Connect the Dots | "Romantic or Tragic"
I realised as soon as I had the idea that the symbol of handcuffs is inherently restricting. The idea itself developed gradually, partly through my own experience (I’ve never been married…) but mostly through what was happening around me. Friends going through relationship crisis, identity crisis, a general malaise that seems to be covering everyone I talk to. Almost a level of inherent distrust and jadedness which pervades everyone’s mind regarding relations to other people.
I’ve heard it many times now that romantic attachment is restricting, it turns into its’ very opposite in no time, perhaps in these times even 10 times faster than it did historically. Every voice that echoes this sentiment is either followed by an aftertaste of bitterness or bruised experiences. A sense of broken hopes and dreams, perhaps a taste of harsh reality.
But the opposing voices are rooted in reality just as much. The sentiments are obviously completely different and the aftertaste is likely filled with a large pinch of the dopamine spice or an unshakeable belief in people, an eternal optimism.
The first group sees relationships (sometimes) as necessary evils. Connecting to people is a necessity, despite knowing what awaits is possible disappointment. The second group searches for the positives constantly, the light in the darkest tunnel and usually find them.
So love becomes a matter of perspective and at this point the illustration comes back into play. All these thoughts were wordlessly floating somewhere in the back of my head and accumulated into a clear vision of two hands intimately close, bonded by handcuffed rings.
Yet, the handcuffs are inherently restricting. Unless the chains are broken, they always represent a lack of freedom and movement. So maybe this was just a projection of my own jadedness, maybe I was a part of the first group and the image was a visualisation of that.
But I really wanted this to be exactly what you see in it. Not a vision of my own projections, but a sentiment that can go either way.
Finding an alternative symbol proved to be tricky. Either it was aesthetically unpleasing or thematically just as flawed as the handcuffs. Anything from ropes (tying the knot), stems, threads, chains, mystical energies, abstract knots…nothing seemed to fit as the ambivalent symbol which could be interpreted based on your own perception.
So why did I stick with the handcuffs?
To be absolutely honest, I stuck with the initial vision, which was strongly imbedded in my mind. Eventually I gave up the pursuit of an alternate symbol and left it to what I first saw in my minds’ eye. This very well could be a project I return to someday, if the idea brews in my unconscious for long enough and bubbles up with something better than this.
Maybe I have one excuse for the handcuffs. Well, it’s more of an explanation than an excuse, which can bring this image away from the first group of the eternal pessimists. It can be summed up in one phrase:
“Till death do us part.”