The concept I choose for Beyond Photography is something that is very personal to me. I felt I needed to express the importance of a supportive network. It maybe personal to me but is not unique in the support of all people affected by the disease. I felt I should raise awareness of the disease. “Experience is about responsibility. Having an experience is taking part in the world. Taking part in the world is really about sharing responsibility.” Cited by Olafur Eliasson. Olafur Eliasson makes me question why I have chosen the subject but on my journey through this Beyond Photography project, I found Eliasson to be the most inspiring, perhaps in a multitude of different ways. “Does it matter if I am in the world or not?” The concept of Ellisson’s work greatly resonates with me as it made me realise why I felt inspired to create this project. This is not something that just affects me, I feel that I should teach people with the insight I have gained, which subsequently gives me the experience and foresight to educate them about this disease, thus bringing greater awareness of the disease but also for the viewer to take what they want from the work. I feel this concept was the right choice for me in the field of Beyond Photography, as it could be part of a self-healing enterprise but also to feel I am able to help others to feel inspired with my photographic practice subject.
I’ve been able to use all the skills I’ve learnt in the practical workshops and have incorporated them into this project. The theory taught in the lectures has been an excellent resource to help guide me with the understanding and increased knowledge base, it has taught me how and why hybridity is used in photography and in doing something personal to me I have found ways of exploring new hybrid forms. It has helped me learn other ways to utilise this feature in my future projects, I feel this is very successful and provided a steep learning curve.
This project may be hard to comprehend without the underpinning of experience, but it is not something that has a cultural barrier it is universally a disease with global statistics. The majority of people are affected by some form of cancer and therefore this project can be quite distressing for some viewers, therefore the emphasis has to appear abstract and minimal for the audience, so that they are empathetic, though perhaps as a consequence they feel a distant sympathy. This may provoke feelings that effect their own individual lives.
As the project is personal to me because it affected me on a unique level, I feel that the project has successfully evolved from the concept I originally planned, the proposed ideas, and how I was going to execute the finished result, however it transpired that I had planned far too much and was overly elaborate in the time available to me. I therefore had to re-evaluate the plans on the vast majority of ideas I had proposed. In the beginning I thought perhaps this would limit the project’s creativity and it would lose the depth that I had hoped, however I realised that a minimalistic approach is far superior to thousands of ideas, therefore in simplifying the idea it can deliver a stronger projected impression.
I researched the project extensively and managed to establish the underpinning of the concept but the majority of ideas I did not explore, as they were superfluous. One of the things that originally inspired me was a rapper who made a song about his lymphoma; other ideas were the stories of lymphoma patients, the symptoms of the disease, drawing links to other illnesses that have similar issues. I also looked at many artists but they ended up being unused as they didn’t fit the final outcome for concept execution. Much of the research I found from artists; in books, the Internet or TV programmes. I found that the vast majority of the artists I looked at really resonated with my personal experiences or displayed similar thoughts and feelings, this provided inspiration and a supportive mechanism, therefore supporting my practice tremendously. I first drew inspiration from journals of people who suffered with the disease, immediately, I begun to be strongly influenced by the research, this prompted me to look at other artists which subsequently provoked a different response in me this eventually helped to support my creativity and made me look at other methods that perhaps developed my concept and eventually changed the outcome of this project.
I had a very methodical plan in which to achieve this project but unfortunately due to personal changes and progression of my disease, the planned ideas became interrupted at times, but I found that, on reflection this time lapse actually helped, allowing me time to realise the shortfalls in my concept for the project and investigate other means to achieve them that, in fact, proved to be more fluid and cohesive. I found the delay was fruitful and I felt it was pertinent to use to my advantage. This provided the means to execute much of the ideas.
I was able to use many work ethics to achieve this project and I was actually able to be more hands-on with creativity, this naturally helped fuel the energy to look at alternative methods of how best to achieve the outcome. During this time I spoke to many peers who helped me through this project, inviting new perceptive and challenging my ideas, thus inspiring the need look at alternative methods, these took the form of either personal conversations or tutorials, at times this helped enormously in sparking new ideas and even though most of the ideas were never utilised they provided a formal pathway to the eventual outcome that told my story. I did several test shoots until I found the best method for this project these included; eight hour exposures on an analogue camera (similar to Martin Newth’s work) however there was hardly anything visible on the filmstrip and so I abandoned this plan and looked into digital practice, also attempting eight hour long exposures. I found that the digital camera’s battery life terminated after just three hours and therefore this wasn’t the best method to use, two reasons became apparent; it picked up far too much digital noise on the frame which appeared red and I didn’t feel this would benefit the project so I had to look at an alternative method to create less noise but provide just as much impact as an exposure throughout the night.
I looked at Francesca Woodman’s work and I felt inspired as it provided me with the eventual idea of how I could achieve this. This resulted in a minute long exposure using two blankets and a very small ring light under one of the blankets, I tried rotating and moving the light around for a minute and moving my body concurrently under the other blanket until I created the desired effects. I spent quite a lot of time experimenting with different outcomes photographically, which I felt achieved the desired outcome. I looked into many different colour spectrums and methods to use colour for example; solarisation, in this aspect I felt strongly inspired by the work of Catherine Yass. I feel that the outcome I achieved was potent enough to draw attention to both the danger and the coldness of fear.
The transfer prints on to the bed sheets proved to be time consuming, I had to use a lot of trial and error in order to achieve the outcome, and the materials used didn’t appear to be working as effectively as I had hoped. It appeared that the hot press was too hot and therefore this would change the colour balance on the prints and therefore this resulted in me using an iron to achieve the end result, even though the images still had a slightly green hue to them. I had to explore many methods for the best outcome for my miniature bath tub idea as it seemed to be a challenge and proved to be infeasible, especially in the proposed timeframe, therefore I had to resort to using a projector however I feel this achieved the best outcome for the purpose I had chosen.
I used visual language to tell the story but I also feel that the viewer would need to do their own research as this should provide a train of thought and processing of ideas that I hope will prompt or encourage investigation of the disease. I provided contextual language to reinforce the message I was trying to convey to be informative to the audience, a text format established a means to enable the visuals to be greatly emphasised and impactful, this style was inspired by the work of Ron Mueck. I looked at many inspiring artists, books and attended lectures l found this very helpful and informative, it increased my knowledge base and my knowledge of why in contemporary practice it is highly important to understand the use of hybridity.
I am pleased with the outcome of the project, as it achieved my main objectives, it has included many hidden metaphors that relate to me personally or sufferers of the same disease. I have used traditionally obvious metaphors that are easily interpreted therefore, I feel I’m satisfied with what has been achieved. I feel happy with the place where my work will be exhibited. The placement and location, the dilapidated environment helped me to achieve the metaphoric suggestion I wanted to be in the correct manner of execution. I deployed all the adjustments that were required, I felt many aspects were ultimately out of my control due to changes in my health; however these alterations would only be minor and would mainly focus on more background text to underpin the visuals of my project. I was unable to explain my work to viewers as I was unable to attend the exhibition. I have many things I would subsequently like to explore, perhaps look at new materials, printing processes but keeping the idea of transfer prints, maybe try new transfer paper or experimenting with different temperatures so that I could have the correct colour balance in the images when printed.