Bill Henson’s work casts light towards on the ambivalent bodies of teenagers….. His work causes discomfort due to it
Anne Hardy’s photographic work focuses on interior spaces. Her work involves de-populated rooms suggesting surreal fictions. What really makes me hold her images in such regard is the power her work has to withhold the actual experience of the room allowing our relationship with it to be purely created in our imagination. I love the amount of room she makes in her photography…
The fact that Hardy creates her space from scratch means that every detail, colour, texture and their placement are accounted for and have been put there with some form of intention.
“But what is Hardy’s intention and does she achieve it?”
I think that for Hardy her intention is to evoke the surreal. This is achieved through the use of everyday objects such as with the image above balloons, white string and cigarette butts have all been incorporated within the frame but it is not the objects themselves that are of interest but the continuity of colour and how they are placed within the frame that adds a completely different visual dimension towards the final print.
In order to make the ordinary extra ordinary you have to bring emphasis. Hardy has achieved this through the repetition and the idiosyncrasies that appears throughout her images. The continuity of colours and shapes and even repetitive nature on where the objects are placed within the space.
With so much importance placed on attention to detail Hardys use of colour and product placement reminds me of the works of Jean-Pierre Jeunet whose visual style is also consistent but incorporates narrative. Each scene too has a familiar sense of repetitiveness through the use of a specific colour palette of warm reds and greens. As a viewer you become more visually engaged not just because it is visually stimulating but because the audience confuse the continuity with familiarity. It creates a universal genre without having to say it out loud such as with Amelie the colours and shapes that … throughout the film clearly indicate toward ‘quirky’.
In theatre a technique to subconsciously engage an audience from the start without the use of language would mean that focus would be turned towards the visual. Stereotypical characters would be introduced as they are automatically, universally and subconsciously recognised. This allows the audience to become engaged without becoming to attached and without much thinking involved.
Is this something Hardy has taken into account?
I question this because the way that the spaces are created involves a tremendous amount of pre-planning, it is not just thrown together. It also makes me question whether this ‘look’ is achievable as there are many external factors involved such as being on a student budget and conflicting time contraints. I also think Hardy topic area of surrealism is quite broad and leaves a lot of space for artistic interpretation whereas to create 10 spaces that each evoke a sense of paranoia would be quite tough because paranoia to me might be something different to someone else. Therefore my images could end up being misinterpreted with my project losing it’s depth and significance through this. Though further research of photographers I will be able to enrich my ideas and re-evaluate how Hardy’s work can be incorporated within my project.
Gregory Crewdson is renowned in the photography world for his beautifully staged intricate photographs, his images have a perfect mix of unease and allurement that fills the scene with power and expression. His images are set in suburban America and refer to the myths of Hollywood movies. I found myself taken aback when I realised the amount of time and work taken to shoot every image, but when you see his work you can even see that every minor detail has been thought over and constructed. Personally I find Gregory Crewdson more like a movie director than a photographer. His use of theatrical lighting design, enchanting elements as well as his belief in a broad narrative style developed on the tradition of staged photography makes his photographs so visually spectacular without losing any authenticity.
The Invisible Man – JEFF WALL
During the process of braining storming ideas surrounding the concept of staged photography and paranoia it was this image in particular that stuck the most interest. ….. (add in why? incorporates narrative —- subtext, structure, clarity…)
The image is titled “After ‘invisible man’ by Ralph Ellison, the prologue: 1999-2000”.
It is a recreation of a scene from Ellison’s 1952 Novel Invisible man, as the photo of the title suggests, a scene from the prologue:
“I sat on the chair’s edge in a soaking sweat, as though each of my 1,369 bulbs had every one become a klieg light in an individual setting for a third degree with Ras and Rinehart in charge.”
The unnamed protagonist, invisible to the world or at least to White New York in the fifties, sits bathed in light he stole from them, so bright from 1.369 bulbs (“I doubt if there is a brighter spat in all of New York than this hole of mine, and I do not exclude Broadway or Empire State Building on a photographer’s dream night,” he tells us”), and yet still no one can see him.
On creating this scene, Wall told the Guardian:
“Writers have it very easy. They have the pleasure of imagining these scenes. Working on that picture, I really learnt what Ellison’s 1,369 light bulb means. You can only have a few on at a time. I got to know that room well as the invisible man would have, had existed.”
The Invisible man continues:
“Perhaps you’ll think it strange that an invisible man should need light, desire light, love light. But maybe it is exactly because I am invisible. Light confirms my reality, gives birth to my form. A beautiful girl once told me of a recurring nightmare in which she lay in the centre of a large dark room and felt her face expand until it filled the whole room, becoming a formless mass while her eyes ran in bilious jelly up the chimney. And so it is with me. Without light I am not only invisible, but formless as well; and to be unaware of one’s form is to live a death. I myself, after existing some twenty years, did not become alive until I discovered my invisibility.”
The man is not basking in pure light, it is a sort of new truth or enlightenment made to manifest… He has a tremendous amount of physical, electrical power from a power source that literally runs the power structure behind New York. Yet no one knows.
Why Jeff Wall chose to illustrate this scene from Ralph Ellison’s book is unclear….(add in– like the idea of using plays, lit….. as a structure to elaborate on… text involving paranoia gives more depth …….)
Having researched further into Wall’s photographic work it did make me question: is staging elaborate photographs of scenes from great literature an art historical mis-step equivalent to filming and re-filming great literature? Is rehashing stories that exist only in our minds a mere cheap trick that gets our approval only because we’re proud of ourselves for recognizing something we’ve read about?
I think that Wall is an inveterate experimenter. His work shows qualities of both near documentary (re-enactments of real events) and cinematographic (scenes contructed from the artists imagination). I think Wall’s photographs are distinctive in the way that they capture a lenghth of time rather then just a moment as if time were frozen in crisp focus but is then allowed to linger. I like Wall’s use of creating claustrophobic and hermetic worlds of fantasy and strangeness within his images and how they all seem to resemble a time slowed down which is usually evoked by painting more than that typically captured in a snapshot.Photographers have often pursued what Henri-Cartier Bresson called the “decisive moment”. Wall doesn’t use the term because he finds the moment to be “so indecisive”. He is not much interested in “having my finger on the pulse”, as he puts it. Nevertheless, most of his work is set in the present or what he calls “a certain kind of now”.
In the image above (A sudden gust of wind) Wall has created the myth of a perfect moment where passers by are caught off guard when their belongings float by apparently swept up by the wind. The piece appears to refer back to documentary photography and the idea of a decisive moment and yet the spontaneity is an illusion and part of a staged tableau. When viewing the original light box you can almost see the strings holding the floating papers in place and the intervention of the photographer is clear due to the obvious impossibility of the composition.
I’m quite interested into looking into constructed realism within photography and seeing how I can somehow incorporate it into my project. The idea of creating a series of images that appears to document actuality when in fact they are completely fictional really appeals to me because it will enable me to have complete artistic freedom towards the developing, creating and processing of my images.
I want to examine closely how other photographic practitioners have adapted the techniques of ‘Staged Photography’….
The main aspect of staged photography that has attracted me to adopt this style is the attention to detail that goes into the production. I want to have a hands on relationship with every detail that goes into my imagery so I am able to control the volume of emotions that the image evokes. I want each object or thing to have a purpose or symbolic meaning to help give maximum emphasis to different subjective feelings of paranoia. However, I want my images to sense of realism and therefore I look how I can a ‘documentation’ effect within my images.
The film Amelie articulates my ideas on the importance of staging and attention to detail. This is because each scene reflects a particular personality through the control of colour, symmetry, lighting, object/product placement. I find it interesting how each film still has a sense of pure perfection and could easily be mistaken for a photograph, rather then moving image. I like the idea of being able to dictate the overall outcome as it allows me to manipulate and construct scenes in a controlled environment without time constraints, also allowing room for creativity.
The creation of staging within my series will hold equal importance towards the narrative as I will use this new control —– such as in order to evoke a sense of paranoid obsessiveness I will create a symbolic space using colors objects, lighting and their placement to encourage such emotions to surface but not in an obvious manner.