Early in the year I applied to be part of a project at Sale Arts Centre through Arts Council England. On selection the course ran over spring/summer. It was structured around artistic talks from established artist Len Grant and Mishka Henner, group discussion and planning for the show. We decided as group to call it ‘Risk’. Which then set off on individual paths to create individual bodies of work. Having a few ideas the one that had the most relevance to me was first evolved in my little brain while visiting the Valleys in South Wales and decimation of culture, heritage and David Cameron favourite word “Community”. In the 80s the Tories swapped everyone’s jobs for crummy industrial estates, so rather than have a trade you can go and work making pizza or box toilet rolls through an agency. The bureaucrats dream!
The problem is they have built that many industrial estates in the North West and North Wales they don’t have enough business to fill their over saturated dream! I took it on myself to find as many of these sites as I could and document them. In this body of work i hope to the finical ‘Risk’ we are hindered with?
So I’m all packed and ready yo depart for Sicily tomorrow morning. However last night i had a bit fun projecting in a secret location for something i am doing for Helfa Gelf at the end of the years. it will involve 1960’s cine film projection and my words. It was a long night waiting for it to go dark but the results were worth waiting for.
So today was the day…
I got my hands on the book I’ve dreamt about for a long time. No more will I have to look it images on-line. I got hold of the legend that is An Aperture Monograph by Diane Arbus, my first lady of photography. The minute I bought the book I thought I want to write about it. I want to understand it. So I started reading through the Severn or so pages put together from various Arbus interviews before her untimely death.
The front cover of the two twins is the story of the next 50 or so images. Life is the same thing but everything is different. We judge on the discrepancy rather than happiness. They transpose sadness into our own grief and our lack of understanding of the situation we structure around our opinions.
I don’t think you can say the book is to show anything specific as it was never put together by the artist. However you get a feel of image impact, isolation, turmoil and confrontation. Arbus captures eyes so well they haunt in every image. The much talked about boy in the park image taken in central park in 1970
Is one of my favourite images of all time. What i love more is this image captures the essence of the decisive moment invented by Henri Cartier-Bresson and the fine line of Stadium and Punctum devised by Roland Barthes
what he terms, the stadium and the punctum. The Studium refers to the range of meanings available and obvious to everyone; it is unary and coded, the former term implying that the image is a unified and self-contained whole whose meaning can be taken in at a glance (without effort, or ‘thinking’)
The Punctum is a detail or “partial object” that attracts and holds the viewer’s (the Spectator’s) gaze; it pricks or wounds the observer.
We see the stadium in the image of the alleged psychopath child, the posed image. The image without information has a second world war germanic feel to it again you are caught by the eyes. What really pull’s you in creating the Punctum of image is the grenade which sends a cold shudder down your spine.
This is also the decisive moment as described by Bresson
“To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression”.
This is shown by the selection of contact images from the central park image
Depicting the sweet child at play. I’m not sure what Arbus said to her subjects but her befriending of subjects resulting in lasting looks. I think in a time when it may have been frowned upon to capture transvestite, dwarfs and people with disability. Arbus skill to control the image and get the subject to pull the face we least expect. The down syndrome children laughing and joking. The cross dressing entertainer looking sad and troubled something people would never have seen and been challenged by.
The images that have had the most influence on my work are the empty spaces. loveless and striking
The Swan lake image I see as Arbus on her travels to new unvisited places that she would venture to photographing the people who inhabit them.
Maybe I see Arbus in the wrong way to me she is strength and reason to take on and photograph the mundane.
I recently read John Szarokowski’s 1964 book The Photographers Eye. This was produced to cover M.O.M.A first critically acclaimed photography exhibition, in the book he cover the topics which he sees are the 5 basic principles of a photograph. They are
As you can see from the information the image gives you . She is a cute cat with fine gray fur and eyes that could melt ice burghs. She is always alert never switching off. She can be very placid when she can be bothered with human interaction. The closeness of the image gives the scale human qualities as often used by the likes of William Eggleston
The framing of the image shows that she is in a house lording it up on a chair. The slightly off centre subject in the image gives you a feel of warmth and content maybe sat in front room
I had to be quick and get the cat looking straight into the lens of the camera, had she have been looking away it would have lost some power and honesty it was taken at 1/8 f8 iso 100 flash +2 zoom 50mm
The subject is the key to the image . We are not interested in anything else the image has to offer other than maybe its indoors. Taken from higher vantage point i.e standing; the cat would have looked different. A shot from the side would be distracted by a clock case or the T.v. So on my knees close in at the cats view of things makes us engage with the subject.
These are simple thing you can do every time you take a photo. a simple image can when broken down tell so much. What do you think?
All the many things we ask about an image. Is Photographer drive for social or economic change, a moment of chance, to show an experience.
I don’t disagree in the essence of the skull been moved as it was at the time trying to get a point across of the level of a national issue. However the Iwa Jima image is the other end of the scale. it was something that was spontaneous and missed. Then recreated in an act of power led by Generals. I think this is covered very well in the Clint Eastwood film Letters from Iwa Jima.
My work in the ‘Your last breath” captures a fictional moment to me the photographer but a recurring theme of streets of Britain with the ultimate price for acts of misadventure or Your last Breath…
A good article on what i would probably say is one of my favorite photographers. The article discus how america has changed in the 50 years of his work. I think the thing with america im fast learning is the british see it as san francisco new york the white house and the Jay Leno show. we forget about all the bits in the middle. it’s not all lip gloss and long legs. The deprivation in areas is well hidden many area showing little of evolving to the modern set. Eggleston ability to capture the mundane to most document a time dna to almost conjured set of his location. His work will forever turn a head as it looks so fresh with it sparking colours.