Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Ophelia's Left Breast, Volume 2

How closely have you really looked at a mammogram?

What attracts me is the fact that, as often as not, they don't look like breasts at all. I mean, not really. Look at this one:



It looks more like a jelly fish than anything else. The physical mechanics of taking the mammogram (they squeeze the breast between two plates, as I understand it) distorts the shape of the image into something really quite abstract.



This one is slightly more breast-like, but it too seems to be floating in an ocean of black, completely unconnected to anything--it's owner, most notably. Otherworldly. Hardly a part of anybody's reality.

Except those sharply-defined little white dots are most certainly part of somebody's reality. And that's what will make, I believe, an interesting painting. The false abstractness.

This has been on my mind for some time, I have to tell you. One wonders why, but there it is. So you sit around thinking. Sipping scotch and thinking.

This is my life, dear reader--sitting around, sipping whiskey, thinking about painting mammograms. And, in addition to mentally wrestling with how to paint the damned things (which, unlike what I'm about to talk about, thinking aside, you can only figure out by actually doing the painting), I sit around a lot thinking about what to call them. I wanted something on the surface of the painting to make a connection between the image and some person. As noted in the title, my first one's gonna be called "Ophelia's Left Breast." The next one will be called "Gertrude's [Something]."

Originally I thought about fake names. When I was writing video news release scripts for clients, I would often use the name Mona Mulholland as the correspondent's tag. "This is Mona Mulholland reporting..." But I didn't like that. Plus, I know me and I know that the urge to be clever would overpower my ability to refuse to do so. So no fake names. Then I thought using the names of the Fairfax High School cheerleading squad from 1971, but that seemed weird too. Then I thought maybe movie stars. "Monica Bellucci's Right Breast." But then I thought, Who the hell am I to plug anybody's actual name on the damned things? I mean, this is a sensitive matter.

So I ended up, as we so often do, with Shakespeare. The women of Shakespeare jump to mind in roughly the following order:
Ophelia
Gertrude
Rosalind
Cleopatra
Desdemona
Cordelia and her bitchy sisters
Plus a bunch more.
I wonder what Lady MacBeth's first name is. Betty would be cool. Betty MacBeth. As in: "Oh Betty? I can't seem to get this spot off my shirt."

The mind reels.

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