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PHO710

MIRRORS & WINDOWS

As an image-maker, I believe right now that I identify with both the mirror and window analogy. This is because I feel that my photographs & thus my reason for taking photographs blur the lines for a specific window or mirror analogy. My images not only provide a snapshot of my life but into others’ lives as well. This snapshot style of photography can be seen in the work of Nan Goldin, whose work was described in relation to a “snapshot aesthetic."(Souter, 2018: 89) I capture images that seemingly do not have any organizational trait & use social media as a platform to place these photographs on for a metaphorical affirmation. Mark Zimmerman critiques Goldin’s work “for its creation of an advertising style than for what it says of the lives including her own, she chronicles."(Souter, 2018: 90)

 

I too believe Zimmerman would be just as sharp-tongued about my work & I would most certainly agree. I find myself using social media as an advertising platform for others to provide me with the quantifiable affirmations I desire to see, and the reassurance of their opinions.  I think this stems from being told at college that I wouldn’t get very far. So, the fight inside me has a kind of “I’ll prove you wrong” stance. Although in my personal life I still try to gain the affirmation of others due to this blip. In my practice, however, I would now like to take more of a risk and truly portray my authentic style - not worrying about affirmations en masse and learning to take charge of my practice. Having a dominance in this practice is not one I am used to, but if I am to carry on being passive, this will therefore allow others opinions to morph my practice rather than allowing my creative palette to branch out independently.

 

I feel that through my current practice I can relate to Almania Ulman’s mirror window analogy. Ulman’s investigation (Excellences & Perfections, 2015) uses actual and metaphorical mirrors to highlight the staged life of an ‘insta babe/ blogger’ by posting selfies of herself. Ulman’s main focus was to share her image with the masses. Although my work is not directly focussed on selfies, it is however focussed currently on sharing with the masses which Alise Tifentale and Lev Manovich state “The very raison d’être of the selfie is to be shared on social media.” (Manovich & Tifentale in SOUTER, 2018: 101) However by sharing to the masses… have I now turned my photographs into objects?4 By ultimately collecting them and organising them onto an Instagram grid to be lapped up by the masses? Susan Sontag believes that “To collect photographs is to collect the world… with still photographs the image is also an object.” (Sontag, 2014: 1) Maybe that is what I have subconsciously chosen to do. 5

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Although we’re concentrating on mirrors and windows for this particular topic, another metaphor I would use that provides an insight into photography would be a river. Rivers meander and morph, just like one’s own photography practice. Sometimes you are led down one path toward a type of photography practice and find yourself elsewhere, changing and challenging certain ideas and trying out new techniques.

 

My overall motivation for photography is to tell the stories of others, I would like to learn and progress this through documentary photography. Overall photography will help me to broaden my practice by telling stories concisely and emotively.

References:

1 Szarkowski, J. (1979) ‘Introduction to The Photographer’s Eye’ in PETRUCK, Peninah R. (ed.) The Camera Viewed: Writings on Twentieth-Century Photography. Vol. 2. New York: E P Dutton.

2 Souter, L., (2018). Why Art Photography? 2nd edn.

Abingdon: Routledge & CRC Press.

3Souter, L., (2018). Why Art Photography? Routledge: Routledge & CRC Press

4Souter, L., (2018). Why Art Photography? Routledge: Routledge & CRC Press

5Sontag, S., (2014). On Photography, Penguin: Penguin Books Limited

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PHO710

METHODS & MEANING.

  • What challenged you?  

I was challenged this week by trying to work out the methods I use to depict my methodologies within my practice.

  • What surprised you?  

I was surprised at the seemingly organised strategy I have for some of my photography projects.

  • What do you feel you learned?  

I have learned that I need to embrace my experimental nature within my practice.

“In metaphorical terms, the photograph is seen either as a mirror — a romantic expression of the photographer's sensibility as it projects itself on the things and sights of this world; or as a window — through which the exterior world is explored in all its presence and reality.1

(Szarkowski, 1978: 2)

In response to Szarkowski, the ‘mirror’ and ‘window’ analogy is one that I relate to currently in both senses. On the one side, my practice resides with the mirror - a subjective practice, depicting a very metaphorical, manipulated, and cryptic world. Not only do I use physical mirrors in my current practice but the mirrored world I create metaphorically also provides an insight into my personal life and forces my opinion on the images I seek to capture. However, on the other hand, I also resonate with the window analogy and use the viewfinder to directly show viewers a very exterior and real-world, for example: Documenting others’ lives. I’m having to quote Alan Sugar on this one - but quite literally - “What you see is what you get” with a lot of my current practice. This analogy has helped me to understand not only how I portray my thoughts & findings to the viewers that stumble upon my images, but also how my practice right now is determined by the very subject or object I find myself pointing the cameras one visual viewfinder toward.

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  • What methods and methodologies have you consciously applied in your practice to date to communicate a concept or an intended meaning?

 

I use digital, analog, and instant film photography methods. This is because I like to experiment with an array of methods to make sure the concept I have planned out is able to portray the story correctly for my subject, landscape, or object.

  • Can you identify and describe methods in your practice that convey meaning, which you might not have intended at the time?

I have used both instant film, analog and digital methods of photography to depict different moods and atmospheres within my practice. For example, I believe that certain stories deserve that extra depth and grain with analog to document raw emotion and authenticity.

  •  Have any of the practitioners you looked at this week (including your peers) given you any inspiration for strategies or methods you might ‘impose’ upon yourself to expand the creative possibilities of your own work?  

The photographer I have chosen is Marcus DeSieno. Marcus DeSieno focuses on surveillance & questions our relationship with the natural landscape in a world where someone’s always watching. This can be seen in his work: ‘No Mans Land: Views from a Surveillance State’ DeSieno went hiking in one of America’s national parks and saw rangers putting up surveillance cameras to deter trespassers. All the rangers were focused on was how the quality of the image would fail in the dark, whereas DeSenio believed it wasn’t the functionality of the camera that needed investigating, it was in fact the dominance of power that these cameras bring with them.

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So he decided to hack CCTV/surveillance cameras by taking a quick crash course in hacking, with no previous experience of this… he found it alarmingly easy to do. His method was to use surveillance as a base for means of researching and finding out what CCTV cameras, in a seemingly unthreatening & natural landscape, meant. His concepts and methodology is portrayed through the use of these different screenshots & snapshot outtakes from the surveillance cameras. DeSenio states:

 

“ The surveillance camera is the signifier of dominance and power over us,” he explains. “When we see a surveillance camera outside of a building, it is a sign that somebody is watching. Or, it is a sign someone could be watching. It demands an authority.” - https://www.huckmag.com/art-and-culture/photography-2/marcus-desieno-no-mans-land-hack/

 

DeSenio realised on reflection that through his research & methods he too became the watcher. Within my own work I find surveillance intriguing and have come to realise that I use methods of a sort of ‘lay in wait’ technique whereby I watch my subject closely before snapping. – This connotes quite sinister ideologies… even if the subject in focus is as simple as a phone box all alone in the middle of a field. Breaking the link of surveillance amongst urban landscapes, by creating a pathway for surveillance as a whole has always intrigued me.

 

http://www.marcusdesieno.com/surveillance-landscapes/g7dlrbuvkzx5782m0zsv9o2qpe19q0

 

http://www.marcusdesieno.com/surveillance-landscapes/7tgshl1845ndb2jzm3h3ureu42ykkb

 

 

The photographer I have chosen is Marcus DeSieno. Marcus DeSieno focuses on surveillance & questions our relationship with the natural landscape in a world where someone’s always watching. This can be seen in his work: ‘No Mans Land: Views from a Surveillance State’. - http://www.marcusdesieno.com/surveillance-landscapes (Links to an external site.) 

DeSieno went hiking in one of America’s national parks and saw rangers putting up surveillance cameras to deter trespassers. All the rangers were focused on was how the quality of the image would fail in the dark (the functionality of the camera), whereas DeSenio believed it wasn’t the functionality of the camera that needed investigating, it was in fact the dominance of power that these cameras brought with them. So he decided to hack CCTV/surveillance cameras by taking a quick crash course in hacking, with no previous experience of this… he found it alarmingly easy to do. His method was to use surveillance as a basis for the means of researching and finding out what CCTV cameras, in a seemingly unthreatening & natural landscape, meant. His concepts and methodology is portrayed through the use of these different screenshots & snapshot outtakes from the surveillance cameras.

DeSenio states: “ The surveillance camera is the signifier of dominance and power over us,” he explains. “When we see a surveillance camera outside of a building, it is a sign that somebody is watching. Or, it is a sign someone could be watching. It demands an authority.” - https://www.huckmag.com/art-and-culture/photography-2/marcus-desieno-no-mans-land-hack/ (Links to an external site.)

DeSenio realized on reflection that through his research & methods he too became the watcher. Within my own work, I find surveillance intriguing and have come to realize that I use methods of a sort of ‘lay in wait’ technique whereby I watch my subject closely before snapping. – This connotes quite sinister ideologies… even if the subject in focus is as simple as a phone box all alone in the middle of a field.

DeSenio's work could also loosely relate to Sophie Calle's work. Calle was continually watched by the private investigator. Both photographers knew they were being watched. Although Calle's work focused on surveillance within an urban area, both photographers in-turn became the watchers of their intertwining surveillance plans. Calle observed the work of her surveyor and so did too DeSenio, who hacked into the surveillance cameras to watch natural scenes filmed in real-time. Breaking the link of surveillance amongst urban landscapes, by creating a pathway for surveillance on a grand scale has always intrigued me. 

 

Fig. 1 http://www.marcusdesieno.com/surveillance-landscapes/7tgshl1845ndb2jzm3h3ureu42ykkb (Links to an external site.) 

Fig. 2 http://www.marcusdesieno.com/surveillance-landscapes/g7dlrbuvkzx5782m0zsv9o2qpe19q0 (Links to an external site.) 

Fig. 3 My own image. 

Fig. 4 My own image.

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