I have critique tomorrow (sorry for the tardiness in posting), so I wanted to give a bit of an update/preamble. My thesis work is taking the form of visual poetry created in film photography. The experimental techniques I am using involve multiple, overlapping exposures over the course of an entire film strip, and I have altered my camera so that there are no breaks between frames (which creates the overlap/multiple exposure). Each frame overlaps between 1/3 and 1/2 with the frame before it, creating a visual interaction between frames and no real break or separation. Each whole roll image is then scanned and digitally printed, at a length of about 20 feet long by 2 feet wide. You read that right, 20 feet. The images hang from the top of the gallery walls and extend vertically down the wall and onto the floor for about 5 feet (currently). I am hoping this creates an immersive experience for the viewer, and a flow that would be broken by ending abruptly at the floor. Currently, I think I will have 5 of these long images together on one wall in the gallery. My reason for creating this work is my own response to what I think of as the current state of photography in our precision and speed-obsessed world. We keep making cameras more precise, shutter speeds faster, and our ability to record in heretofore impossible conditions (i.e. in the dark, in extreme temperatures, and under deep water) have reached crazy new heights. In addition, anyone can “be a photographer,” at a time when we all carry decent cameras (in the form of smart phones) in our pockets at every waking moment. So, what is the future of the medium when literally anyone with some money can buy the equipment to take “good” photographs? In my mind, the future lies in an embodied form of photography that brings the hand and breath of the photographer back into the equation. There are a number of ways to do that, and mine includes the anti-instant, a way of stretching time in image. My strategies involve more than that, but we can leave those to critique, or not. As we are constantly reminded (and probably rightly so), the viewer won’t really know all the methodologies of image creation, outside an artist statement, so those things become very secondary to the images at hand. For my critique, I will be showing a half-scale print (10 feet by 12 inches) and a full-scale detail (somewhere around 7 feet, I believe). These images are almost completely unedited, so there will be some level corrections, dust/water spot removal, and a little cropping in future iterations. I have also printed them on a paper of convenience, as I figure out what I want the physicality of the images to be. The prints are on a luster paper, and I believe a semi-matte with a slightly warmer black might be the way to go for the final prints.
I’ve been a busy bee over the break, as, I’m sure, have you! I’ve taken a part-time job as the collections manager and registrar of the Richard M. Ross Museum of Art in Delaware, OH. I was also working for the Canzani Gallery at CCAD doing some digital photo printing for the upcoming photography show. I printed 50+ images for the gallery over break, with the photo department’s permission to use their wonderful suite of printers. I’m excited to see the rest of the work when the show opens later this month. It’s going to be a good one!
Of course, in addition to professional activities, I was also working a lot on thesis. I did a substantial amount of shooting, and I look forward to developing my film this Friday (and probably Sunday, as I can only do 1 roll of 620 film per tank of chemicals). I’ve also been doing a lot of reading for thesis, and I wanted to share a few of my recent reads that have me completely captivated. The first is called “Between the Dark Earth and the Sheltering Sky: The Arboreal in Kiarostami’s Photography” by Erik Nakjavani in Iranian Studies (March 2006). The article focuses on meditation and solitude in photography, particularly in the work of Abbas Kiarostami. One of my favorite quotes from this article reads thus, “Captured photographically, the ever-lasting present moment in nature’s tableau puts us in touch with the whole of Time: past, present, and future as an indivisible whole.” (pp 35) Another focus of this article ties in to research I did at the beginning of the school year on the symbolism of tree, earth, and sky, recurring elements in my own photographs. Bottom line, it’s been a really insightful and enlightening read.
The other article I’ve particularly enjoyed is “A Note on Photography in a Zen Key” by Peter Zhang in China Media Research. It’s a succinct article about the photographic counterculture that has abandoned hi-res instant digital imagery, highly Photoshopped and edited, in favor of something slower and, in the author’s estimation, more Zen. Zhang likens Zen and black and white photography to “coolness” as opposed to the “hotness” of color photographs and the kind of interaction they illicit in a viewer. The article talks about viewer relationship to image, and photography which has the viewer’s satori as its aim.
I’ve also been very keen on the work of Daniel Borden lately, and I’ve been gobbling up anything I can find about his process and the relationship of his work to time. Hopefully that wasn’t too dull, but I’ve had things circulating in my brain and needed to commit a few things to the written word.