Universal Symbols

On the cover: Gestures In My Dreams

The night before publication, I fell asleep sitting upright in bed, couch cushion behind my back, hoping to conquer the month-long sinus discomfort that loves to visit this time of year. The pressure I was feeling in my forehead was accompanied by a mental pressure; I had 24 hours to create the cover art for this issue. I bounced ideas around my foggy head in what seemed like a slow-motion game of pong, until eventually I fell asleep.

The idea for this cover came to me in a dream.

The dream began with my best friend, Rocco, telling me that I am not a painter, designer, or writer, but solely a photographer. His statement wasn’t cruel—it was honest, and that was even more frightening to me. I’ve avoided loyalty to a single medium as long as I can remember, and the feeling of being rejected by a friend was more than I could bear. I left the room and went to my studio space, attempting to prove him wrong; I painted, drew, and wrote every possible shape and color, until every surface from floor to ceiling was covered with art. But when I finally looked at what I had done, there was no ink, no paint, no sketches; instead, everything I had done appeared as a photographic image. In disbelief, I picked up a brush, dipped it into the paint, and made another brush stroke. But the paint on the brush didn’t appear on the wall. Instead, it erased the canvas, revealing an underlying photograph.

I accepted that my friend was right. I put the brushes away, the pen and pencils too. I picked up my camera, turned on the strobes, and stood face to face with a purple wall. As the shutter opened, my mind projected my hands, making a gestural shape, on the wall in front of me. As the shutter closed, the gestures disappeared. Snapping away with what seemed to be my own mind, I captured hundreds of different gestures, somehow able to manifest my thoughts into the physical world (an ability which may or may not have been influenced by a recently watched episode of The X-Files).

When I woke up, I knew what I would do. I call this series of photographs Gestures In My Dreams. A few caveats: In my dream, it was my own hand that I saw projected onto the purple wall; however, I used a model’s hand in these photographs, for logistical purposes. Additionally, symbols are only useful insofar as they are universally relatable; without a connection to the audience, these gestures have little purpose. That’s why I changed the skin tone to a fantastical hue, removing the identity from the human behind the photos and allowing the audience to focus solely on these universal gestures and their meanings.

I want Gestures to stand as a symbol in and of itself—a symbol of symbols, their role in our communication, and how we consciously and subconsciously process the world in which we live.