Trich is a response to the interplay of practice and habit associated with repetitive behavior. Repetition can be rewarding; when an action is performed over and over again, it can build complex systems, it can create order, and it can reinforce skill. In many ways, repetition is the foundation of artistic practice. Practice constitutes controlled engagement and a deepening of understanding; however, the fraternal twin of practice, habit, is rooted in denial and helpless compulsion. While working with fibers, I became very interested in one specific impulse control disorder, Trichotillomania, the compulsive urge to pull out one’s hair. Not only are the individuals who suffer from this condition, focusing on microscopic units of their body, they also profess feeling heightened focus and intense pleasure when they pull. This is the same language that I often use to describe my psychological state when I am in the throws of my creative work.
To investigate the overlaps between this behavioral condition and my own artistic practice, I created Trich, a 3D animation of hair being pulled from the scalp. The animation is stylized to resemble medical visualizations of magnified human hair. The animation alternates between images of hair rustling as unseen fingernails scratch the scalp and a pore closing in on itself after a hair has been ripped out. The ripping action is not shown directly until the final scene. An amplified audio recording of the actual pulling process accompanies the animation, which is displayed on the LCD screen of a microscope. The image and sound play again and again, generating subtle unease within a dimly lit, strangely intimate corridor space.