Tim Walker

I was just looking over my first tutor report (I have a different tutor now) as I will re-shoot a couple of the images and I found a suggestion from her and that was to look at the work of Tim Walker in order to see someone with some flair and creativity.

I was not terribly interested in his recent work which is a series of surreal tableaux images.  Some of them were quite harsh and surreal whereas some (the 1st image with Emma Watson) were more soft and enchanting.

I was more interested in his portraits.  he photographed a large amount of celebrities and I felt they were superb and captured something about each of their real or projected personalities.  My first favorite is one of Tilda Swinton:

I love the use of pale pink and black, as well as the angular jacket partially covering her pale face.  Stunning.

And my other favorite was of David Attenborough.

I think he really captured the man as I know him from his nature programs: understated, kind, gentle, present.

source: https://www.timwalkerphotography.com

 

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Exercise: Image and Text

trump-goons

Possible titles:

Grandfather Looks Lovingly On

LGBTQ  Conference Welcomes Civil Rights Champion

Trump Goons Gloat at Win

I remember the first time I started to think about image and text.  I was at an IB conference in my twenties and there was an image presented to us of a young African girl, looking not happy or sad, and covered in a scarf.  When asked what we thought this was a picture of, there were various ideas ranging from refugee camp, children of famine, etc.  I recall that the responses were all based on the assumption that the girl was poor and in a difficult circumstance.  One woman, said that it just reminded me of her daughter playing dress up on a sunny afternoon.

She happened to be African American and it was then that I started to really understand the power of images, our perceptions, and media messages.  Had this text had a caption that told us what was happening–or an anchoring text– (it was just a girl in dress up clothes) maybe our own biases wouldn’t have come out.  It was a powerful moment for me.

But the use of anchor can also be misleading if we aren’t careful.  One just has to think of the Brexit campaign or the Trump campaign to understand this.  I also think of the invasion of Iraq in 2001 when so commonly on news channels reports of war, terrorism, etc., had the reporter with a mosque in the background. Whether this was intentional or not, many American started then to associate a mosque with terrorism.  It was a scary thing to watch unfold (I was in Turkey when they invaded Iraq the 2nd time).

Relayed messaged I feel dying to some extent.  In this era of post-truth, it seems the masses of people want to be told what to think.  They don’t want to have to think about things or notice nuance in things. It is too difficult. I also think it is a dying form of of communication because people have also become inept at using critical thinking skills, therefore anchoring works better as a form of communication because not only are we in post-truth, we are in an anti-intellectual era where people who care about things or think about things at a deeper level are mocked, ridiculed, called ‘liberals’ as if it were a bad word, etc.  What we see now are world leaders who want to do and say what they want and have people follow them without any critical thinking.  So I would say what we see the most out there in the media nowadays is anchorage.  Relay is for those crazy liberals who still care about truth and critical thinking.

 

Exercise–Photographing the unknown

I think this is an interesting concept and one I would like to do for assignment 2 but I can’t make it appear in the foreground of my mind just yet.

Of the three works we were meant to look at via the coursework, the South African in China resonated with me the most.  I felt his sense of feeling alone and always a stranger in a big, crowded, busy city.  I feel the same way about Istanbul but not only the way the city looks, but the cultural differences I feel acutely all of the time.  I think it would be a great project to photograph this, but I am not sure how I would do it.

The other project on childhood nostalgia I was also interested in, though if I were to do it, I would try and photograph how the traumas of childhood are carried into the present, even when you are a lifetime, a continent and an ocean away from them.  They still exist and color everyday life.

As for the second bullet point, I am OK with giving authorial control.  As a result of the aforementioned subject, I need to give up control otherwise it controls me so when it comes to my photography, I try not to control what the viewer perceives.  I feel that art should be able to take on the form it becomes in the eye of the beholder, so this applies to my own work as well. In fact, in can be quite interesting to listen to what other people think of the work because usually I do have something in mind and if what I set out to say comes through in the images and the receiver gets that, then I think I have conveyed what I wanted.  But if the receiver sees something different than sometimes it is a message that I need to re-think my concept or approach.

Exercise–Photographing a Poem

I chose to photograph the very short poem “I Go Down to the Shore” by Mary Oliver.  She is one of my favorite poets and I have been reading her poetry for years now.  A survivor of childhood sexual abuse, Oliver uses nature as a way to move through and explain life.

This particular poem I think fits well with the current times. With Brexit and Trump and other less progressive movements making their way into the foreground, I felt this poem was appropriate because a good number of us feel scared, worried, and vulnerable and when we turn to nature we find solace in that she doesn’t care and keeps moving on, which to me is a metaphor for getting through tough times.

I chose to do two photographs.  The first one I am feeling vulnerable and exposed the second one I am embracing nature in its indifference to me.

Here is the poem:

I go down to the shore in the morning
and depending on the hour the waves
are rolling in or moving out,
and I say, oh, I am miserable,
what shall—
what should I do? And the sea says
in its lovely voice:
Excuse me, I have work to do.”

Mary Oliver, A Thousand Mornings

My images:

1 in 8 million

The New York Times did a really engaging project where they photographed the lives of a variety of New Yorkers and then in slide show fashion added their story being told in their words.  I thought this was a really interesting way to convey the lives of different New Yorkers. The addition of the narrative gave the work a personal quality that I though really added the human element to the photos.

I also thought that I might want to do a project like this for one of my assignments so I will need to figure out how they did this (technically speaking) and figure out which assignment it would best for.

I am also interested in Duane Michals work where he uses hand written text to give more insight.  I did this once as a way to keep a journal of the things that the boys say, so I may re-visit this idea as I really enjoyed it and it seems to fit in with the context and narrative approach in this class.

Here is the link for my own future reference:

http://www.nytimes.com/packages/html/nyregion/1-in-8-million/#/henrique_prince

 

Sophie Calle and Sophy Rickett–Post Modern Art

I think it is probably best to start with a definition of Postmodernism before commenting on the works of these two artists. The one below I found to be quite accessible. Mary Klages, from Colorado University describes it saying:

‘Postmodernism, like modernism, follows most of these same ideas, rejecting boundaries between high and low forms of art, rejecting rigid genre distinctions, emphasizing pastiche, parody, bricolage, irony, and playfulness. Postmodern art (and thought) favors reflexivity and self-consciousness, fragmentation and discontinuity (especially in narrative structures), ambiguity, simultaneity, and an emphasis on the destructured, decentered, dehumanized subject.

Postmodernism…doesn’t lament the idea of fragmentation, provisionality, or incoherence, but rather celebrates that. The world is meaningless? Let’s not pretend that art can make meaning then, let’s just play with nonsense.’

Rickett’s work most definitely fits into this category.  I have to admit that I am a little unsure of what artistic element she added to this work, I see her more as the curator of the work done by Dr. Willstrop. But when looking at the definition of Postmodern art, then I guess what she has done can identify her as the artist, but I think it should have two names on it as opposed to just hers. I feel in some way that she ‘took’ his work and by weaving a story around it and linking it to her own–though self-admittedly- unrelated experience and then putting it up in a gallery with the new narrative.

The work she has put forth here depends heavily on the story that goes with it, which is the Postmodern element.  The images themselves are quite interesting but it is her story that makes it come alive.  It still doesn’t sit well with me for some reason.  I am not sure why.  It is kind of like last night, to compare it in very simple terms–whilst carving pumpkins at our community center and my husband used a drill (the pumpkins in Turkey are lose-your-finger tough) and one of the kids said ‘that is cheating.’ It isn’t really, if you re-define the ‘art’ of pumpkin carving.

The other work we were asked to look at is by Sophie Calle and is titled Take Care of Yourself. This work, while I don’t think was as aesthetically pleasing as the other, is a work all generated from the artist’s own experience.  To me that means something, though I am not quite sure why. Essentially she took this break up letter and morphed it into a variety of deconstructions that took the form of crossword puzzled, text deconstructions, song, etc.  It seems to really understand the work one has to really work at it and get the story and thinking behind it all to fully ‘get’ what she is trying to do, which as I had concluded before, is a trait of Postmodern art.

References:

Klages, Mary Postmodernism. [online] At: http: http://www.bdavetian.com/Postmodernism.html (Accessed on 1 November 2016)

 

The Dad Project by Bryony Campbell

We were asked to look at the Country Doctor as well as The Dad Project and discuss the differences.

I think the differences are quite stark.  For one, the Country Doctor is more what I would call documentary.  It had a sense of the person behind the lens simply being an observer thus there was not an intimate feel.  We felt as observers as if we were looking into the life of this doctor as he went about his life and work, yet we didn’t get a sense of the emotions he felt or the relationships he had.  The images were very utilitarian. This was created mostly by shots that were usually at a certain distance from the subjects and was usually of him working on patients, with little no eye contact with the camera. The shots were mostly long or mid shots with the occasional closeup but these close up shots were more to show detail as opposed to emotion or intimacy.

Campbell’s work was highly personal and very emotional.  As a viewer, we feel as if we got to know her and her father a little better.  We also felt that we had a glimpse into their relationship as well as the grief she was feeling as she was losing her dad.  It was an emotionally charged work.  She achieved this by including shots of herself in relation to her dad. Also, a number of the images, the subject is looking at the camera, so the viewer feels as if they are in a way a part of the emotional relationship. She also had more abstract photos like just his had on the white sheet with a small glimpse of the catheter tube.  These close ups showed quite intimate scenes, which again made the viewer feel more a part of the scene.

I think when she says it was ‘an ending without an ending’ because for one, her dad’s death wasn’t the ending for her, it was in a way a new beginning because she had to move on, as her dad would have wanted but also because in a way, he lived on in these photos. While she did photograph him after death, the images of him looking very much alive and also the way she captured their relationship now live on in these photos, so in a way, there is no ending to it.