This may be the most challenging assignment you’ve done so far, so take your time and don’t rush it. Thats what the documentation says. I seem to have a problem rushing any of the work on this course, with changing concepts, excess plans, and schemes.
The coursework asked for a staged or constructed image. This is generally how I would prefer to work anyway. It suits my lack of social skills in dealing with people, and my slow off the mark camera work. Rather than try and capture a moment as it happens, I prefer to think about, it structure it, restructure it, probably try and again and eventually take a picture. The only problem I have with the course so far is that I haven’t been able to go back and redevelop concepts I have had – because by nature the course moves forward.
The narrative I wanted to communicate clearly changed along the structure of the project – it usually does. It began really as a narrative on photography, playing with the concepts of staged, reality, fact. In her book On Photography, Susan Sontag continually tries to determine a place for photography as an art form. “The painter constructs, the photographer discloses” – she says – which I guess is true to some extent, but then here we are constructing. So if we are to construct an image, then we are like painters, and if we are painters then we construct totally – so that was my plan.
We live in an ‘alternative fact’ world at the moment. ‘Post truth’ I have heard it called. A world were statements are made, these statements turn out to be false, and knowing them to be false are made again. These works are structured – so are they real? or fabricated fiction? It is a question we now have to ask of our news, so why not of our photos and books?
Examining the world of structured images led me to first focus on the photographers one might expect – Wall, Sherman, Crewdson etc. The big guns. Due to the kids and a number of other issues, painted faces and clowns had appeared in other images I have put together during the course – which of course led to mentions of Sherman. Her famous clown series has been referenced to me before, and is one I am very aware of – I think I even have the book. This blurring of the lines between fact/ fiction – not so much about what is true and what is false, but more our perception of it. Photography by its nature as a ‘recording’ device, instills an element of ‘fact’ on what appears. The photograph is assumed to be true. We hear the story of Doubting Thomas, a criticism for a perceived lack of faith. This story never held much weight with me because I knew I would simply doubt – unless I saw it myself, but I would also have been a better believer if there had been a photograph. I know this to be true of myself – and I am pretty certain Thomas would have believed the photo too. Photos are facts – maybe.
Some notes from my physical log