Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Term 2: Portfolio Contextual Questions // Portfolio Series

What were you thinking about when you made this work?
I wanted to create a series with a narrative, something familiar yet sureal. The idea initially started out as a series of situations I had seen on the side of the road which I wanted to recreate in a slightly more styled fashion. However this initial idea wasn't surreal and was probably more documentary in style. The content straightforward and obvious. These situations I'd seen on the street and noted down  with the aim of recapturing what I had seen in during the glimpse driving by.  But the individual set-ups became too difficult to stage and execute to the level that I felt I was ready and able. After the first test shoot I decided I wanted to simplify and draw on my skills as a storyteller and work with more of a linear narrative approach by using one model and capturing one story. But I needed to get clear on the story. I decided to stick with the idea of the side of the road but moved it closer to the house, getting closer to the door I started to think about about reasons why someone would knock on a door at night. I considered the situations I myself have had to knock on the door of a house at night alone. It's always rather unnerving. So, I started asking questions. Did they know who was behind the door? Are they excited about answering the door? Is it a rendevouz with a lover? The fear of knocking on someone's door goes back to childhood (for me at least) when one was forced to ask about a ball on the other side of the fence or drop off something to your grandmothers friend. For some reason there was always a fear surrounding the experience, maybe you would get told off or it wouldn't be the person you expected to answer the door. So, I wanted to explore these feelings in a situation that included night, isolation, expectations and 'the worst that could happen', or at least the idea of 'the worst that could happen'.

What was going on in the world and did any of these events influence your thinking at the time?
There are a lot of things going on in the world but nothing in particular that influenced this work. I do watch far too many terribly made crime tv shows (secret shame) and I'd say the content of these had a decent affect on the subject matter of the series.

What photographic genre and sub genre (if applicable) does your work fit into?
Fine Art - Staged Photography

Who are your photographic influences? What photographic genre do these photographers fit into?
Gregory Crewdson / Fine Art Photography
Jeff Wall / Fine Art Photography
Alex Prager / Fine Art Photography

What ideas or techniques do you take from these photographers into your own work? 
Crewdson did a whole series of images taken at twilight, this was one of the initial inspirations for this series and something I will continue to work with. I really like the idea of creating an image at a time of day when the light and moment seems more fleeting, like life itself. Crewdson also creates images that seem to take place just after and just before an event. The event doesn't have to be huge and in fact Crewdson seems to focus more on the personal and often suburban tragedy. I wanted to use the street where I live to create a similar feeling with the goal to keep it lighter in mood. Due to the way in which Crewdson works (at twilight with continuous low lighting) his images hold little movement, the long exposures mean the character's moments often feel very held. This was a quality I initially toyed with but realised wasn't something that felt right for me. I want to explore more movement and forward moving emotion or reaction.
Wall's work with 'micro-gestures' appealed to my instincts as an actor, the tiny moments when the truth between people becomes apparent. This would have been more suited had the series focused on interconnecting relationships or images that stood alone. One of my initial ideas was to show a father and son mowing the lawn outside the front of their house, the father moves towards the son to keep him mowing with his plastic toy mower on the footpath and out of the way of the dangerous mower. A brief moment of survival and nurture in a suburban setting.
Coming across Prager was a happy accident; her colour, movement, surrealism, female subjects and emotion driven images have pushed the concept of my series to find consistent colour, subject matter and a clear journey. Her style has helped me to look at the influences of her and Crewdson and forced me to question the 'why' in my own series. From her work I have taken her use of red, highly styled subjects, sense of humour and movement. It was also through her work that I have begun researching colour theory.

Are you influenced by artists working in other disciplines? 
The compositional work of Alfred Hitchcock in his films clearly influenced Prager and Crewdson. His obsession with the dark side of what humans are capable of and where their fears lie. Hitchcock knew that fear generally comes from the unknown, not showing everything all at the same time and sometimes not showing it at all. He also knew that it's nice to dress and style beautiful women and then put them in danger!

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