WEEK 8: SUPERVISOR SESSION (W/ SHANE)
Language of Creative Research: R A T I O N A L E
In my master’s project, I seek to explore the complexity of the psyche and meaning through photography. More specifically, art and fashion photography are the two key areas of inquiry for this practice-based research in which I am exploring layers of personality and facets of psychological states. This is an open-ended investigation based on the Interpretive Paradigm as described by James Scotland (“Reality is individually constructed; there are as many realities as individuals”), utilizing intuition as a methodology.
The philosopher and mathematician Charles Parsons, in his essay On Some Difficulties Concerning Intuition and Intuitive Knowledge, “sees intuition as providing access to mathematical or abstract objects rather than mathematical truths” (Symons 2008). Applied to my photography, the aim is not to find the one truth or the one reality, but access to the subject of inquiry.
“[T]he individual depends on others to know him or herself. I must look to others to see myself, to know myself, literally to find myself. It is only through the responsive actions of others that I can, for example, see my seeing” – Jack Katz
The clothes the people in the photographs wear stand for one layer of representation. They are wrapped around their bodies, like a second skin. “[R]eminding us that they are part of us and our identity” (Varcoe). The garments are one-offs, handmade, and with a photograph, for example, of themselves printed onto them.
The second layer is the person, acting as a fashion model, in a location representing another layer. And all those elements or layers added together in a photograph are an attempt to show a ‘more complete’ picture.
Through photographing others, friends of mine, they become a representation of myself. And the project becomes a representation of my self.
Just like Dutch artist Liza May Post, who also works with other people in her video installations and photographs in a representational way. “[H]er characters are the projection of an inner state. By this she is referring to that Jungian shadow that represents the sum of all the qualities that we try to repress and conceal within our individual and collective unconscious.”
Each of my friends provokes a different angle of view, showing different personalities, different layers of psychological states, which is what I am seeking to capture in this project.
As the American sociologist Erving Goffman points out in his book The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, we naturally play different roles in front of different people, “allowing … to be a different person in each role”. I am investigating individuality, observing facets of a personality, and how diverse it can be in different contexts.
“I do believe that in this physical, space-time world of our experience there are things which do not fit the grammatical scheme of expression. … But they are not necessarily blind, inconceivable, mystical affairs; they are simply matters which require to be conceived through some symbolistic schema other than discursive language.” – Susanne Langer
Why this photographic investigation? Overall, it is all an attempt of understanding – an effort to find a narrative to make sense of things and find meaning. I use photography to raise questions and thoughts as a form of expression and a form of catharsis.
I investigate the same themes (psyche and meaning) from different angles in my practice-based research over the whole master’s program. I explore, investigate, and repeatedly work on the same questions to get access to a deeper level of understanding.
On a formal level, my pictures ask the same questions: Fragmented images and close-ups allow only to see part of the whole. But force to look closer. Reflections on mirrors ask what else cannot be seen, what else lies outside the frame. But can also provoke a brief irritation. Layers that are visible through glass or water surfaces are an attempt to explore more dimensions than a two-dimensional photograph can provide.
Like in my photography, reflections, shapes, and human bodies are also key elements of Viviane Sassen’s work. The contemporary Dutch photographer uses these elements repeatedly, in similar but slightly distinct ways. And adapts these techniques later in her fashion photography.
F E E D B A C K
Writing is a challenge. But my writing highlights that I'm not clear about the nature of my work and the context in which the work is being produced. Suppose I was clear on that the writing became accessible. Because we haven't landed (or we do, and then it shifts, etc.) on that, writing is uncomfortable.
During my studies, I constantly feel like I'm lying. Because I have to write things as if they were resolved, but they are not (I haven't done the work yet or have not finalized it). And Shane can see that in my writing.
Shane doesn't believe that I'm actually searching for the complexity of the psyche and meaning. They might be subcategories.
The most interesting part of the project is that the people wear the photographs. The photographs are not just on the wall. But turned into clothes and worn and again photographed. And that's enough.
> Start with the process (Shane doesn't often suggest that).
> Fashion can be used to visually explore or interpret the multi-facetted nature of someone's psyche.
Jan Nelson is very clear that artwork is always about the artist themselves. They only use others to represent themselves. Really? Always?
Shane: Easy. All you have to do is to say that I'm making fashion photographs and not art. Therefore it has to be about the person.
> Read more about contemporary fashion photography. How do they see subject and representation?
Roland Barthes: 3way conversation of photographer, subject, and viewer. Are all equal? The subject takes on a different persona if they are aware that they are photographed. That adds another layer. > Interrogating the notion of the photograph itself. In the context of a photograph itself, how much is projected? How much is interpreted?
William Mitchell's commentary about the horse: You cannot paint a horse in particular. The horse does not have to exist. But to photograph a horse, it has to exist.
Susan Sontag: Observations. A guy turns the camera into a gun. When he photographs people at the moment of their death. (Peeping Tom)
> What am I doing? What is the methodology and process that I am using? Why am I doing it? What am I searching for?
> Quick, sharp investigation into core theoretical discourses that live within contemporary fashion photography.
> How does that relate to Operator, Subject, Spectator?
> As a result of doing that, I am seeking to explore/investigate the notion of the Interpretive Paradigm (reality is individually constructed, there are as many realities as individuals).
The photograph and the printing, the uniqueness of each of these things (also the clothes that I make), are specific to the singular person. So, it keeps coming back to that subject. And that concept of the subject and their photographed self. What is the true self of someone? How do they know it and recognize it? By compounding the self onto the self (clothes with photographs on the person) continues to interrogate that complex nature of how someone seeks to be seen (consciousness of how we want to be seen > which is not necessarily who we are). > Rationale: I am trying to work out ways of photographically revealing the true self.
Limitations of photography: index, time, 2D, etc.
In fashion photography: ID Magazine from the 1980s and 90s. Head-to-toe photographs instead of studio and only facial expression. That's how heroin chic was developed.