Shooting into the sun

There is often something very revelatory about shooting into the sun, it allows a privileged view to areas not normally available – visual spectrums are distorted, illuminating perhaps normally darker places. I was drawn to the translucency of the protective casing that surrounds the sapling for two reasons: firstly it provides an ‘insight’ what is being protected and nurtured and secondly as a very visual metaphor for what this project is becoming about, more of that much later in the course I think.

I am considering colour versus monochrome and there have been a few reasons for me to consider what that choice means, or might mean for the significance of this work. Colour, we have been told, largely from it’s availability as a commercial option to photographers, tended to be used for commercial photography. Still we see references to monochrome work as a testament to veracity, stemming from the work of documentary photographers, photo’ journalists, those crusaders for truth and justice. Whether one believes/accepts those received notions is of course another matter. But I am curious to understand my perceptions on the use, or non-use, of colour.

I am acutely aware that the post processing of an image, specifically that of a digital image, is one of mutation. Ignoring the incontrovertible system of translating analogue light into a digital dimension, the subsequent conscious transliteration from a provided arbitrated text to a surreal text is one that interests me. Reading the Fundacion Mapfre 2014 exhibit catalogue of Vanessa Winship’s retrospective I became interested not only in the beauty and narrative(s) that have been assembled – I have been a fan of her work for some years now – but her continued determination to work in monochrome. It may be that she works only in film and that monochrome working, perhaps especially ‘in the field’ might be easier that attempting to work in colour, but she has spoken many times of her practice of working with large format cameras and how that alters the way by which she works, so I am unsure about the medium.

It may be that these books have used the same printer/base paper combination, but when I examine similar images from say ‘she dances on Jackson’ and from the exhibition catalogue the tones are remarkably consistent albeit the catalogue paper has a sheen that isn’t present on the monograph. I am interested because of the fictions that are constructed. That ‘conversion’ into monochrome is now accepted, I would suggest, to be a artifice (perhaps even when it is black and white film as the recording means?), a very obvious and purposeful fiction from one – normally seen as ‘normal’ – perspective to one that is a clear fabrication. In other words if I want to be clear to my viewer that I am not purposefully attempting to write a document, not wanting that reader to be confused about discerning a truth, that clearly any sense of verisimilitude will have been washed away with any trace of colour? The reader should not be confused about what I am presenting, it is a fiction and one of the clearest indications of that is to demystify it by the purposeful use of monochrome.

Winship’s narratives aren’t linear, the route isn’t from page one to the end, there are no chapters, no segueing of the narrative line, one can enter anywhere and work the imagery from whichever direction seems fit, as Carlos Martin Garcia writes in the introductory essay for the exhibition catalogue “…It is here that we find the foundations of a optic gaze that avoids the presentation of specific contexts or any direct involvement of her work in debates of immediate political significance.” p11. And in that same essay Garcia quotes Winship as saying (about her use of monochrome) “.. My images of course are made from life and the people in them are not actors or models as such. Black and white is a wonderful tool of abstraction. It enables us to move between time and memory.” p12. My project is about memory,  certainly re-situated, fictionalised and mediated via time.

I am in the process of creating an edit of the images I have made so far. All the ones that I present will be in colour, although I am making monochrome alternatives as well as altogether different images in monochrome. I am very conscious that my fictions are fabrications, non indexical and perhaps impenetrable thus far, my task is to try and find a way that will communicate with an audience – even if that intercourse bares little, if any , resemblance to my story!


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