Self-reflection is the act of meditation or serious thought about one’s character, actions, and motives. When thinking of self-reflection my mind goes to the act of journaling, speaking to a therapist, or going for a walk. Watching artist Damon Pham’s piece, “Promise Burden Prompt Origin Defense Palette Call,” a new perspective on the definition of self-reflection occurred to me. After my first experience, I was intrigued and inspired by his vulnerability through the use of digital art but I didn’t immediately understand the impact. Honestly, before the hands reached press play, I thought thirty minutes was too long to pay attention to an artwork. As this is a testament to the short-circuited minds we’ve been raised on or, on a more individual level, the lack of patience I have for others and even myself. In rebuttal to my thoughts before watching it through, the piece suspended a slow passage of time. This piece could’ve been hours and I don’t believe I would’ve noticed. Allocating my time to Pham’s work, highlighted the way in which we view time as well as self-reflection. This generation doesn’t believe time should be given to the act of self, leading to feelings of guilt. Thirty minutes given to studying seems like way too short of time, but if I were to sit with my thoughts and self for this period of time, I would deem it unworthy.
Through this piece, I was drawn to it because of the poetic nature that takes place amidst a very deep reflection of Pham’s personal feelings and emotions. With the chaos in his words, the video reflects the opposite. This gave me a sense of peace in understanding myself and my feelings and how maybe they’re not as chaotic as I believe them to be inside of my head. It reminded me of cooking. When the ingredients are all spread out on the table they seem like a lot, and usually, I end up thinking “What am I doing, I could’ve just ordered takeout.” Takeout is easy, but cooking is hard and requires time to produce a solution. In the end, the meal comes out in one piece, usually, and tastes better and looks better than takeout. This is the way I view self-reflection and this piece by Pham. It’s easy to hide behind screens, especially in 2023, where everything one needs to know can be reached with a click. Displaying a sense of vulnerability through a screen, therefore, becomes so much harder. Pham took his “ingredients” or thoughts and went through the hard digital process to produce a video where emotion is conveyed through a screen. The perfect home-cooked meal. This inspired me to reflect upon myself, in a physical and digital manner as well. I discovered how my emotions and connection to the real world are shifted due to the barrier that is social media and technology. The ability to share all feelings at the touch of a button gives the illusion that sharing emotions should be easier. In reality, I have found myself playing a fictional character in the media that reflects what I want to be, not what I am. When sharing struggles, the media filters out the “ugly” and puts on a face of struggle, but accepted struggle. I have realized nobody wants to hear when you’re currently struggling because it scares them, but past issues are always accepted. This brings up the debate of “If it is easier to communicate now that we have media?” If I were to answer this question now, I would say no. With that being said, Pham’s piece allowed me to question my prior answer. While being on media, he simultaneously was able to display a real array of current emotions and struggles in a way that is enhanced by media, not changed by it. This inspired me to change my way of displaying myself on social media and through technology and to take a more current and raw approach as he did.
Depicting the digital process that went into this video also strikes a cord inside me. Working with mediums like this in the technology world is not easy, especially when it’s a video of this length. This difficulty level added an additional sense of emotion to me because the process was so in-depth and personal. Overall I am inspired and was inspired by the way Pham displayed emotion through the digital art he produced. The way depth can shine from a place of feeling in the world of technology was impressive and sparked a sense of self-reflection in myself.
Check out Damon Pham’s piece, Promise Burden Prompt Origin Defense Palette Call in issue 21 of Digital America.
Peyton Galli is a Sophomore at the University of Richmond and is majoring in Visual and Media Arts, with a minor in Entrepreneurship. Her passions include travel, design, photography, and all outdoor activities. She plays soccer for the University as well and in her free time, she loves to work out and spend time with friends.