Behind the mask.


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.

About briancooney123

HOW I GOT HERE Of course, I wasn’t always a full time photographer. I spent a lot of time in the corporate world. I had a job which paid well, but just didn’t excite me. I remember the day when I had had enough. Enough of selling myself short, enough of dreaming too small, enough of doing what others expected of me. I had put away my dreams and told myself I would get back to them later, but somehow there always seemed to be something else that had to get done first. A friend of mine had recommended I take the NLP Business Practitioners course, and although I was really busy, I decided to do it. During that time, I began to imagine the different paths my life could take from here. While I had a hazy picture of what this other life might look like, I had a clear picture of where my current life was going if I didn’t change. It was a scary moment, a bit like standing on the edge of a cliff deciding whether to jump into the great unknown or stay on the cliff, safe but trapped. I jumped. The transition to the life I wanted was challenging The transition to the life I wanted was challenging but I would never go back. After that day I resolved to do what I love, to follow my bliss.  Picking up a camera after several years away, I found that many things had changed, the digital age had arrived. In the intervening years, I was too busy to pay any attention to my photography, and occasionally when I took something I really liked, I would think “how do some photographs seem so captivating and others leave me completely cold?” I knew this is what I was meant to do Somehow though, I knew this is what I was meant to do. I dedicated myself to learning everything I could about being a photographer. I took many, many courses and I read every book I could get my hands on, I still do. Since then, I have dedicated myself to helping other creative photographers achieve the results they want. And what a journey it has been. Last year I qualified as a coach. My main area of interest is creativity and helping others to express their vision. WHAT I BELIEVE Along the way, I’ve learnt that there are no rules. Experiment, explore, play. My advice is to make your art from your heart, not for the praise or the money.  Lighten up. It’s important to take your photography seriously, but it's a mistake to take yourself too seriously. Finally, you get what you want when you never, ever give up so enjoy every minute of it and just do it!
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3 Responses to Behind the mask.

  1. niice, love the ending shots….especially the last 3 (ps, the metranome gets the point across, but its a bit annoying…lol)

  2. forgot to add, that it’s so clear and apparent how time stops at the end, with only the birds to welcome him home….:)

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