Picturing the body goes beyond simply taking photos of ourselves and each other. It is more than just using creative lighting to accentuate areas of the body or to create moods or drama. There is a whole emotional dimension that exists and capturing this is even more challenging.
For the second weeks task we are looking at other ways to effectively represent a person.
You are asked to create a mechanical* montage of yourself and one of a close friend or relative. This montage should seek to be all that a passport photograph is not – something which tells us of the complexities of identity rather than attempt to provide neatly packaged information for digestion.
As creatures that are highly complex it is impossible to sum any of us up by describing a single emotion or personality type. Who we are changes depending on the situation, for example we are often quite a different person in public to who we are in private. There are aspects to our personalities that we might no show anyone and only reveal them to ourselves.
Photographers have been looking for the essence of who we are ever since the camera was invented and it is something that has been challenging artists for years. Most seemingly settle for showing some part of us as trying to sum us up completely is perhaps impossible.
Philip-Lorca DiCorcia spent time capturing images of people as they walked through Times Square, New York. He captured images of people when they were unaware and this revealed one of our many faces.
In terms of who we are and how we present ourselves largely falls under our control and we spend a great deal of time constructing various identities. Most of us are acutely aware of how we present ourselves and the way we are viewed is often the cause of great consternation. In most circumstances this is an important part of life and the way we present ourselves and how we behave effects the reciprocal behaviour of those we interact with.
This experiment in France shows the same person pretending to have a heart attack on a public street.
The only change was his appearance and it had a dramatic effect on those around him. The first time he is dressed like a vagrant and pedestrians walk passed, ignoring him. The second time he is dressed in a suit and within seconds of him collapsing people come running to his aid.
The way we dress is just one part of how we communicate our personalities. What we say, how we say it, Our facial expressions, body language, personal hygiene, hand writing, spelling, grammar, upbringing, job, social status, personal perception and online presence all form part of our personalities and we change them frequently as we adapt to any given situation.
In order to convey this transient and fluctuating aspect to our personalities artists have turned to the montage. A montage is a collection of material that has been brought together and then displayed as a single works.
Artists such as David Hockney has experimented with this style crating images made from many others that are almost as complex as those they represent.
This miss mash of still images taken of the same person has been cut and spliced together to form a bizarre representation of David Hockneys mother. The image feels like it is constantly changing as you look into it, much like the way we continually alter our appearance and never fully settles on any one identity.
A painter who became famous for his surreal portraits was Pablo Picasso.
This image of his former lover Dora Marr was one of his early works in this style. Picasso described her as an emotional person but her crying was one memory that had stayed with him. This image intends to portray the tulmutuous nature of her ever changing emotions.
The first montage I decided to tackle was that of a close personal friend however as I was thinking who I should choose a terrible set of events occurred in Paris which saw a number of people murdered by islamic terrorists. Their attack began on the offices of the Charlie Hebdo Magazine, motivated by the satirical publications depictions of the Prophet Mohammed. These extremists sought to silence the magazine and prevent it from continuing to caricature someone who they revere. This assault was viewed as an attack on free speech and united many of the western world in solidarity, millions marched in support of the magazine and many news outlets who had previously refused to publish comical pictures of Mohammad decided to do so but perhaps the most moving tribute came from the sketch artists themselves who produced some of the most apt and moving pieces that summoned up the futile efforts of these religious radicals.
So many of their works were quite brilliant so it was hard to choose the ones I felt summoned up the emotions after the event. Most of the images some up the old adage that the pen is mightier than the sword whilst others wanted to show the futility of the actions of this minority. Two of the images caused me quite a deal of consternation and deliberation with regards to their inclusion. These images had comical drawings of the prophet Mohammed and although I was happy to include them I was concerned that they always have the potential to provoke anger and confrontation. Again this was something I was prepared to accept in my own stance as my support for freedom of speech but it had the ability to have an impact on those that I know and those around me. After some discussions and much thought I decided that I needed to include the images as they would come at a time when numerous, far more visible outlets were displaying such things and the artists themselves had taken the step of placing their own lives in danger by drawing them in the first place. The very least I could do was to include it and I also felt that I had to take a stand at some point.
My second Montage was a self portrait. But rather than shoot new images or search through an archive on my computer I decided to search for images of me that existed within social media.
Because I already have a website and regulary use social media and image sharing sites there were already quite a few pictures of me around so I gathered these and put them into the montage below.
I chose the images that I felt reflected both my recent life, my passion for photography, my businesses, my support for Liverpool FC and my stance against religion. I also wanted it to feel like a journey by using two images of mr, as I am now and how I was as a child. Across the montage I chose images from my time since I discovered photography and returned to an academic lifestyle. These recent years have been of the most memorable and enjoyable I can speak of so overall I thought this was a good representation of my life right now.