Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Burtynsky and Categorisation...

Hugh suggested looking at Burtynsky and Tom agreed at looking at the idea of categorising my photos.
I don't really feel that's the direction I want to go in, we don't categorise our memories, not in terms of subject anyway. Maybe we categorise them in terms of our emotions and the effect they have on us e.g. sad memories, happy memories etc. but I don't feel that is a strong enough reason to categorise my photographs in this way.
Maybe this would work with a photo album, we put photographs in albums depending on the subject e.g. weddings, holidays, family members etc. but not so much as a memory box. People put things that represent important memories in boxes, they're usually a 'mish-mash' of objects and photographs that conjure positive emotions.
Also I don't really see how Burtynsky's images relate to mine?

Gerhart Richter, National Portrait Gallery

Gerhard Richter's portraits, although not directly photographic (the one above is a painting based on a photograph from a newspaper), relate to my own project. The 'fuzziness' of the images create a sense of memory. Our memories become fuzzy over time, unfocused, we become unsure of the specifics. We rely on images to remind us of the details of the events in our lives, to remind us of what has happened. The idea that we use imagery as evidence connects with this as well, photographs prove to ourselves the experiences we have had. Richter challenges the idea of images as a direct representation, as a reminder of our existence. This is something I've picked up with my polarioids, although the out of focus images were not intended they seem to work in a similar way as Richter's portraits. I relate memories to the objects I have photographed but those memories still become fuzzy. The objects don't work as evidence like photographs, they are just little reminders and we don't recall the same details we do as if the memory was recorded by a still image.

In fact the still image isn't what happened, it's just a representation of what happened much like Magritte's painting. We re-create our memories from these representations Burgin highlights this in his essay Possessive, Pensive and Possessed.

"In 1977 sociologists at the University of Provence began a ten-year oral history research project in which they conducted more than four hundred recorded recorded interviews with residents of the Marseille/Aix-en-provence area. They asked each interviewee to describe her or his personal memories of the years 1930 to 1945. They found an almost universal tendency for personal history to be mixed with recollections of scenes from films and other media productions. 'I saw at the cinema' would become simply 'I saw'. For example, a woman speaks of her experiences as a child amongst refugees making the hazardous journey from the North of France down to Marseille. She recalls the several columns of refugees in which she was travelling was strafed by German aircraft. In recounting these memories she invokes a scene from Rene Clement's film of 1952, Jeux Interdits, in which a small girl in a column of refugees survives an air attack in which her parents are killed."

This seems to suggest that the subjects replaced their own memories with fictional pieces of film, or at least confused their own memories with these works. The differences between this instance and referencing photographs of our experiences to refresh our memories are they're not a piece of fiction, they directly relate to our past experiences and therefore can be seen as a 'recording' of our memories rather than an interpretation. 

Nevertheless my polaroids challenge the use of photographs as memorials to important events in our lives, the subjects are not clear, they're not in focus which references the unsure nature of our memories. They relate to the medium of painting because polaroids are originals and can't be reproduced, although the process is photographic and they work as images in the same way as photographs they share that feeling of originality with more traditional artistic mediums.

Susan Sontag, On Photography

"To collect photographs is to collect the world. Movies and television programs light up walls, flicker, and go out; but with still photographs the image is also an object, light-weight, cheap to produce, easy to carry about, accumulate, store. In Godard's Les Carabiniers (1963), two sluggish lumpen-peasants are lured into joining the King's Army by the promise that they will be able to loot, rape, kill, or do whatever they please to the enemy, and get rich. But the suitcase of booty that Michael-Ange and Ulysse triumphantly bring home, years later, to their wives turns out to contain oly picture postcards...Godards gag vividly parodies the equivocal magic of the photographic image."

© Susan Sontag

This section of Sontag's famous essay relates to the essence of the photograph. Memory, knowledge and evidence are all tied to the photographic image. I aim to address the idea of storing and accumulating through the presentation of my images. I will be creating my own "suitcase of booty"...

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

New Project

I need some help on refining my idea.

I want to photograph people's prized possessions. i want my subjects to also write up a memory that they relate to that specific object (in their own handwriting to emphasise the idea of individualism). I 'm looking at individuality and the idea of memory really. My main inspiration was Wim Wender's work at Photocinema in Derby. He took photos of what he experienced on his travels then printed a story relating to the photograph next to it. You will probably remember them if you went, the prints were in black and white.

The text aspect of project is important, I think it will give my work a deeper context. I don't know how to represent it though, I either scan in my negs and use photoshop, try and print them using traditional methods and then contact printing the text using an acetate print out. Or I could use the idea of handwriting in a seperate book. In fact, i've just had an idea, Why not make a book? Not a digital book like Hugh was saying but more like a scrap book but a bit more formal. I could use polaroids (or the fuji equivalent) to really enforce the idea of memory. The instantaneous nature of polaroid has always been a popular aspect when recording important memories and will also save me time.

I also thought of Rene Magritte's painting.

The idea that the picture if the object I'm photographing is not actually the object, it's only an image of that object is quite interesting. Also I think that my photograph will be able to invoke the same memories to the subject as the object itself. I think the photograph will also have it's own significant meaning to the owner of the specific object, the fact that is embodied in a photograph is seemingly quite special. The reason we photograph our family is to remember them and to remind us of memories we have of them. Do our most prized possessions do the same? Or do we rely on photograph's to remind us of the most important times in our lives?

Any suggestions would be much appreciated, thanks.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Still Thinking...

My thought from yesterday wouldn't work.
There are images I simply can't recreate.

I'm going to pick 6 specific images to re-photograph and concentrate on them. If one doesn't work then I'll choose another until I'm happy with the series.

I've decided I'm going to use medium format, I'll take my DSLR with me for back up shots(and to act as a light metre).

Right decision made. 1 week to shoot, 1 week to print, 1 week to get the exhibition ready.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

A thought...

Maybe I should concentrate on one specific volume of Victorian Nottingham and re-photograph every image over a certain number of pages.

That way there will be a flow to the work and the use of the page layout would make sense a little more.

Also, I'm leaning towards b+w medium format - it's relatively quick and I can crop in the dark room. Also I won't have to rely on anyone else to print for me.

Argh, I need to be more decisive!


New photos up on flickr.

I've been trying to re-photograph the streets of Nottingham, taking similar angles to old Victorian images. I'm not going to create a kind of photo-montage type project, replacing a piece of an old photograph with it's modern equivalent. I'm actually rephotographing whole photographs.

It has been quite tricky so far, I've been using a wide angle lens on my DSLR (a format obviously not used by Victorian photographers) so getting the right angle and trying to fit everything into the frame has posed a few problems.

I'm considering black and white, medium format but I really don't want to get bogged down by film at this late stage.

Also I still have the problem of displaying the old images. I'm currently referencing 3 volumes of a journal called Victorian Nottingham, it was published by the Evening Post. I'm thinking of scanning in the images (with whatever text is around it) and printing them on photo-quality paper. Then I can display them underneath/next to my own prints. The A4 page layout will be familiar to the viewer so I don't think it's necessary to print them to the size of my own images. The original images would essentially be a form of supporting text, they give my own images a context so it is important they are included in the exhibition.