Reflection: Using Image and Text

My work doesn't have any kind of political agenda or a narrative. I would go as far to say that my work for BoW was borne out of a diverse group of influences such as street art, sculpture, Bauhaus and East Asian art. It brings together physical and meditative acts as discussed by David Campany in his essay Physical Space, Image Space, Psychical Space (2018). But it has also contextually evolved through the academic theory I have read, and reflected upon during this module.

It is also fair to conclude that if I was not theoretically challenged I may have continued to pursue the safer ground of photographing the Asian landscape through a graphical, Western minimalist eye.

Fig. 1.  Camera Recording its Own Condition (7 Apertures, 10 Speeds, 2 Mirrors)  (1971)

Fig. 1. Camera Recording its Own Condition (7 Apertures, 10 Speeds, 2 Mirrors) (1971)

As I noted previously on sequencing, my work is not narrative based. One consideration how I could title my work could be a descriptive text that covers the what, such as in the conceptual work of John Hilliard (see fig. 1.). Conceptual photography, the genre in which my BoW broadly sits, is a framework which a photograph (or series of) adheres to. I consider the framework in my BoW to be something that maintains a consistency in approach and do not wish to influence the viewers encounter through words. I reflected previously on the potential levels of meaning that could be construed from viewing the work undertaken for BoW. I am not interested in asserting a specific point of view on how my work should be seen, on the contrary I consider this way of seeing a success if it has a wide appeal, with a multiplicity of ways it can be read, reflecting on the variety of influences, with the desire and as such can act as a facilitator of ‘encounter’.

Therefore my use of text in titling individual work will depend less on the what, and through and indexing or cataloguing system more on the where and when. Like the previous exercise I made some notes from books how text is applied and what may be of use to me.

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Concluding the reflection I wrote about Seascapes (Sugimoto, 2015) about sequencing, text here simply applies a notion of time and place which purveys a sense of scale when scanning the totality of the series. This simple form of indexing covers the two main factors in my recent interventions work in the public space; where and when. The where I seek to address in the initial caption, e.g. Jamaica Street. Perhaps if this series expands I could consider a more detailed captioning of Jamaica Street, Liverpool, UK. 2019. The when I index by hand on the individual shadowgram prints which could be seen to authenticate my ‘presence’ and without words, construct a “…serialisation of places.” (Kwon, 1997, p.106).

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The serialisation is only time-orientated (#yyyymmddmmhh). In essence the prints occupy a place like a street artists calling to proclaim ‘I was here’ but with the evidential note of stating ‘this image happened here at this time’. Without the presence of explanation, the viewer, can choose what, if any meaning, can be determined for themselves.

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What is interesting is that this kind of spatial-temporal indexing has been applied in one of my primary inspirational references to creating the shadowgram technique. In The Photograms (Moholy-Nagy, 2009), all the photograms are indexed and regarded as untitled, with captioning again offering little more than the technical data of place, time and specifications of the work.

Furthermore, in a small selection of books about Korean landscape; the subject of my major writing project for CS. Each photographer also has a specific indexing system for their series. Both Weed (Min, 2006) and Windscape (Bae, 2012) initial the series of the work together with the negative number and year of creation. Lost Landscapes (Joo, 1993), similarly to Seascapes, simply titles the place and year.

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While this text (or lack thereof) provides minimal information in which to distort the viewers interpretation of the work, it could be argued that it is ultimately informative, as it covers sufficed spatial-temporal data that is not present in the images themselves. Given that these largely meditative landscapes contain philosophical connotations (particularly for the East Asian reader), words would just get in the way of the perceived sense of psychical space the viewer can get lost in (Campany, 2018).

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Contrasting this with the photo-essay Workers (Salgado, 1993) which is conveying a direct message, there is no captioning or text, even to identify the people in the photographs which Salgado has accrued such acclaim for. The total lack of information here is perhaps more jarring in photographs that contain peoples faces and working conditions. The photographs are visually arresting and powerful on their own, but there is a sense of too little information regarding the plight of the individuals in the images, something Salgado was largely criticised for as a form of exploitation by Susan Sontag in Regarding the Pain of Others (2003).

Thankfully this is not something I need to contend with in my BoW and a kind of indexing system, as outlined above seems to be the most constructive way for me to inform, without seeking to intrude on the viewers interpretation. Perhaps the use of text will be more relevant in how my future artist statement will take into account this developed way of seeing.


References

Bae, Bien-U (2012) Windscape. Germany: Hatje Cantz Verlag.

Campany, D (2018) ‘Physical Space, Image Space, Psychical Space’ In: davidcampany.com At: https://davidcampany.com/physical-space-image-space-psychical-space/ (Accessed on 04.12.18)

Joo, Myungduck (1993) Lost Landscapes. Kyoto: Kyoto Shoin ARM.

Kwon, M (1997) ‘One Place after Another: Notes on Site Specificity’. In: October, Vol.80(1), pp 85-110

Min, Byunghun (2006) Weed. Seoul: Homi Publishing House.

Moholy-Nagy, L (2009) The Photograms. Catalogue Raisonné. Germany: Hatje Cantz Verlag.

Salgado, S (1993) Workers. New York: Aperture.

Sontag, S (2003) Regarding the Pain of Others. London: Penguin.

Sugimoto, Hiroshi (2015) Seascapes. Bologna: Damiani.


List of Illustrations

Figure 1. Hilliard, J (1971) Camera Recording its Own Condition (7 Apertures, 10 Speeds, 2 Mirrors) [Photograph] At: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/hilliard-camera-recording-its-own-condition-7-apertures-10-speeds-2-mirrors-t03116 (Accessed on 09.07.19)