Since talking to Kim about my research question, which is:
If “storytelling is fundamental to the way in which humans make sense of their lives and their activities” (Edgar, 2012), then how can a narrative be constructed when chronic illness has removed its coherent framework?
I have had a few ideas about narrative and how to tell these stories that relate to my experience with chronic illness. In discussion with Kim, I gave an example of getting ready in the morning. I explained that I have to set alarms two hour before I have to get up, but I’ve learn that’s how long on average it takes for me to get out of bed. This is because the combination of pain and fatigue make it difficult to move first thing, so I have to warm myself up before moving and standing up. This narrative is specific but not exclusive to chronic illness, or my experience of it, so thinking about how to visualise this story.
I have been playing around with animation, so I have mapped out a quick idea I had for an animation to illustrate this story. This illness is organic and because it manifests itself within the nervous system it does not come up on medical tests. I have been inspired by nature, particularly cells, plants and vines and feel that their growth and how they wrap themselves around objects is a great metaphor for how fatigue and sometimes pain take control of oneself.
My idea is to illustrate the process of getting up in the morning. Over night, the vines (fibromyalgia symptoms) move in and wrap themselves around the limbs and body, intertwining. When the figures wakes in the morning, there is no movement allowed, for the vines have completely limited this. Slowly, over hours of fidgeting and attempting to unwrap oneself from the vines, the figure is then able to get up, but exhausted from having to fight against the vines.
This is an idea, I guess that has been in my head for a while. I wrote a while back in my sketchbook about the film Spiderman 3, which has the character Venom in it. It’s an alien life form that’s black and sticky and get everywhere, but takes over the spiderman suit and he takes on a different persona. It’s not a great film, but this is the kind of metaphor I feel is suitable for the experience of living with fibromyalgia.
This is another idea I had for movement in general. It’s kind of like wading through mud instead of just walking like a normal person. Each step has a lot of effort put into it, which is why I get tired easily. This gooey substance is like venom in Spiderman, like a thick tar. It weighs you down.
I have a metaphor that I can play around with, but now need to address this through narrative. I want to explore animation more, but also would like to start to draw or photograph examples of vines and goo and how they form around different objects, to keep it grounded and accessible in that it is relatable.
I did this sketch relatively quickly, in about 3 minutes without any pencil sketches, just straight in with ink. This not only demonstrates that I am getting more confident in my sketching, but also that I am starting to be more comfortable in using illustration as a language to describe what others may not be able to quantify.
So, from here, I want to:
- Draw or photograph from vines, plants, goo and how they interact with objects
- Play around with thumb nailing short narratives
- Record, whether through words, vlogs, illustrations short narratives from day to day