After reviewing my work within this project I have concluded that retracting from my new idea surrounding ‘The Surge of Electricity’ and reverting to my original work based upon memories and journeys will overall produce a stronger body of work as I find my best work is produced when I can develop it with a personal message. My most recent work epitomises the ‘memory’ and ‘journey’ themes as it evokes ideas of a lost soul – many of those who have seen my latest video have voiced ideas of ambiguity, life, death, family, innocence and most importantly, memory. All of these themes reflect the artist’s work I have studied, Dorothea Lange embodies the family ideal, Walker Evans sparked a sense of innocence and Sally Mann combines the two – all of the artists document the journey of life.
It is the journey of life that inspired my concluding video – the ending of the video symbolises the ongoing journey through life and I opted to include clips of video that is meaningful to myself – important events in my life and the people who have influenced it, such as my birthdays, family events and the birth of my brother. By combining these clips with film of journeys I have participated on in later life the video combines a surreal alliance of the past and the present and the repeated clips of fast – forwarding (showing the fast cutting pace of life and a sense of the ‘forgotten’) and an ambiguous ending there is a sense of the future too. I also selected a combination of colour hues and saturation – many of the past clips are brightly coloured reflecting childhood innocence and the saturated video adds another element of obscurity. It is the focus that I manipulated to intensify the overall ambiguity of the video, by juxtaposing constant changes between sharp focus and soft / out of focus shots the viewer can never fully establish what is ‘real’ and what is fantasy or the past.
Walker Evans’ work inspires the same sense of vulnerability that I was attracted to in the work of Sally Mann, especially surrounding the photographs of children – the innate pureness yet ambiguous nature of the images allows the reader to interpret the history for themselves. I have taken this idea within my own work, but added another element of ambiguity with the out of focus techniques, especially within my latest work as I have used the camera to focus in and out –
It was the emotion and sensitivity of Sally Mann’s images from her most famous and controversial series of work ‘Immediate Family’ that originally attracted me to her work and I found a growing similarity in my own work as I studied her images further. Although my work is based in the moving image medium, the deep personal emotions are what I strived to evoke within my work as she based her photographs around her own family, giving the audience an unique insight into her family life and history. The images have been said to evoke feelings of insecurity, loneliness, injury and sexuality – emotions that are rarely explored through images of children.
When being challenged about the controversy surrounding her work, Mann responded her photographs were “natural through the eyes of a mother, since she has seen her children in every state: happy, sad, playful, sick, bloodied, angry and even naked.” Her book was described said to “create a place that looked like Eden, then cast upon it the subdued and shifting light of nostalgia, sexuality and death.” This response shows the true effect of powerful imagery and I have attempted to recreate this passion within my own work.
Mann combines a variety of photographic techniques to develop images with an almost 3 dimensional texture and ‘lived in’ quality, as though each print carries the details of the subject’s life. The use of film allows her to personally create each image, a quality that is somewhat lost through digital methods. Also the black and white and sepia tone of the images adds another sense of archaic authenticity, as though her photographs are lost in time – they are relatively ‘new’ photographs but look much older.
The different focal lengths of each image also personalises the photographs, within the three images I selected it seems as though the younger children have a closer focal point, they are positioned nearer to the camera, perhaps suggesting a closer and more intimate relationship with the photographer. As the children progress in age they seem to be position further from Mann, reflecting the fact they are growing up and moving away. On the other hand, the extreme close up of the last image breaks the previous relationship boundaries, it doesn’t seem as though the subject is emotionally close to the photographer judging by the somewhat fearful facial expression, yet Mann is positioned very close, an invasion of personal space which gives the photograph an intense and violating outcome. This intensity is applied to all three images, the somewhat abused nature of the children’s positioning and questionable health violates the innocence related to such young people, especially in the second image in which the child looks as though it has sustained a black eye. Even though the viewer has no idea of how this injury occurred, the manipulation Mann has used upon the image almost forces the viewer to advocate a sense of blame onto the photographer, a relationship the photography usually doesn’t want to create, yet this is incredibly powerful in the deep and passionate feel of the image.
This gallery contains 12 photos.
After my recent work involving the manipulation of light I found interest in the somewhat abstract idea of electricity – what you can see and what you don’t. As well as developing my work by the study electricity I still want the heart of my images to relate to my memory work as I felt it gives the pieces I produce a deeper strength and would hope to create a piece that combines the electricity and the idea of memory.