Overall, the piece came across as visceral and upsetting. The following fluids, gurgling noises, and vile colors were noted as having a disgusting effect, triggering a primal repulsive urge. The air pump also produced a churning noise which bothered almost everyone in the room, both for its noise and its interval. The inflating and deflating oxygen bags registered as breath, reminiscent of the slight rising and falling of a breathing chest. The choice of materials made a clear reference to modern medicine, both in the way they were used and recognized. As well, the chaos of the material created a complexity that felt confusing to many classmates.
The piece also had unfulfilled aspects. Some classmates felt that, while the piece was disturbing, it could be to easily ignored. This could be changed by integrating the piece further into the setting, making it more difficult to avoid—for instance, a web of oxygen tubes and electrical chords that would need to be maneuvered around in order to navigate the gallery. And while the piece had a great aspect of anonymity, classmates were curious as to the "person's" personality, at least before the medical happening. Adding nostalgic items could help inform the viewer of this past personality and remind the audience that extreme medical happening also destroy parts of personality. It could help humanize the piece. I have a "Chicken Soup for the Women's Soul" book that would fit perfectly. It's pages are even dogeared as to indicate what stories have and haven't been read. I also have a wheel chair seat cushion that should've been added to the piece. It would express concern for the "person's"
comfort. As well, the piece was a bit one-note like in the way that it was an idiom made literal.
While listening to the critiques, I couldn't help but notice that no one plugged the "person" back in. The class acted as if it would be a crime to the metaphor, that you could not resurrect the dead. But in reality, the piece was never alive. It's a Rube-Goldberg-esc contraption of medical supplies and motors that pump air and push fluids. Maybe pumping air and pushing fluids is a watered down description of our bodies, at least in a utilitarian sense. As un-alive as this piece was, it was fundamentally alive. This paradox would explain the slight hesitation I noticed in peoples speech when trying to refer to the object in the wheelchair. The class was torn on whether to call the object a thing or a person. This could be more indicative of a lacking in the English language, but regardless of the explication, the class felt for this thing like something in the uncanny valley.
The most heartfelt reading was that the piece was "hard to look at." It describes my feelings toward my mom as she became debilitatingly sick, and it also describes an overwhelming attitude the general population has towards the sick. Like a mole or wart, no one wants to look at sickness. No one wants to understand the atrocity it creates. No one wants to have their empathic pathways overrun with pain. It's just too much and often causes people to look away, making it "hard to look at."