I have been very busy with my upcoming exhibition of Lifting the Curtain at Town House Spitalfields. Opening is next week and I am getting nervous. I think I will be fine once I have installed the work. Everything is ready to go. The framed prints and catalogue looks great. Apart from the opening night to which Toynbee Hall are inviting quite a few guests – it is being positioned as a fundraiser, two other group visits are planned. My Rotary Club have planned a visit to East London which will take in my exhibition and the Open College of the Arts have a study visit. At last count these organised events will see around 130 people come to the show and hear me speak about my work. I hope also to sell quite a few copies of the catalogue, which is being offered for a minimum donation of £10 to Toynbee Hall and with luck a few prints too. The catalogue has been printed as a limited signed edition of 100 copies.
In the last few days I have been back in photographic action. In my post here I talked about my idea of a project to document the redevelopment of East London and using traditional printing methods to produce the final prints. As stated in the previous post, ‘I am interesting in using some form of traditional printing/processing to reference the past within the modern context of the subject of my images. On reflection it seems to me that the metaphoric impact of the mode of presentation could go much further than simply a reference to time. For example if I were to print the images as cyanotypes, I would implicitly be referencing the idea of the ‘blueprint’ or plan.’
I have a second project in which I plan to explore how the mode of presentation can be used to reinforce an underlying concept within a piece of work. This is a portraiture series. The basic concept is to make a series of portraits of my wife over an extended period of some years, adding a new portrait every three months or so. The portraits would be formally similar – most probably a head and shoulders image against a plain background. The series would be presented as a grid with the oldest image top left moving down to the youngest at bottom right. The work would in effect document the ageing process. My thought is to make the portraits using 8×10 inch Impossible instant film. In this way the images would be pure – no photoshopping to hide the blemishes of ageing. Also I am interested to see how the instant photographs will age in themselves. I understand that over time these photographs do change and in some instances decay. Such decay would of course refer to the process of ageing through the medium itself.
During the last week I have been testing out the 8×10 Impossible film and have made a few portraits. See below:
The imperfect nature of these analogue photographic process are very apparent. I like this. It reveals the tangible physicality of the process.
The portraiture and East London projects have a number of things in common. As stated above they explore how the medium of production can reinforce an underlying concept. They raise questions about the truth value of photography and originality. Here the singular unique nature of the analogue prints stands in opposition to the infinitely replicable nature of digital images.The printing processes used also reveal the hand of the photographer (through the imperfections in the prints) and demonstrate the role of chance/serendipity in the production of any photograph – so how can a photograph be art?
I am continuing to develop my skills in these alternative photographic processes and seeking to develop an umbrella conceptual framework for my future work, which ultimately may morph into the material for a Masters degree. I am still thinking about my prospective project on Thames Valley suburbia, which will reference the work of J G Ballard. I presented my thoughts on this project now code named The Suburbs Dream of Violence, here. I have yet to consider how I might make this work and how, it would fit into the broader area of inquiry outlined above….food for thought.