My inner thrift - Why Coupland's "The Brain" spoke to me

I didn't have much time to research this, but most of my brain tells me not to anyway. Context is very important, but I don't like my interpretations to be muddled too much unless of course I am working with someone else. Since it's all up to me, I just wanted to enjoy what I saw. And I saw Douglas Coupland's "The Brain".

My inner thrift - Why Coupland's "The Brain" spoke to me - image 1 - student project

(taken from

What type of art is it?

At first glance, I thought simply,  of course it's object-based. But after a few seconds, it did appear more to be experience-based. Although you really can't reach for the middle, you do see something that catches your attention, fostering some sort of connection to one of the many interests you might have. I know my inner thrift experienced such excitement when I saw it. It reminded me of the very few fairs and small markets I've been to. Even if I didn't buy anything, I always took something home with me. I didn't steal anything, okay? 

In a sense it could also be time-based, but with a very obscure non-linear timeline. But I don't wanna go there. I'll perhaps just let the experience take me to whatever time it sends me to.

What did you discover about the work using formal analysis? What more did you find out using contextual analysis?

The Brain is very much a composed chaos to me. Coupland has this collection of items bought or found in thriftstores, markets, online shopping sites like Ebay, etc. It looks almost like a large table at that one booth in the market that seems to have everything you have none of. The organization seems coincidental similar to his intentions when he was collecting these items. Every thing is something, and some things connect to other things. Each item could stand alone to be abstract, and really the whole work seems to be abstract, but he intended it to be representational. And I do think the same, judging from the title alone.

All the pieces have different origins, much like our experiences come from different events and different people. There was no theme followed, much like how every day is a different day inside our heads - something is always changing. I really believe there wasn't anything specific to the piece, but I found that extremely comforting. That this great artist seems to have such a messy mind like mine. That this artist has so many fascinations that could align with mine. That his process, although driven by chance, is something that I could also relate to. That really, anyone from anywhere could relate to.

Which guiding questions were most helpful?

I think the most helpful inquiry to make when looking at art is questioning the artist's process - for me at least. Because it really pushes you to think about the artist's intention. Makes you look at how the artist communicates. It really puts forward the amount of creativity that was used. Also, as an aspiring artist, it gives me ideas on how I might execute a project I have in mind. How I can connect the dots between different styles, different meanings, different perspectives. Processes are just those little peeks into someone's brain.

Janicah Abrinica
Aspiring Illustrator & Graphic Desisgner