Thursday, 6 June 2013

"Tied" - a project derived from Assignment One

So, following the advice of Michael Atherton, my tutor, myself, and everyone else, I have been progressing a project that I began to play around with way back in February.  It's a derivative of the first assignment of the course, when I photographed the immediate surroundings of the Holme Valley, a somewhat rugged, rural theme, with an emphasis on the less immediately attractive aspects of this neighbourhood, the 'make-do-and-mend' approach to the tough life of hill farming.  A theme that has been attracting my attention, ever since I did that project about fifteen months ago, is the use of all manner of strings, wire, rope, electrical cables etc to fasten field gates.  It is absolutely endemic; almost every gate is tied at least once and sometimes several times.  Apart from the potential for a quirky set of interesting images, I saw the symbolic potential, in the 'make-do-and-mend' context, and also the metaphorical potential in a series entitled 'Tied'.  I already have about twenty different images, all taken within ten minutes walk of where I live (hence the derivation fromn Assignment One - Neighbourhood).  Here are just a few.

I find it an interesting project to progress, maybe as a final version of the submission for Assignment One; but I've been giving some thought to how the subject is best photographed.  The light, in all the above, is sunlight, creating its usual high contrasts, which doesn't work too badly at a purely aesthetic level in these examples, but would a softer, diffused, more even light be more appropriate, I ask myself.  That set me thinking about what I'm doing and what I'm trying to achieve - no surprise there, given my recent obsession with thinking! (Too much?)

The project is motivated, at least in part, by my interest in the way photography renders the insignificant significant.  These bits of string, wire, etc, are of no significance until I create a series that imbues them with symbolic and metaphorical purpose; and I'm proposing that I choose a most appropriate time of day and light, to say nothing of the choice of camera, lens, aperture, framing etc, etc.  Then I'm proposing to process my RAW files and present a series of images that maximise the chance that my reader will 'get it'.  Nothing new in any of that - and studying Barthes will remind me that, even after all of that work, the 'Reader' is the one who will interpret.

Which led me to want to comment as much on this process as on the subject itself - it's that 'thinking' getting to work again.  Which led me to explore another possibility.  What if I remove the insignificant aspects that I am trying to make significant?  What if I take them out of the image altogether?  What will that look like? What might it say?  So here is one I prepared earlier ...

Shades of Mishka Henner's "Less Americains", of course; but I find it interesting.  What about a book of these images with the 'cut-out' bits available at the end - as 'cut-outs' - so that the viewer can get involved and put them back together again!!  That would be plain silly, of course!  Hm!


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