One thing I have been enjoying playing with so far in still life is the difference between projection and illumination. Casting a shadow in one situation and illuminating out of the shadow in another. I have used two subjects: a man made object and a plant. What I find interesting in both of these situations is that shape and form are present in the signifier (what it is). But by way of lighting what is signified can be altered via projection.
Often when preparing a still life, the operator tries to manipulate the scene so that the spectator cannot identify the subject has been artificially lit. A source of inspiration for me was in recalling Lee Jungjin's Thing series (see fig. 1.) who displace light sources, the object is suspended without spatial awareness. Much of Lee's work is moulded, sculpted, which is natural as her education is in ceramics. The textural quality of Lee's work is something I admire and something I keep in mind regarding output. How I wanted to diverge from Lee's work is to come back to the purpose of shadow.
The two examples I have prepared are lit by one and two artificial sources. In both cases the projected shadow of the object is a reproduction of the objects form. It is also a shadow cast from the point of view of the light source(s) which is amplified or suppressed by its direction and distance. The visual illusion I enjoy here in an image is that depending on how you light the subject (not how you frame it), but the source of illumination is what creates its shadow impression and thus its dynamic presence. The reaction of the spectator is then a response to how the subject is projected as much as what the subject is.
They have a modernist look which naturally interests to me, but carry a meaning that goes beyond aesthetic appeasement. This 'dynamic space' (Kepes, 1944/2012, p.98) between formulation and emotional interaction is the search I engage with. One that seeks to create “a meeting between the actual and the imaginary, where each adds to, rather than detracts from, the power of the other.” (Howells, 2011, p.200).
In the Language of Vision, Kepes states that “We perceive spatial relationships only when light is intercepted by some medium.” (Kepes, 1944/2012, p.134). Natural light is something that is both ritual and temporal. I observed this during my last module documenting a James Turrell Skyspace. Even from the confines of my own home it is something to appreciate if I take the time to stop and observe.
Shadow and surface is something I enjoy exploring both indoors and outdoors. Less of a ritual but more a response, like a compositional training exercise. But I often wonder what would happen if those moments were immortalised, at there point of origin. Showing that light/shadow experience is a memory of space and time. That is something I might consider in my next experiment.
Howells, R (2011) Visual Culture. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Kepes, G (1944/2012) Language of Vision. USA: Literary Licensing, LLC.
Lee, J (no date) Available at: http://www.jungjinlee.com (Accessed on 23.08.18).
List of illustrations
Figure 1. Lee, J (2003) Thing 03-02 [Photograph] At: http://www.jungjinlee.com/thing (Accessed on 23.08.18)