I am interested in how people seem to impose a meaning into their surroundings. This has led me to explore how I as a photographer try to fabricate a meaning out of what I choose to photograph. With this series I have photographed several objects, found within one location, that do not have a particular purpose or relation to one another, but by placing them within my visual language and sequencing them in the way I have it appears as if these objects have gained a meaning. I want the viewer to speculate and to be intrigued, but I don’t want to give them to much guidance, as I’d rather they bring their own experiences to the viewing of the photographs. The viewer therefore becomes active in this process of applying meaning to a found object.
The reason I have placed a photogram next to each photograph is so that the viewer can see the drastic transformation an object can undergo simply by being photographed. I wanted the photogram to act as a reverse to this transformation and appear more of an objective visual representation of the object. My aim with this body of work is to get people thinking about how and why we apply so much meaning to our physical surroundings.
Having produced my photographs for this assignment I was then faced with the decision on how to present the work. Originally this body of work had been inspired from a photo book and it had been from that point that my intentions were to present the photographs in a book format, but since reviewing my pieces (examples below) I do not think that it would work as a book. As each image is viewed as a diptych I thought it might be impractical to sequence them in a book as they may appear crammed, within the confined space of a page. It made sense then that they would best be viewed in a larger format, such as in an exhibition environment. I have tested this out by having one of the images printed A1 size and it seems almost organic for the photograph to be blown up larger to be viewed, although I believe the photograph could benefit from being even bigger than its current A1 size. The large format allows the viewer to study each side of the diptych individually and when viewed from a distance they become unified as one piece, one side informing the viewing of the other side.
Going back to my original intentions I wanted these photographs to appear to have a narrative, to bring together these objects found within one location and create a meaningful presence. When changing my idea from presenting in a book format to an exhibition I didn’t forget about this so have sequenced them in this PDF of how they would be displayed. I have taken into consideration several aesthetic qualities of the images when ordering them such as the compositions, shapes and colours within each frame. I chose to open and close the story with an image of the sky which I think act as a nice equilibrium to the opening and finish of the narrative.
In order to create this sequence I drew on past experiences I have had in developing my knowledge of sequencing. I have found myself on several occasions flicking through Rinko Kawauchi’s ‘Illuminance’ and have also experienced how the narrative in the book has been translated into an exhibition. The photo book ‘Sightwalk’ by Gueorgui Pinkhassov has been the starting point of inspiration for this project and most recently a lecture dedicated to sequencing led by Jason Tilly has been an influence. We were given the opportunity to have a go at ordering his body work and what I noticed a few people doing was simply grouping the photographs that appeared similar aesthetically together. What I found this did was make the photographs appear tiresome, making it difficult to zone in on one in particular. So what I took away from this is in order to create some excitement in the viewer the sequence needs to be kept fresh, this doesn’t mean putting two photographs that have nothing alike together but rather I have tried to keep the similarities in the pairings of photographs to a minimum. This is something I have also noted in the sequencing of Kawauchi’s work, although there are similarities in the pairings the excitement is kept in its sequence by the contrasting moods you gain from viewing each photograph.
Since starting back at university I have been neglecting some research I had started to carry out for a personal project. At least I thought I had been ignoring it but recently I have been putting my assignment together and have only just realised just how much this previous research has informed my practice. In this research I wanted to explore people and how they personalised their environments. More specifically I wanted to know what I could learn about a person from looking at how they chose to personalise their surroundings and what relationship they have with them. My interest in this subject has stemmed from a previous project I have done, in which I explored my own surrounding and questioned myself on why I felt a personal attachment to certain environments. Having the desire to want to further this project I was interested in trying to understand the psychology of it.
To give an example of what I found whilst looking through the ‘Journal of Environmental Psychology’ I discovered how people would personalise places in similar ways. In work spaces woman appeared to surround themselves with objects that would express their identity e.g photos of their family, pets and friends, whereas men would usually surround themselves with symbols of achievement. The writer of this particular article suggested that men personalised their work space in this way so they could express their status in the company. To sum up what else I discovered by looking through the this journal is that people invest a great deal of meaning into their surroundings. They do this in order to communicate who they are as well as forming attachments to places, such as their home in order to feel a sense of belonging.
I have also recently been reading ‘The Comfort of Things’ by Daniel Miller. The book gives an insight of people living along a single street, with each chapter giving a detailed account of a different person. Daniel Miller carried out the research himself, along with an assistant, but rather than getting to know each of the people by solely interviewing them he also explored their environments and read into their personal belongings, as he felt this was more of an honest way of getting to understand that person.
My current project is exploring how people seem to try and apply a meaning to their surroundings. I believe this is an idea that has stemmed from this research, which was not all carried out necessarily for this assignment, but my personal interest for the subject seems to have unconsciously fed into the projects development.
Recently I have been struggling to formulate a concept for a new project, which revolved around a particular sight. I have toyed with the idea of creating a series of portraits within one area, in order to explore the diversity of lifestyles with a small area but I am struggling to put this idea into practice. I have chosen a street and wrote to each house along that street asking if they would be interested in participating in this project. As I wait for a response I have been exploring other options, which led me to discover Gueorgui Pinkhassov’s book ‘Sightwalk.
This photographers work is completely new to me and the experience of reading this photobook was a completely unique one. I had found this book by scanning through the shelves of all the photobooks at the library and this book jumped out with its weirdly textured, purple cover. Having an initial flick through I was immediately drawn to the aesthetic style of this work, the colours, the compositions and the abstract style were all aspects I could relate to. Because of this I decided to sit down and have a detailed look through the body of work.
The photographs seemed to be split into sections, or chapters, each section starting with a list of words, such as ‘fishmarket’, ‘sunlight’ and ‘parking’. At no point throughout the book does it explain these words or the body of work. I came to the conclusion that the words must correspond to the following photographs, but there is no order to them so the matching of the word is left up to the viewer. Because of this I had quite a unique viewing experience and a lot more of an interactive one than I usually do when going through a photobook. Once I paired a word with an image I later realise that word could apply to a different image, so I would go back to the list of words and find a different one that could match what I was seeing in the photograph. This caused me to have several alternate perspectives of a single photograph, which I found extremely interesting and exciting as I don’t think I have ever viewed an image in such a way.
This got me thinking about how the photographer can alter the meaning of a subject, simply by placing it within a framework they have devised. I thought of how an object acquires meaning by the way in which it is photographed and sequenced among a series. With this in mind I am thinking of creating a narrative by photographing found objects within a particular site. These subjects may not have any relation to one another but hopefully by the way in which they are captured and placed alongside each other the viewer will begin to interpret them in their own unique narrative.
The Photographers Gallery Played host this summer to the ‘DEUTSCHE BÖRSE PHOTOGRAPHY PRIZE 2012‘, which exhibited works from four different photographers, one of them being Rinko Kawauchi. I was more intrigued to view Kawauchi’s work as having already experienced this body of work ‘Illuminance’ in its book format I wanted to see how the narrative of the work would translate to being displayed in a gallery setting.
What I found when viewing the exhibition was that the photographs were just as emotionally charged as they are in the book. What I mean by emotionally charged is that when you view the images in sequence you’re taken on a roller-coaster of moods, one second you will be looking at an abstract photograph with a soft colour pallet and you slowly transcend into a dreamlike quality, then you’ll be rudely awakened by a sudden shock of phobia from the sight of an insect or a grotesque group of eyeballs.
Something I discovered through the writings in the book is that the series creates a childlike curiosity in the viewer, a curiosity that looks at the fragile insignificant objects and living things that surround us. I thought that this theme (whether intentional or not) was emphasised within the way this exhibition was displayed. The varying sizes of the prints meant that some subjects were almost thrust upon you and forcing you to look at them, as they were quite large prints in comparison to the smaller prints which required you to step in closer to them, almost teasing that curiosity out of the viewer.
Through this exhibition I have deepened my appreciation for Kawauchi’s photographs. She is a photographer that has informed my work previously and by viewing this series in a new light I am happy to be able to look at my surroundings in a similar fashion.
In my previous post I mentioned that I wanted to include other people in an ongoing personal project I am carrying out, which is about establishing a home. I outlined that I wanted to explore other peoples environments and how they sat within their settings, whether they chose to personalise and connect with it.
The series of images below are of my partner, they explore his current living condition. He is a working actor on a touring theatre production, so is never in one location for more than a couple of weeks at any given moment. These photographs explore how is physical space is void of personalisation, he goes from location to location with nothing more than his suitcase and is unable to establish a personal connection with the spaces he inhabits.
In previous projects I have explored my surroundings, the physical world that surrounds me and how I connect with it. I explored the notion of a home and chose to capture the environments that I felt I had an emotional connection to, in a way that gave tribute to the most mundane everyday object, whether that be a bowl of cereal, a bedroom windowsill cluttered with personal possessions or a heap of clothes on a radiator. Non of which sound particularly interesting or special but I set out to transform them into something special in order to reflect the emotional connection I have with them, which is what helps define a home for me.
I have recently been interested in expanding this project to include other people and how they go about transforming their surroundings to create a secure environment. I feel it is important to identify a home, to establish one. I believe it helps me to function and motivates me to carry out everyday life when travelling to an alien location. When first moving into a new place I feel the need to personalise it (as I am sure is the case with many others) by surrounding myself with objects that I have become familiar with and have applied either an emotion or memory to I begin to build a sense of security and belonging to the physical environment. I think it is a basic human need to make the physical environment you inhabit one that you feel secure in, so that you able to function in your daily life.
I set out to explore if this is the case with others. To create a photographic record of others in their environments and compare the differences and similarities in how people establish a secure environment or whether some people feel the need to establish one more than others.