THE RORSCHACH TEST: Art/Experiment
Twelve individually hand-painted cards in the style of the famous Rorschach test, used to complete a different kind of psychological experiment.
Long being a sufferer of mental illness, I’ve always been intrigued by the Rorschach Test and its connotations. The test, while widely criticized and debated – not only for the original images’ widely known appearance online, in print and in popular media – is still an all-together fascinating phenomena. Will what I see be what you see? What does it say about you? What does it say about me? And how do we apply this information to our overall understanding of ourselves?
I painted several small images akin to Rorschach inkblots, using small pieces of canvas paper and ink. Using my own stylistic approach, I kept in mind a very particular idea, emotional experience, or scene when I painted – every ink blot and imagining of it different from the last. Some have deeper meanings for me, like a sad memory or important time in my life, others are light-hearted images and nothing else, a few are dark secrets. Each lays bare a piece of my jumbled mind.
But what do you see? And seeing what you do, what does that mean for my own psyche? Would you even tell me? How would I feel if I told you my secrets? I’d like to find out.
I propose a different kind of test. I’m going to sell the original cards at random to the first twelve people to request one – for $10 plus some shipping costs (this essentially covers the cost of the ink, time, canvas and packaging) – along with a sealed assessment of what the card means to me.
Enclosed with the sealed assessment will be an e-mail address that is entirely unique for this experiment.
You have choices. You can choose to keep my meaning a secret from yourself. Or you can open it. If you do open my proverbial Pandora’s Box, you will gain the e-mail address – you can then choose whether or not to e-mail me with your own interpretation of what the image meant or means to you.
Is the image on the card more or less meaningful to you? Did your analysis of my intentions of the image change? Is my meaning more or less important than yours?
This is an experiment in trust, among other things. I’m trusting you, whether or not you choose to know what I had in my mind while making the card. You can choose whether or not to trust me with your own views of the card. Or we can both simply be satisfied in the knowledge that our minds are uniquely odd, for better or worse.
At the end of the experiment, I’ll reveal the results publicly: How many shared their interpretations with me? And how many remained silent? What other variables will there be?
What it all means is up to interpretation.
***CARD PURCHASE SPECS (Click Here to Buy Into the Experiment):
1 Card Picked at Random Is: Acid-Free Textured Canvas Paper, Black India Ink, Some Variations With Added Red Ink, Comes With Sealed Message of Artist
****Note: This experiment isn’t meant to resemble the original Rorschach images, or the test in question and its many analysis and psychological features. It is an altogether different kind of test, it only relies on the basic imagery of Rorschach re-imagined and re-purposed.****
The Rorschach Experiments Meanings Vs. Meanings So Far
1st Round: 7 Responders, 5 Silent
1. First off, the packaging this came in? I felt special as all hell. Fancy.
So, at first, I saw the lungs and hips of a person. Kind of like an X-ray. But with these tests it always looks like x-rays to me. I don’t know why. Maybe I should ask my shrink why I can’t see anything but that? Maybe it’s a weird kind of color blindness… but without colors… and totally not the same thing.
I saw the two fetuses facing each other when I read your interpretation.I have often joked that to me, giving birth or having a baby grow inside of me, has always felt like that chestburster scene in Alien. It’s a being that is feeding off of you, growing out of you until it bursts forth and is this creature that you really have no control over. It has always frightened me. Almost like having a parasite. I am afraid of it. I think it’s one of the most frightening things to me. But when I actually think about it, I think it’s more the fact that I don’t think I would ever be able to have something that relies solely on ME for it’s well being. I don’t think I would be able to handle that on an emotional level. To me children represent the end of myself. Not in a horrible way, but in an identity-way. I would stop being JUST me. I would be a part of something else. And for better or worse, they would be a part of my identity for the rest of my life. Their life and it’s outcome is part of me. Maybe , like you, I have some ethical and moral objections to having a kid. Or it’s because I know my own family history, and my own problems, that I would NEVER want to pass that down to a kid, or potentially pass it on. And maybe it’s just pure selfishness that I would never want to risk losing myself. Either way, it’s my greatest fear. Besides robots.Thanks for sharing this. And sorry for the rant. I did take it serious though, so, thanks for sharing something personal with me.
I’ve been so excited and apprehensive to receive this experiment.
2. I received Birds.So first, my interpretation of the ink blot:On first seeing the card, I thought it was beautiful. I opened the card, which I wasn’t sure if I would or not, because I knew this was a happy meaning, a good memory. It just felt good. When turned with the red blots on top looked like two vultures facing each other. Turned with the black blots on top it seemed like two people looking at each other, each carrying a pack over their shoulders, lost in the moment of meeting each other again after being apart for so long, but also regretting the time spent apart. This was the first thing I saw, and it seemed to me like they were ready to drop their packs and embrace each other. It also reminds me of kabuki makeup styled like a butterfly.I’m also a huge fan of birds and the plumage displays of male birds. Yet for some reason after reading the meaning, even the image of the vultures became harder to see and the image of the two people with packs became even stronger. Courageous, bold, and exposed are words that could also be used to describe going out into the world, leaving all you know behind, bettering yourself. Then meeting up again with someone you once knew, maybe loved, leaves you even more exposed than you realized because no one is ever the same as you left them. You’re likewise excited and scared, and maybe they are too, but the moment that tension breaks and you can set down your burden of life you’ve lived and worries and expectations, you can just sweep them into a huge hug and for that moment everything is okay.It’s a piece I will be happy to put on display and look at fondly. :3 It is a gorgeous little piece.
3. Hello, Dear Lovely K,
Guess what came in the mail today?! Before I go on, let me just say that the way You did the packaging was impressive. With the black envelope, silver calligraphy, the inner folder and its title block, the tape and pouch, the whole experience and appearance heightened the Experimental Art aspect of this piece.
In the ink blot, I see a dog, perhaps still a puppy, a small breed, like a Lhasa Apso or Shih Tzu. The dog is sad, sitting, watching, waiting for someone, some Loved One.
Okay, now I am opening the envelope marked, My Meaning. “Mangled Features.” Wow. Your missing half sister. Watching for a Loved One, not known, the sadness. Wondering what she looks like. I’m getting spilkis!
Thank You for allowing me to participate in this project, and for sharing a piece of Your private life and thoughts, and the meanings. You are a special and generous Human Being.
4. Hi, K (and Stiffler too!):
I’m a Psychology student. I end up seeing these kinds of things now and then, though not as often as you might think! But when I look at projective tests, like inkblots or TAT images, I try and hold on to the very first things that flashed in my mind when I saw the image. When I opened your inkblot, my first associations were:
Sex/OvariesBean FlowersAnd decided I would open your meaning. I think it’s neat that our meanings were so similar. And it just so happens that on my desk where I opened your note, my volume of Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” guitar tablature was sitting nearby (and “The Wall” was my very first favourite rock album, true story!) so that coincidental similarity amused me too. 🙂I’m happy to have been a part of this. Thanks for the light-hearted piece of your life!
5. There’s been a sudden torrential downpour here in Dallas, but I randomly felt like checking the mail. I’m glad I did.As soon as I popped open the inner test packaging, the picture slipped out. I saw a face pretty much instantly, looking…disappointed, I guess? Pitying, maybe, just a general look somewhere between pain and reproach. To be honest, I didn’t really like how it made me feel.After I looked at it for a few seconds, though, it looked like two women, sitting back to back with their hands on their knees, as if they’d just had some huge argument.Both of my interpretations are pretty depressing.After going this far, not opening the smaller envelope felt somehow disingenous to me, so I’ll go ahead and open it.Anger, huh? I can see that. The blot to me at least seemed like some kind of frustration, so I guess I was a little close.That’s all I can think of to say right now.
6. K,Please find here a copy of my results in regards to the test. The transcript will be below, and I will attach a copy of my original handwritten notes to this email.Thank you for the opportunity to take part in this experiment.Current State: ill, with back pain aggravating
Test Begun at 15:00
Personal Observations – (Prior to Letter Opening)
My initial observation was a resemblance to lungs. Black with smoke, perhaps? The resemblance in my mind probably comes from simplistic depictions of the lungs with 2 symmetrical lungs connected by the bronchii and unified at the windpipe. Many connected breath with the soul, and so my mind connects that with my earlier thought of blackened lungs. Blackened lungs, blackened soul?
When flipped, the image changes. Now, it appears more to be 2 figures with joined hands.
With perspective changed, (now focusing on the white), and the image back in its original configuration, a quite different image appears. Now, a bottle being emptied of its final drop appears. The glass into which it is being emptied is quite ornate, with a non-standard rim.
Still focusing on the white, but with the piece flipped once more, what comes to mind is two rivers joining into one damned reservoir.
My Observations – Post-letter
K’s letter changed my state of mind. Previously in a fairly neutral state, it is fairly depressed. Any writings past this point should be read keeping that in mind, for what I would have written neutrally would have probably been quite different.
It would be safe to say that if one was to take my initial observations and interpret them as attempts to predict K’s meaning for the piece, I would have been quite off the mark. I would have also felt awful for the soul portion of the commentary. Thankfully that was not the case.
If I may, I will provide the connections I make/made when reading K’s meaning of / for the piece.
Firstly, breathing. Lungs for me are not something I think of as always working. I have had 3 experiences in the last 2 years of severe anaphylaxis, where breathing was impossible for some time. Lungs for me are fickle, working one moment, but maybe not for the next. The feeling of not being able to breathe is terrifying, and places stress upon every part of the body. My legs hurt, my lungs hurt, my head hurt, and my world struggled to remain coherent.
Grandmothers for me are of the highest import. I have been fortunate enough to have both of my grandmothers still alive. My maternal grandmother is 87, and my paternal grandmother is 97. (Still living on her own and baking from scratch)
They both bring me great happiness, and great sorrow when I hear that they are unwell. I can not yet imagine how it would feel to lose on. K, you have my deepest condolences.
Sadness, in my opinion, is a highly individualized state ad process; as such I will not go into detail about it here.
K, I wish you well in both this project and your future endeavours.
7. I saw lovers, facing hard times, but choosing to go at it together instead of letting it shove them apart.