FINAL MAJOR PROJECT. WEEK 15.

UNTITLED. James Bellorini, August 2020.

Novelists sometimes talk about how characters take on lives of their own. Even as they are being written they guide the story and the writer ‘follows’. Or similarly, as theatre director Peter Brook puts it: ‘He is not making the music, it is making him’ (Brook, 1968, pg. 47). On reflection, something similar has been occurring for me over the past few weeks.

As a result of the confusion over my project work that I’ve written about elsewhere in my CRJ, I threw out strategies and ideas I had been holding onto too tightly. Instead I chose to play. To have fun. To reconnect with the joy of image making that had become lost in the study process. Consequently I have found an unexpected freedom. My instinct to move forward by focusing less on outcome has elicited a restless, anarchic energy in my process that I find suits me and the work. This, in turn, feeds my instinct more. Creating a kind of feedback loop similar to that of the novel writing experience.

Something more honest has been born in my work and in my process. This reveals to me the enigma of photographic and creative practice: that it cannot be totally controlled and, indeed, responds better if it isn’t.

As David Campany says: ‘It is in the nature of images, all images, to misbehave and exceed meaning in ways that are anarchic, elusive, enigmatic, and ambiguous… they remain wild, and therefore have always been a source of great fascination, and great suspicion.’ (Campany, 2020, pg.32). From my recent experiences then, I know that images and image-making beg for this liberty. And I must court this energy of misbehaviour in both my approach to making work and also the potential reception of it. It is part of a process of stepping away from any preconceived notion of being a ‘serious’ photographer and entertaining (no pun intended) the clown, or trickster, in me. And here I mean clown not just as jester, but also as one of those ‘tellers of truth, subversives in society’ (Contemporary Clowning Projects website n.d.); clown as ‘mode of critical commentary’ (Salami, 2020, pg. 44).

I wrote in my previous post that a creator cannot help but infuse their work with distinct elements of their character. If they attempt to deny this, the work will not be complete or realized. It is this that clarifies a creative voice. That might seem like an obvious thing to say but, in my case, I am aware that I have at times only been dipping my toe into those waters. Working as a commercial photographer trains one out of the investment of the personal in most of that work. Skills and vision will be compromised by the needs of the client and brief. That’s fine. That’s what the job is. My FMP journey has been one where I have had to go deeper. To confront and accept who and what I am as a photographer and person. To create space for the characteristics of my self and what I want to seek in my work. A sense of joy. Pleasure. The ability of photography to be a sensuous medium. A desire to Up-end preconceptions and rules (both imposed and self-imposed). And, even more personally, to counter grief and loss through playfulness and life: ‘The most we can say of the function that is operative in the process of image-making or imagination is that it is… a function of play – the ludic function…’ (Huizinga, 1949, pg. 25).

This might be one step closer to achieving what I set out to achieve when I began this M.A.: discovering my photographic voice.

REFERENCES AND RESOURCES

BOOKS

Brook, P. 1968. The Empty Space. (2nd Ed). London, Penguin.

Campany, D. 2020. On Photographs. London, Thames and Hudson.

Huizinga, J. 1949. Homo Ludens. Ohio, Angelico Press.

Salami, M. 2020. Sensuous Knowledge. London, Zed Books.

WEBSITES

Contemporary Clowning Projects, Who We Are, viewed 7 October 2020. Available here: https://contemporaryclowningprojects.com/who.html