PHO702 Contextual Research / MA Falmouth University
Construction in the image and often in my subject plays an important role in the photographic work I produce. Though the construction usually comes from my subject and while my ability to construct what’s infront of me only comes from the ability to frame, crop, colour and light. I have yet to construct the image in a such a way as Jeff Wall’s A Sudden Gust Of Wind which takes inspiration from Hokusai’s woodblock print, A High Wind Yeijiri.
Fig 1: A Sudden Gust Of Wind (After Hokusai), 1993. Jeff Wall
The image constructed from hundreds of photographs and constructed within photoshop tells of an everyday moment that Jeff has reconstructed from past experience and memory, his experience of seeing the artwork which is still relevant to him matching it with a scene of the man loosing his papers compares how these scenes depicted in the art could apply to contemporary modern life.
Fig 2: Ejiri in Suruga Province (Sunshū Ejiri), from the series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (Fugaku sanjūrokkei), 1830. Katsushika Hokusai.
Instead of a found photograph, a snapshot of daily life in which this scene could be plausible the backdrop is of a scene on the proriphery an edgeland one that my work has recently come to focus on, often these scenes have little to offer other than an example of the human impacts on the land, a water product of our construct of the urban landscape.
The reconstruction of a subversive political movement influenced by Wall’s reading of feminist theoretical texts and subsequent work continue to represent his subjects of a traditional drama and actors used to constructed these large scale tableaux (Manchester, 2003)
This style of image referred to as tableaux photography, originating from combination printing used in the 18th century by Sweedish photographer Oscar Gustave Rejlander in his photograph Two Ways of life, he utilised this technique to embellish a single scene with multiple elements printing into a single scene, with a clear biblical reference. This style of photography was adopted from the French painting style Tableaux which often depicted an entire narrative in one scene.
Fig 3: Two Ways of life, 1857. Oscar Gustave Rejlander.
Tableaux, narrative and construction are all influences I would like to work with in my current practice and recent photographic experimentation in Faux Rock creates my initial reaction to the works of Jeff Wall, Gregory Crewdson and Alex Prager (two which I will be further studying in my CRJ at a later date).
This initial stage of the work takes on the hunter style approach of documentary photography questioning the construction of the landscape surrounding us however it’s intent is to farm these subjects into a collection of structures which can be re used and re categorised into new landscapes. Constructing my own narratives and scenes as if from a movie set I intend to use a ‘green screen’ to lay or obscure the landscape with which I can reimagine and reconstruct it. Much like Jeff Wall these scenes though seemingly straight documentary I want to build scenes from what seem like the ordinary but are in fact constructed.
The current images question the authenticity of the landscape and whether it really matters if it is? these scenes almost out of a national park in USA, the snowy peaks of the climbing wall, the wildlife flying over head, names inscribed on the walls of the rock. Broken fragments only reveal the artifice of the construction but does it matter. With feedback from my tutor I will begin further research into constructed narratives and their influences from art and the further reflection in my work developing this idea and the narrative. As currently the work may only appear as trying to trick the audience into whether these scenes are authentic or not and makes them question but it could go much further.
Faux Rock. Henry Woide, 2021.
Much like the works of Miriam Backstrom and her observations of film sets as she puts it ‘a reality made for the camera’ a development of the project maybe to take the work to stage sets or even aquariums or zoos which are almost designed for the viewer and the camera. Thinking also of the works of Hiroshi Sugimoto and his scenes of Natural History Museums and to the camera their construction as the real, not being able to tell the difference between these and real life.
Smith, P, & Lefley, C 2015, Rethinking Photography : Histories, Theories and Education, Taylor & Francis Group, London. Available from: ProQuest Ebook Central. [20 February 2021].
Gregory Crewdson - The Aesthetics of Repression - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KTLGFDhwVk
Jeff Wall: Tableaux Pictures Photographs 1996-2013 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tNWWrKXNeBA
Miriam Bäckström, Artist Film, Artes Mundi 5 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUnEiBjdmuY
Manchester, Elizabeth, 2003. ‘A Sudden Gust of Wind (after Hokusai)’, Jeff Wall, 1993 | Tate (WWW) https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/wall-a-sudden-gust-of-wind-after-hokusai-t06951