250mc – Development

Although I had a working subject I did not have a solid idea on how I wanted to represent it or what it was I wanted to say about it. I knew I wanted to take a snap shot into our lives and I wanted this to be at a time when we felt most secure.

At this time I really needed to consider my audience and who this work was aimed at. I also needed to decide if I was going to use a sequence of images, a single still image taken from my research or if I was going to use that research to construct a specific posed image. Nothing was grabbing me as an obvious choice so I needed to research deeper and take advice.

After talking through my project with Anthony Luvera  I decided to experiment with the idea of people’s behaviour when they are alone. Once we are away from prying eyes we relax and allow the side of our personality to surface that we do not show anyone else. Couple this with a sexual voyeuristic concept I decided to create a series of posed stills to see how this may look.

Image by L Morley
Image by L Morley

Using the theme of masturbation as my topic I decided to create each image to reflect a person engaging in this act but I wanted it to be more implied than explicit.

Image by L Morley
Image by L Morley

I found an erotic image and sat the subject in front of the screen then posed them in such a way to imply that they where responding to the sexual stimulation derived from viewing the image. The above two images are very similar shot at slightly different angles. The first shows more of the persons face and I was not happy with the persons expression or gaze. I felt it lacked the emotion that a person truly engaged in such an act might show. The second image largely hides this but I still felt that it lacked the passion and enthusiasm I would have expected.

Image by L Morley
Image by L Morley

For the last image I decided to re-pose the person and this time they had moved away from the visual stimulation to engage in the sexual act elsewhere. I did this as I wanted to show a wider environmental perspective and also to experiment with the uses of light. I was not happy with the outcome as I felt this image had become to explicit and was more revealing than intended. I really wanted the viewer to figure things out and make their own connections and this was all too obvious.

Another problem with all these images was how truthful they were. I did not know if the person in the images actually used imagery for sexual stimulation or engaged in masturbation. I had also chosen to use heterosexual imagery as I wanted it to connect with a wider audience but the subject is actually homosexual and the choice of image would most likely have had no discernible effect.

Here I was now in a quandary about the honesty of the image. All imagery is a truth of sorts and for photographers like Gregory Crewdson then there does not have to be a relevance to the people in it and its up to the viewer to draw their own conclusions (Loh and Vescovi 2014) but I wanted mine to have a relevancy to both the subject and the viewer so I needed something that relates to both. After speaking with Caroline Molloy she advised me to carry on with my fly on the wall camera technique and see what comes from them but also to look at Jeff Wall. Here was an artist that spent time looking at scenes before deciding to recreate them. He speaks about  how he goes about recreating and in particular he begins by not photographing. What he is referring to is his method on observing a genuine scene, what interests him about it and what he feels it is saying. He then returns to the same location at a later date, this time with actors to recreate the scene he originally saw (Wall 2010).

(Wall n.d.)
(Wall n.d.)

Caroline suggested I look for something in them using Jeff Walls technique that I could use to create a single image from and reflects the person the subject.

Another problem I had with the stills I made was that the content was far more sexual than I had wanted. Having spent a lot of time researching into voyeurism and determining that it does not need to be sexual and I really wanted to portray something less revealing. My audience will predominantly be made up of fellow students and lecturers and I was not comfortable with this subject matter and felt it was not right for my audience. Philip-Lorca diCorcia’s heads and Walker Evans Subway series had already shown me that seemingly banal photos can be fascinating and this held greater appeal than revealing images that depict sexual intimacy.

From here I made my first sequence of images taken over a period of several hours in the room of my original subject.


The series of images stands at just over 500 and I pieced them together into a video that lasts just short of three and a half minutes.  After watching it back a few times I was initially disappointed as I felt it did not reveal much and at this point I did not know quite which direction I heading so I headed back into uni and this time talked through my project with Matt Johnston. He was quick to point out two remarkable things from the video, firstly that the persons actions makes him act as though he is very aware of the camera, sometimes consciously but mostly subconsciously. This reflected a person not at ease in their own space but a person who is actually performing, albeit unaware at times for the camera. Another aspect he pointed out was how much the person constantly engaged with his digital devices, he even noticed at one point the laptop power down into a stand by mode and he speculated on the amount of constant data that is being sent and received from the location and felt this was a subject worthy of further investigation.

At this point my only hope was to carry on making my fly on the wall image sequences and look for inspiration in them.



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