Editing Thoughts is a visual exploration of how anxiety affects the body and mind. The objective of this project is to bridge the gap between those who suffer from anxiety and those who don’t comprehend the effects of anxiety. This book is meant to aid friends and family of the individual to more deeply understand the physical and mental symptoms of anxiety. The book guides the viewer through a chaotic and disorienting visual journey, simulating anxiety at its worst with the aim of evoking empathy. Editing Thoughts also has a second purpose, this being to encourage healthier thought behaviour. This notion is based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which aids the individual in identifying negative anxiety-triggering thoughts in the effort to correct and train the brain to think more positively, minimizing anxiety triggers. Editing Thoughts educates both the afflicted and the comprehensively challenged.
Editing Thoughts is a compilation of photographs that simulate the mental and physical strains of which anxiety inflicts. Motion blur is incorporated in many of the photos, imitating the never-still mind and the constant assault of thoughts and involuntary movements provoked by anxiety. The intense shadows used in the black and white photography represents the dark thoughts and the depression that often accompanies anxiety. There are also negative phrases throughout the book, which have been typed out and edited with pen markings that scratch out negative words. This is where CBT is incorporated into the visuals, these phrases become more positive be eliminating the negative words. The phrases are on ripped pieces of paper and are distorted, making them hard to read at times. This is to represent the frustration with anxiety and the ways in which anxiety can distort thoughts.
The yellow windows scattered throughout the book are used to highlight certain aspects of the images, as well as represent fear and happiness. The balance between fear and happiness is a constant struggle for many and it's important to comment on the duality of this chosen hue. Yellow represents fear and cowardice, but it can also represent happiness and light. This colour comments on the goal of becoming happy and the fear of succumbing to anxiety. The slightly irregular shape of the book and unusual material of the book cover is intended to be a little unnerving, causing minor discomfort. The cover of the book is wood painted a glossy black, the contrast between the visual glossiness and the texture of the wood is odd. The covers are left blank, giving no hint to what lays inside. The outward appearance is intended to be enigmatic and unnerving because anxiety also possesses these qualities. Newsprint was used to enhance the grittiness of the photos and add another layer of contrast of textures used throughout the book. The yellow acetate wrapper is used to tie in the yellow windows/boxes within the book as well.
Editing Thoughts really evolved throughout the yearlong process of creating this piece. My initial thoughts on representing anxiety originated with glitch art and digital manipulation. The first prototype of this project was a very experimental book, which included many superfluous and convoluted elements. The prototype had flaps that hid and revealed negative phrases. The distortion was more prominent in the images, where the spreads were cut into three sections and the viewer could flip through the book and distort the images themselves. The project resulted in Editing Thoughts, which became an educational, yet artistic thesis piece, combatting stigma and raising awareness.