so i am in the midst of a flurry of travel. i spent last week in new york and will be leaving for a week in maine tomorrow. these travels will be playing a major roll in my final works, though i am still not sure what the process of these travels will ultimately produce. just been writing, shooting and collecting like a mad man. i’ve also been reading some things and looking at a few awesome artists, mainly harold ross and the duo of taiyo onorato & nico krebs. both of these artists look at space and environments in very radical ways. more to come, maybe some previews at some point, who knows!
so, as always, things with my thesis are shifting. while i started with a desire to address the meaning of ‘home’, i’ve decided to open the concept up a bit and focus more just on the idea of importance of space. over the course of my time here at ccad, i’ve really come to learn that capturing images of spaces that i see is a truly cathartic exercise for me, so i’m pursuing that process more in depth.
the images i wind up making are representations of a desire to be alone mixed with my inevitable isolated existence.
where is this going? i have no real idea.
am i still traveling to photograph places i’ve lived in the past? yes, to try and answer why those places worked (or didn’t) as a comfortable space.
why have i left these places?
why do i have an uncontrollable urge to be on the move?
why are some spaces more important, and why are they not?
been finding/looking at some new artists, mainly adam white.
adam white takes some great images of spaces, and the titles of two of his projects, “it’s okay to be alone” and “the best place to be is somewhere else” really speak to me. some of my favorite forms of inspiration often come in simple statements, lyrics, titles, sentences, etc., so white’s work already was intriguing to me, and reinforced further by the titles he chooses.
and lastly, i’ve been contemplating returning to the blended images I made a year ago, or trying something more traditional…. so i made a quick image using my most recent shoot in the ally of my house here in columbus and blending it with a very non-urban photo i took in ireland this summer.
while considering the upcoming face-first dive into my thesis, this quote from hubert selby jr has stuck in my mind. i am going to spend this coming year revisiting some themes that were addressed in my first semester project from last year (a lost man), though i will be looking at them through a new lens, and in many ways addressing an entirely new topic.
i will be focusing on the importance of ‘home’ and what it means as an overall concept, as well as what it has meant to me personally throughout my thirty years.
this is my tentative concept, and it will not be fully flushed out until i start making. when i set out to work on a project, i always start with the basics – i just go out and shoot images, then i focus on the conceptual/theoretical thoughts after the fact. so that is what i’m going to be doing in the coming months, i’m going back to my many homes: spread across maine, new york, north carolina and ohio (MAYBE back to ireland if i can swing it), and i’m going to photograph, write, draw, collect, etc. as a large part of my research. what will come of it is yet to be truly known, but that is what makes it exciting for me.
in the meantime, here are the artists i’ve been looking at as of late:
robert ellis is a young irish photographer, who i had the pleasure of getting to know while i was there this summer. ellis’s work from new line focuses on a small, isolated community in the west of ireland. i have been thinking a lot about how to alternately capture an environment or landscape while trying to avoid tropes and cliche imagery, and i think ellis looks at places in that way.
ellis also has a series called the peoples park, which focuses on a forest park found within galway city. this space also resonates with me in terms of its unique local and isolation.
and finally i’ve recently enjoyed looking into the work of melanie schiff. her view on landscape is somewhat more traditional, but also quite stunning, and i really enjoy both her digital images and her in-camera film prints.
these two more traditional images are just my type of thing, but i also love her ability to abstract the landscape and create unique images out of more mundane subject matter.
just randomly threw this video together to make a little ‘showcase’ of some of the images i took while in ireland this summer.
Over the course of this semester this project has taken on multiple forms, and experienced many shifts in both how I choose to talk about it as well as how I am choosing to present it. Do I just display polaroids in a grid on the wall? Do I just show the ‘last words’ written by my sitters? Do I put up the diptychs that I started making at the beginning of the semester?
Do I do something completely different?
Yes. Yes I do. While I loved shooting with the Polaroid camera for a majority of the semester, I have chosen to put that little guy aside in favor of a dumbed-down digital camera (I have been putting my Diana+ lenses on my DSLR) – and the results are very exciting for me. I needed this work to go somewhere else, to tell a different story – and to share the stories I was hearing in a new sense. Currently I have shifted completely from where I started: I am no longer focusing on the desired last words that people have shared with me, and am instead looking deeper into the real stories of loss that the people I have interviewed have experienced. These stories are banal, utterly unexciting, but true and real in a way that the desired words were falling flat for me. I have been finding a lot of meaning and power in the mundane and everyday world around me lately, so I suppose it was only natural for me to be drawn to the banality of a lot of these statements.
Three weeks to go. Crunch time. More work coming soon.
“A picture is a secret about a secret, the more it tells you the less you know.” – Diane Arbus
Changes, the starman says it all. After a successful second group critique, and a great meeting with my mentor, my project has started to take on a new form. For this critique, I displayed some more and newer images I had constructed from the collection of portraits and statements that I have amassed so far, and I also tacked up all the polaroids and paper scraps that I have collected in a secondary piece on the side. The overall feel that I got from my classmates and mentors was that the actual objects that I have been gathering are far more interesting to see than the constructed images I had started to make. The diptychs that I had been creating were starting to feel too cliche, lame and over time have become secondary to the actual polaroids and last words that I have been collecting.
So now I am looking at ideas of beauty found in the mundane, memento mori and the power of the snapshot when thinking about how photography captures a moment in time that is impossible to retrieve.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what Barthes had to say about photography:
“If photography is to be discussed on a serious level, it must be described in relation to death,… It’s true that a photograph is a witness, but a witness of something that is no more.”
So now that I am leaning in a new and changed direction, my project is turning into a new and before now unknown entity. More to come, we shall see.
“I am neither subject nor object but a subject who feels he is becoming an object” – Roland Barthes
Went to SPE this past weekend, it was crazy. Lots of great talks/seminars, networking, art books and parties – needless to say, I’m drained. While in Baltimore I found a few more people to take part in the project, which is great – however in talking to these people about the project I discovered that I have become much more interested in the stories they tell me than the actual last words they write.
I guess I’ve always been interested in stories, and what I’ve heard from people has inspired me to also try to photographically represent those stories along with the others.
I’ve also been continuing to try and compose the final images of words/polaroids with environments inspired by the words. Finding the right spot, or the right weather, or any number of other needs has been a fun adventure, but also limiting. I’m worried that the compositions I create are going to be unreadable or just too damn cliche to convey the meaning. So I’ve been working a lot on that.
Going to New York this coming weekend/week for spring break and further investigations into my project. It will be good to visit old friends, meet new subjects for my project, build some more finished works and hear more stories.
Been a little while since I’ve posted, been caught up in the storm that is school/work/play/school/showcases, etc, etc. My project has been going along slow but steadily, I’ve managed to snag an interview here and there, and the overall body of work is growing. The hurdle I’ve met is in the form of conceptualizing how to make final compositions based on my sitters last words – how do you compose an image when someone simply writes “suck it yah dingus”? Also, a number of my projected compositions are going to be based around nicer weather (green grass, bright sunlight, etc.) and the barrage of ‘polar vortexes’ hitting the midwest right now is extremely unhelpful.
Classes are going well, recently have been inspired by the writings of Gustav Metzger and his theories on auto-destructive art – makes me want to break things (in a good way). Student teaching is still an adventure, simultaneously learning and teaching as we move through the semester, the students have been working on scan-o-grams lately – good fun!
Was part of the RAWartists PIXEL showcase last week, which was an awesome and amazing experience. RAW brings together artists in from particular cities, from all disciplines, and holds a one night showcase of their work. It was good practice for talking about, selling, and displaying my artwork. Got to meet a bunch of really talented and amazing people, three new participants in my project, and continued the ever so important task of ‘making connections’ in the local art community. Check out their website for more information.
This week is short, since a whole gang of us CCAD’ers are off to Baltimore for the 2014 Society for Photographic Education national conference, always a great time – though I assume I’ll be a little tired of the awe-inspiring geekdom that is the photography community at large.
Will be back with more after/during our trip!
The students have been continuing to learn printing techniques and how to deal with the proper settings for printing images via Photoshop. They have learned to print contact sheets, test prints and full-blown enlargements, which will be due on Monday along with the beginning of our first critiques of their ‘Time’ project. I am excited to see what the students come up with to tackle such a broad subject matter, I’m sure a room of creative types, photo majors or not, will come up with very exciting ways to portray the passage and representation of time. Shannon went to Chicago for the 2014 CAA conference, so I got left in charge of overseeing the midterm test and making sure they had the grasp of printing down. There were some bumps in the road with printing, mainly with figuring out proper printer and paper profiles, but all is well. Got to grade the midterm tests which was a fun exercise in being a real-life teacher, always good practice using that doomed red pen! This week we have been creating a syllabus for our Teaching Methods class based on a class we would want to teach as teachers ourselves. I’ve been in the process of creating a black & white film-based introductory photography class, since I still feel the best way to learn the medium is starting with film (maybe because it is how I was taught, but it just feels right). More to come, really loving this!