being.

Additionally, this exercise resulted in few artworks, serving as constant reminders of what made me, and where I'm heading.

Later in 2019 parts of this exercise served as a basis for the first Ūnderconference, that I organized in Estonia.