A5 Research–Astrid Kruse Jensen

Jensen created a series of photographs titled ‘Allusions of Home’ which caught my eye (as did her other work).  In this series she photographs women in what I assume to be their bedrooms.  It is in fact a very simple looking project, as the women are all just sitting there and it appears that she uses whatever light is available so it varies from image to image.  But there is something to the work that drew me in.  Possibly it is the intimacy of the bedroom that drew me in combined with the sullen look on the women’s faces.  One wonders what their lives are like and tries to extrapolate what they are like from their surroundings.

I wasn’t sure about the title.  It in fact leads to an analysis that these women are actually not at home and she has photographed them in place where they have set up personal belongings and it is likely they won’t be there for long.  Either interpretation is interesting and both lead the viewer to surmise who these women are and why they are there.

Jensen said in an interview with Foam Magazine that ‘representation of the real is photography’s burden.’ (Foam 2007).  She also said that she tries to construct real looking images that are as close to a real space as possible. Applying this to her work, it could be assessed that she has constructed the images to look real, but aren’t really of the women’s sleeping space.  It would seem if it were their own spaces there would have been a write-up about it as the stories there would have been an interesting focus.  The ambiguity makes the work quite interesting as the viewer has things to ponder over.

I have already taken a shot of me in my bedroom, but I wonder if it is too literal as has been tutor and peer feedback for other work.  So I will try a shot similar to these and see what happens.

Sources:

http://www.astridkrusejensen.com/

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Assignment 5 Research–Paintings

After watching the documentary on Gregory Crewdson where he talks about being influenced by Edward Hopper paintings, I decided to take a look at some of his work and see if I could find inspiration there.

Hopper’s work is deeply entrenched in what Crewdson called “The American Vernacular” so it isn’t imagery I am after with his work, it is more the use of light and the way people are positioned in the paintings.

Two works in particular stood out to me.  One is titled ‘Morning Sun’ and the other is ‘The Woman in the Sun.’ While I don’t plan to re-create these images, I like the melancholy nature of both of them as this is what I am going to try and capture in my project “Postcards Home.”  In my attempt to re-shoot assignment 3, my tutor gave some feedback that has made me think about how I will convey my message, and that was that the image shouldn’t ‘shut down’ the meaning, i.e., if it tells it directly, it isn’t as interesting a photo.  So I have been thinking about this for A5 and I think starting with Hopper’s work is a good place to start because they depict everyday life yet they have a certain ambiguity that makes them interesting and timeless.

The other work I looked at is Vermeer.  His use of side lighting has always been a favorite of mine, so in one of the images I have already taken there is side lighting coming in and it hits my face.  I am not sure if I will include this image though.

The other idea  I have is an Orientalist painting titled ‘Enjoying Coffee’ by the French School from the first half of the 18th century.  It is actually on display here in Turkey at The Pera Museum and it is a beautiful Orientalist painting.  I was thinking I could use it as inspiration and copy the delicate hand gesture of the woman as she drinks coffee and instead of a servant, have one of my sons doing something.  I am not sure how I will create this but I have some ideas and will give it a go this weekend.

A5 Research–Elina Brotherus

Elsewhere in the course we were guided to look at the work on Elina Brotherus and in doing so I was moved by her photographs.

My idea for A5 is ‘post-cards home.’  Since I live in a place that is considered exotic to many people back where I am from they think my life is really amazing when it is anything but.  I have a full time job as a teacher and a family, so that means my life is just like any other person’s life with these conditions, I just happen to be in Istanbul.  People are so often disappointed by that.

Springing off of A3, I decided to create a series of post cards that would document the mundane or melancholic parts of my life. Thinking about truth in photography, I think a lot of expats tend to glamorize their own lives by sending home or posting to social media the cool parts of expat life.  I myself am guilty of that because there are some parts of my life abroad that are really quite amazing but for this I wanted to capture something that is more ‘real’ or at least portray a side of my life that many people don’t imagine or think about.

Brotherus’ photos, the ones I am focusing on, have a sense of melancholy and vulnerability that I am trying to capture in my photos. Below are a few that inspired me:

I love the this last one and would really like to re-create it with one of my cats maybe, but I fear maybe it would be to literal an interpretation of her work.  But I think it is a brilliant photo and I love the sentiment behind it (my dog is cuter than your children). Brilliant. I also have members of my family that did and do cause me a lot of stress–one of the reasons that cause melancholy in me that isn’t from normal day to day life and I would love to send a photo like to this two of them.

So far, I have taken shots of:

me on the bathroom floor

me amidst piles of laundry

me under the washing as it dries

me in bed alone

me in my classroom

to be continued…

Source of images: http://www.elinabrotherus.com/

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

 

Gregory Crewdson–Research Point

The coursework asks that we watch a short video on Crewdson’s work, but from a suggestion from a classmate on the FB forum, I watched the film Brief Encounters about his work. I really like his work, even though I usually am not a fan of staged photography that reflects real life.  I am usually drawn to staged work that is more whimsical or magical, but this work has something to it that really draws me in.
Below are the questions from the coursework and my answers:
Do you think there is more to this work than aesthetic beauty?
Absolutely.  He says that himself that there has to be more than just an aesthetic draw.  He creates work that is haunting at times, scary at times, and just too damn real at times.
Do you think Crewdson succeeds in making his work ‘psychological’? What does this mean?
Absolutely! The layers he creates mostly due to the positioning of the actors augmented significantly by the lighting create this feeling that can be felt deep in the guts.  Being a middle aged person with kids and a career, he captures that feeling I get–quite often these days–of ‘what am I doing with my life?  But they are not depressing in my opinion, they are beautifully pondersome and capture that mundane aspect of the human condition.
What is your main goal when making pictures?
I still don’t know yet.  But when I think about when I first started, I mainly take images of things that are pleasing to me but also images that make a statement of some kind.
Do you think there’s anything wrong with making beauty your main goal? Why or why not?
This issue of beauty has been on my mind for quite some time.  I think in the art world there is a stigma attached to things that are simply beautiful (which is of course relative) but personally, I think it is OK to make images that are beautiful.  I agree with Crewdson in that beauty can’t be all that there is, there needs to be something else that anchors it.  But again, this is all very relative.  I think pictures of flowers are pretty mundane generally, but then you lay your eyes on one of Mapplethorpe’s flowers, and viola, there is meaning (dare I say punctum?)  and something that you carry with you after seeing it.  Sally Mann’s images of her dead dog’s bones are also beautiful and haunting–but they are just dried up old bones, but her process is what transforms the mundane into the beautiful.  She also commented that her southern landscapes would get some criticism for being ‘too beautiful’ but they are beautiful and the way she photographed them gives them a haunting quality that stays with you.  Crewdson does this as well.  I mean, how beautiful can a distraught middle aged man or woman be?  But when you add his sense of mis-en-scene you have something that is both beautiful and provocative.

Singular Images: Essays on Remarkable Photographs by Howarth

This essay is the one that sparked my idea about Mann employing her gaze on her children as a response to her father’s distant approach to fatherhood. It really struck me as being ‘true’  and even though I think the assessors will say it is too much of a stretch (as my tutor did) for some reason I feel strongly in going with it.  I have done some more research and have hopefully made the connections more academic and plausible (see assignment 4).

Also, looking back at this essay after my tutor’s feedback, I saw more connections and that is that both Arbus and Mann were accused of exploiting vulnerable subjects for their own purposes. Sontag equated this with Arbus trying to deal with her privileged upbringing.  So my connection is that both women were dealing with issues from their upbringing and as a result both produced work that was not necessarily well-received by the public.

 

Howarth, S. (2005) Singular Images: Essays on Remarkable Photographs. London: Tate Publishing.

 

 

Thomas Mailaender

This month’s publication of the British Journal of Photography features the work of Thomas Mailaender.  Two of the images immediately caught my eye.  Last Friday I had a video chat with my tutor and he said that assignment 5 should be something that comes out of the other assignments, or is a continuation, etc.

So in pondering that I was thinking I would photograph myself again, but instead the pessimistic part of me that I chose not to reveal in A3. So when I saw this exhibition, it sparked an idea.

I really liked this idea of putting something on the skin that carries meaning of some kind.  I am not sure how I would make this work for my purposes, but it is something I am thinking about.

 

In the magazine write-up he says “I like the melancholic aspect of the human condition.”  He also focuses on the fact that we are not perfect as humans and raises his daughters with this idea.  I think this is a really healthy approach to both being a human but also to being a parent.  What a gift in fact.

source: http://www.bjp-online.com/2017/03/on-show-the-fun-archive-by-thomas-mailaender/