Informing Contexts - False Indexes
This weeks reading has come at a time of change for me as I put the images collated in the first module to one side and almost start a fresh with a new idea. In part this has been forced due to lockdown but also by a realisation that my initial project lacked a meaningful context and I wanted to push myself both in terms of photography but also my understanding of the photograph and how it is seen. As I read the articles on constructed realities a lot rang true for me as my new project will be based on still life photography and more importantly the meanings that sit behind them in reference back to the golden age of the Dutch painters.
I have become fascinated by the hidden meanings of these paintings, with apples, pears, lemons and whole host of other items all representing something. I am keen to explore this further and was concerned that I will have plenty of reading to do outside of the normal lesson plans. It was therefore a pleasant surprise when watching this week's lecture Hunters & Farmers that whilst many of the practitioners we not still life experts there are lots of similarities with how Jeff Hall and Gregory Crewdson prepare their shots with the time spent setting up a still life. For me a still life photograph is very much a constructed reality, everything put in its specific place. Equally I would suggest both Crewdson and Halls work is a form of still life.
Linking to the reference of hunters and farmers, I would say my practice is largely farmer based, as evidenced by my planning book, filled with sketches and ideas for future photoshoots but I do also take inspiration from other artists, painters and photographers.I was pleased to see that Julia Kristeva wrote about the intertextual relationship which connects text, including visual, and that many current images will have drawn influence from earlier work. Even back as far as 1859, Baudelaire spoke about art losing it's self-respect, with the painter becoming more and more inclined to not paint what he dreams but what he sees. I wonder if a 2021 Baudelaire would say photographers no longer photograph what they dream but what they see and copy from Instagram?
In looking at my practice and in answer to the question of providing two images, I would like to offer two new ones. Whilst both are likely to appear in the final work in progress they do illustrate a difference in terms of where my work is going.
This first image is clearly a bowl of blueberries and whilst I am happy with the final result in terms of composition and the addition of a texture layer to give it a painterly effect it does lack a degree of meaning and context. It is a still life, but why did I take it ? The simple answer is that I was influenced by other images of this type and wanted to use this as a means of practicing my technique but I had no reason that it was blueberries vs some other fruit.
My second image has been shot this week and hopefully illustrates my direction of travel. Having learnt about the meaning of fruit in paintings I was intrigued by the fact a lemon can symbolise the passing of time. I wanted to illustrate this in the form of a still life. The dark black shadows at the base of the image denoting our mortality back to the earth and the negative space above illustrating the emptiness after our passing. I will be really keen to know what you all think of this image and whether you can see this, or indeed something else entirely.
Nasrullah Mambrol (2016). Julia Kristeva: Intertextuality. [online] Literary Theory and Criticism. Available at: https://literariness.org/2016/03/22/julia-kristeva-intertextuality/.
Wall J & Galassi P 2007 - Jeff Wall Selected Essays & Interviews NY Moma
1.Still Life with Cheeses, Artichoke, and Cherries, Clara Peeters ca. 1625
2. Blue - Steve Rabone 2020
3. Time - Steve Rabone 2021