the significance of teeth in your everyday life
TEETH is a project in Visual Anthropology, made for my final project at University. It is an exploration into the role and significance of teeth from a cultural perspective, as told through the words of my friends and family.
This website is a way to continue the process of exploration that I begin in the film, including descriptions of the filming process, and personal accounts from some of those involved along the way.
the concept behind the film
I came up with the concept for TEETH in the winter of 2019, following a discussion with a friend. This was concerning her decision to begin the expensive process of Invisalign in order to make herself "more attractive to employers." Following this conversation I realised the significance of teeth in her mind and that of her potential employer, and queried the depth of this concern.
In the past I have had discussions about the significance of hair and clothing on one's identity, things which can be changed as often as every day. But teeth are much harder to alter - and possibly just as significant. With research I began to notice that the social role of teeth is cross-cultural, with different levels of significance in different societies.
Through discussions with friends and family, I began to discover more insights about teeth - for example, the fact that many of my friends had insecurities about their teeth that they never spoke about. I soon realised that the societal role of teeth is much greater than I thought, and this would make an interesting subject for a project in Visual Anthropology.
some anonymous quotes volunteered by participants in the film
"I'm a bit indifferent about my own teeth, they're not bad, but not great either. Sometimes I wish they more symmetrical, but whats the point wishing for perfection when it's unobtainable?"
"I think teeth certainly are an element and standard of Western attraction levels as they really can make or break a person's facial features. Also if you look at Hollywood productions everyone's teeth are really perfect and white, for Example in Breaking Bad: Jesse Pinkman has extremely good teeth which are really white but he's a meth and cigarette addict!"
"In some ways I’m grateful for my dental imperfections as this contributes to my speaking (and more importantly) my singing voice which is something unique to me that I am comfortable with keeping as natural as possible."
My symbolic camera was made of a cardboard box, which I painted an opaque black. While waiting for this to dry, I painted a small piece of card blue with silver clouds. This was to be the screen, symbolic of the images I prefer to take when experimenting with photography. This is because I enjoy capturing images of events which are temporary and unlikely to occur in the same pattern - for example, clouds. This took the most time out of the entire process. I found this ironic because images captured on cameras are usually instant, with the thought process being the longest part, whereas in this case it was the other way around. Finally I glued this to the box, along with a 'viewfinder' and 'flash' made in two colours, mimicking that of a Polaroid camera. I attached a piece of card cut from a happy meal box to create the circular lens shape, and left everything to dry.
I enjoyed taking part in this exercise as it reminded me what a camera means to me, and also to remember that they are delicate and must be handled carefully, much like my handmade symbolic camera. It was interesting to see everyone else's approaches to the task and learn who was likeminded to me in both their concept of a camera and their creative process.