2009. január 22., csütörtök

Interim Appraisal

My work this semester has been a continuation of themes I explored with Laura Elliott in our Word & Image collaboration; as such I have chosen to carry on using our blog to document my work. At the core of the work was an exploration of subjectivity within readings and notions of defamiliarisation. The medium of photography was chosen as a natural progression from the exploration of the potential of the frame in our work last year. My work is concerned with the ways in which photography can be used as a realist tool and, paradoxically, the framing of the photograph, which is itself unnatural as it does not accurately represent the way we physically see the world. By framing in this sense I mean composition; the notion of the frame as a physical object and the implications of this are to be a concern later in the development of my work.

Early on in the collaboration we were influenced by a quote from Charles Sanders Pierce in which he refers to a reading as being dependant on the ‘cooperation of three subjects, such as a sign, its object, and its interpretant, this tri-relative influence not being in any way resolvable into actions between pairs.’ I have taken this idea forward this semester by looking at ways of creating images where this cooperation is present in such a flat way that it invites what Barthes refers to as myth. For example, this image (right) is, on a basic level, a house with no roof, a bush and a steel barrier. This overtly literal aspect in the work creates space for a totally personal and subjective reading; when we remove something from its context, when we frame it we are inclined to seek myth within it. The reading then is dependant on a variety of social, political and personal backgrounds. As I have stated in the development of my work, some photographers have used similar images to make comments on a variety of subjects (modernity, the social effect of urban redevelopment).

Roland Barthes writes that modern poetry resists myth. I believe poetry, if anything, invites myth because it is a form. I outlined some ambitious ideas to link my poetry and visual work in my learning agreement which I abandoned early on as they felt restricting. I have however maintained a dialogue between my poetry and my visual practice. This has been through the method of composition I have applied to my photography, which indeed is a combination of aspects which Barthes outlines in Camera Lucida and poetic methods. In a recent workshop with George Szirtes he put forward the notion that a good deal of poems are comprised of three parts, which can be likened to Barthe’s idea of an image’s studium quality. Firstly there is a location, secondly there is something inhabiting it which creates a dialogue and thirdly there is an absence as a result of this conjuncture. This is the basis on which I have been creating my images.

As a further continuation of my previous work I chose the urban environment as my subject, with the intention of presenting the familiar in a peculiar way. The aforementioned paradox of photography has enabled me to do this, as the viewer is forced to look at something familiar in an unnatural way. The frame/composition aspect of photography also highlights the geometric aspects of the urban environment which we may not notice on a day to day basis as the human eye has a two-hundred degree viewing angle in stark contrast to the nature of the photograph. This is also complimented by the tonality of the images. I have said that I am interested in realism, but I am also interested in slightly undermining it to create something true, but strange. The colour and tonal quality in my images do not fairly represent what the eye sees, but rather what the romantic or nostalgic mind sees when one stops to pay attention to these every day scenes. This renders the images as more of a document of memory than actual physicality.

For my work to go forward in the coming semester it needs to be taken out of its current digital proxy-state and become something physical. I have already mentioned my interest in light boxes to compliment the slick, glossy aspect present in many of the images. This is not to say I should not, or will not experiment with other methods of presentation. I recently attended an exhibition of one of my peers at NUCA which involved the projection of images which is a medium I had been considering. I feel the projection of images keeps the image in this proxy state; it still has the feeling of being a duplicate rather than an object in its own right. This is why the light box has interested me; it has the potential for the image and the box to be one and the same. For this to work it requires careful attention to the scale of the object and the printing materials used as these are elements which will undoubtedly effect a reading. This, of course can only occur through considered experimentation and development.

Last year this notion was tied in with an anti-gallery space ethos, however I wish to later contrast this by looking at the potential of presentation of work in internal spaces. I maintain my opposition to bleached, open, portentous spaces and so will be looking for a location in which to display my work which will impact on the reading of it. Derrida’s idea that a frame denotes that what is inside it is different to what is outside it will be a playground in which I can play with the meaning of the piece simply by what context I put it in. As well as looking at various internal spaces, I wish to look at various external spaces to decide where my work is best placed. This could include presenting some of the images in the locations they were taken or where other images were taken. It would also be useful for the development of my work to exhibit my work prior to my final assessment to see how people engage with the work.

To summarise my current situation; I have created a set of digital images which serve to give a reader a few scraps of information which invite the creation of a narrative. In order for my work to progress I must explore the implications of turning these images into physical objects and the potential of this.

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