On my journey towards a degree with the Open College of the Arts I submitted a conceptual piece for the final assignment of a course called Digital Photography Practice. I was asked recently by someone about the piece and thought I would explain a little bit about my ideas behind it. If you would like to just skip the reading, the piece is at the bottom.
Here is the brief that I wrote for myself:
One day while looking at old photographs I came across one of myself taken when I was in my twenties. It made me reflect on how much my life, and as a result myself had changed since this image was taken. It’s not that I did not recognise that person in the photograph but I realise that I am no longer the same person. I want to use this assignment to explore this feeling. To try to see who I was, who I am and who I will be?
Among the themes it contains are childhood, identity, old age, pychoanalysis and death. I realise that some of these are not light hearted or happy but that appeals to me, I guess because they are subjects that affect us all. I see photography as a way to explore issues such as these just as it is a way for us to escape them for a moment by looking at a beautiful landscape.
Above is one of the images I used in the audio slideshow. One of the things I decided to deliberately do with these images was to use ambiguity. In other words to pose some unanswered questions and to allow different interpretations to be put on the meaning of it. This allows the person viewing the work to impose their own meaning on it. So with the image above, for me it is about questioning my own identity but for someone else it can something different.
The same is true of this image, it is difficult to know exactly what its meaning is, however we don’t just look at photographs, we read them, we interpret them. So when you looked at the two images above, not matter how briefly you couldn’t help trying to find a meaning in them. I am as interested as much in what it means for me as what interpretation a viewer would put on it and in fact since I completed the work and looked at it I can see several other interpretations.
I chose to display the images in an audio slideshow because as they grew in number they had a cinematic quality that I thought would suit a slideshow well. The sound plays a very important role too. Try watching TV with the sound turned down, you will get a better understanding of what I mean. The final caption is like a deliberate spanner in the works. Just when you think you know where the story is leading it goes somewhere else, into the great unknown, you might have to even go back to the start to look again. Let me know if you did or even if you didn’t. Any and all comments welcome. Here is the finished piece.