Vic's ID card from UC Riverside. Just finished writing Question Reality. Tired. Puffed up cheeks. Puffy undereyes. The night before I just had only three hours of sleep. Had a gnarly argumetn with my mother in concern of the arrangement of my room (silly thing now). In bad shape at that time. In horrid shape for the entire year. Looked directly into the camera rather than a side view.
Vic's UCLA Student ID card in 2003. I had a nice, relaxing summer by that point, so my skin didn't break out with anything. But I looked into the camera directly, but almost as if I had a gloss in my eyes and wasn't fully centralized internally. I also look back: what in the hxll was a 23-year old doing in grad school? I was the youngest of the class. Compared to 2008, I stared directly into the camera, almost as if I had "knowing eyes" and have a much better sense of self and what in the hxll I am doing with my life (or perhaps, this could be an illusion of a false sense of confidence, something that all university academics supposely need to formulate: a false sense of confidence and certainty)! Ahhh! No, I have a theme for my Ph.D. and I am elated with its all-encompassing properties. Nothing to complain about.
I suppose transferring schools several times is an inefficient process, and can be viewed quite negatively, especially by the administration who was not able to provide the right academic environment for me to function and thrive. But now that I am back at UCSB, I have close to nothing to complain about. And ironically, there are two forefront benefits of transferring schools: (1) you have come to learn directly about bureaucracy and rule systems for managing education and students and resources (which is one of my advisor's research, the investigation of institutions, rights and rule systems). Essentially, I was a guinea pig of an experiment of university institutions. Maybe, that is why my advisor took me in. Transferring schools several times is perceived negatively by most people (even academics), but there were quite a few "knowing professors" at UCSB who came to understand, and potentially see these experiences as advantages. and (2) I have come to rack up quite a few student ID cards, which all still reside in my self-designed army-like purse-wallet thing (actually, it's a passport wallet converted into a purse-wallet I can hang around my neck). Student ID cards are great for getting discounts--most particularly movies.
I think these three student ID cards represent drastic transformations of myself and my perception of reality over the years. You can even see these transformations through the images themselves. The way how I look. My facial expressions. Even how I pose myself. From a timid, shy, goodie-two-shoes follow the rules clueless, underaged grad student at UCLA to a more mature, picture-posing outside-the-box environmenal media student at UCSB. I even managed to smile! I have finally reached a threshold of satisfaction with myself in terms of my brain (not that I am satisfied with myself, I have so much more to do and accomplish!)--and how the university defines me and places me--as an environmental media student. The smile and the posing and the turtle neck stretch represents my self training in photography. Which has finally paid off into a nice student ID card. Don't get me wrong in terms of self-scrutiny, I have such high self standards in aesthetics that if I don't look like Natalie Portman, I am not aesthetically optimal (from a photographic point of view). I have come to learn about and accept my own form--like my body is this strange vessel I live in but don't truly know it (yet attempting to know it)--and have come to learn my form's angles of optimized aesthetics, which is not a high region, but there are ways how to make me look tolerable to look at :-). At some angles, I look like a little girl and at other angles I look like a cartoon character. I don't know. Natalie Portman has optimized aesthetics such that if you took a picture of her at any angle, at any distance--she would still look "beautiful" from a mathematical golden-rule point of view.
Such is the pickiness of a self-critical artist as myself!