The title of this piece isn’t as bleak as one might first imagine. Simply words that make laughable sense with context.
As a quick task at university, we were given the brief to create something in Adobe Photoshop, using original images taken by ourselves or images pulled from the internet, inspired by what we’ve so far been taught since arriving on the course.
I’ve always had a strong interest in mixing media, as well as a desire to sometimes neglect editing beyond the point of the pressing the shutter. This has shown in previous works on mine, namely my final artefact for my photography module while studying at City College Plymouth; I which I used a slow shutter and a pulled zoom technique to create a distorted photo without the use of any softwares. My final submissions were the same as when the light hit the sensor.
Having earlier read the first chapter of After Photography, I was inspired to challenge the author after I read “analog ages and rots, diminishing over generations… the photograph is always one generation removed, fuzzier, not the same; the digital copy of the digital photograph is indistinguishable so that the “original” loses its meaning” (Ritchin, 2008:17).
My second source of inspiration came from an unlikely place.
Our local newspaper – and I can imagine many local newspapers have a similar practice – send photographers to the nightclubs every weekend. Their aim is simple, take hundreds on snaps of party revelers, and display these images online, with a handful of the best making in through to print the following Friday morning.
Lately, The Plymouth Herald has been bringing photos out of the archive and placing the albums on their social media page. Very recently they have been republished photos from the mid to late naughtiest (00’s). Around about the sometime that I began to hit the clubs. Fear and intrigue lead me to looking through these photos, hoping not to find any of myself, but praying to find an embarrassing one of close friends. On both accounts, there were no photos found, so I turned my attention to the comments section, and there a comment stood out from the rest; “how strange is it that no one is pouting?”.
These two quotes became the fuel for my idea.
I wanted to show how a digital photo could decompose, and I also wanted to show how our relationship with the camera has changed over time. Candid photos from events – in my opinion – often look better that the photos of people who are aware of the photo being taken. Striking a pose as soon as we’re faced with a camera has almost become second nature. This falsehood rips through the reality of the time/event, with many people opting to throw the same pose no matter the occasion.
I first began with taking a photo of a classmate with a blank expression, no ‘pose’. Next, I projected this photo beside him and took another photo, this time, again with a blank expression but throwing the kind of pose you’re likely to see in the post Instagram era.
I really like the results, but I for some reason I thought that the subject had to be me.
The weekend prior, I had dropped a sign on my face – long but funny story – which resulted in me sporting a black eye. All week I had been secretly hoping that none of the tasks would involve a self-portrait, or anything that would expose my face. This coupled with ‘freshers flu’ had left in feeling in a worn down state, almost sucking the enjoyment out of that week altogether.
Since starting this course, I’ve quickly learned that I prefer the consequences when my creative work is impulsive. Staying true to my desire to fully explore art, I resolved to act upon this impulse and not shy away from my fears of feeling exposed.
I repeated a similar process to when I photographed Danny. Simply because I thought there was some merit to the original concept. However, this time I was alone in the room, with just the equipment (including remote shutter) and Benjamin Clementine playing through my iPhone.
Admittedly, I did stray away from the notion of no digital manipulation – just a little. My final artefact contains 2 actual images, but I’ll leave it to you to decide where one ends and the other begins.
Ritchin, F. (2008) After Photography. New York: W.W. Norton.