So we’ve been looking at what other practices, disciplines, and media support or compliment our own work and practice. Expressly, we were asked to find examples of these that we feel resonate with us.
In the first instance, what came up for me related to silence/solitude/meditation (which I guess is a discipline?): how can I step back from stimulus in order to understand where I’m at with my practice or a client brief, and thereby find a way to keep going with it or to renew the understanding of what I’m doing. Maybe I connect with this as a ‘discipline’ because I’m an introvert by nature. But beyond that, it is a necessary part of seeing afresh (or seeing at all). I’m not sure if many photographers meditate, but I think that the ability to be alone and engage in a silent dialogue with the self and the world is important for my practice for sure.
Discussion Piece: What Pieces From Other Disciplines Relate To My Work?
This is like Desert Island Discs for me: where does one begin with the many possibilities of this question? It took me a (pleasurable) few hours to go through what examples from other disciplines inspire me. So many pieces of work from all kinds of disciplines that came up for me, to be honest – from music (lots of electronica) to snippets of poetry (Rainer Maria Rilke kept coming up for me), and even a couple of quotes from Shakespeare’s Macbeth…
“The work of the eyes is done. Go now and do the heart-work on the images imprisoned within you.”Rainer Maria Rilke
In the end, I settled on the painting The Calling Of St Matthew by Caravaggio for a number of reasons.
Firstly, it is a very personal image to me as it touches on aspects of my journey with my (half) Italian heritage. Not in terms of the content of the image, but the struggle I’ve had throughout my life with what it means to have that heritage and background. There are so many cultural and artistic elements of the country that have literally taken my breath away (if you’ve ever seen a Caravaggio in-situ you’ll know what I mean). Yet there are aspects of the culture, and my personal contact and experiences with those aspects, that I’ve struggled deeply with and never quite answered for myself or my family. Even more so regarding where the country is currently politically and socially. Though that is not exclusive to Italy at the moment, it’s become a symbol of so much polarisation and backward thinking, and I wonder if it is a mirror for our times.
On the other hand, this image embodies everything I seek to touch on with my work and practice in more obvious ways: the quality of light and it’s meaning to image making; composition and movement; story, character, and energy across the frame. There’s also the attention to detail: the depth of curiosity and ability to see that is almost supra-human. This comes out in the gestures and the drama/narrative held within those gestures. Even wider is the sense of scale (a lot of Caravaggio’s paintings are huge, which I love), the sensation of the epic within the everyday.
Interesting note: Caravaggio used a form of projection or ‘camera obscura’ at times for his paintings – could this be a possible element of my project? Not just that, but he used a rudimentary form of photography to ‘fix’ images onto the canvas before painting them.
Other disciplines which I’ve experimented with are graphic design. Deliberately moving away from the people populated images I often shoot commercially, and simplifying and refining an image down to light, colour, and/or shape.
Being brutally honest I’ve closed this week out concerned about my project thinking in general and wondering if I’m hitting teething issues etc.
For the past 6 years I’ve predominantly been a client-based commercial photographer. Consequently, I’ve found this week’s assignments both inspiring and challenging. However, to delve as deeply as some people evidently have into their alternative motivations and inspirations for their photography is something that is slightly alien to me – I don’t have to do that on a regular basis. Consequently, at yesterday’s group webinar (my first), I found talking about my work very difficult. I don’t feel that I have the level of sophistication and depth that some people evidently do. I actually felt a bit of an imposter! I wonder if this is a common thread for those of us who are more used to treating photography as a job? That in-depth critical analysis is not such a necessary skill to creating a product/fulfilling briefs etc? Or rather, a different type of analysis is needed there perhaps?
I’m challenged by my ability to go deeper, especially in the light of the context that many people are already creating work from. I don’t have a defined interdisciplinary practice, I tend to play with ideas, get excited by them, explore them and then move on! Guess I need to expand my practice to use these other disciplines and critical contexts that are currently not strong enough in my work. Whoosh!!
SCRAPBOOK AND OTHER CONSIDERATIONS
Pareidolia: seeing patterns in random things or data. Often this is interpreted as seeing faces in clouds etc. I realize I do this a lot. Is there something here to consider?
RESEARCH: Caravaggio’s projection techniques – research and engage with projection in other forms (extend experiments begun with my 2018 Brighton Fringe commission). Physics and chemistry. Camera obscura.
Stereograms are also still appealing.
Italy. Identity. History. Form and subject complimenting each other.
Then there’s this. Almost chosen as my piece from another discipline/media form: