Posts tagged abstract

Shooting with my best friend has been a long time coming. In town from LA for the holidays, we spent quite a lot of time brainstorming what we could create while she was here. Having little to no daylight and space to shoot, I was so stumped on how to execute anything good in my cramped, poorly lit room. Using my shade as a backdrop and bouncing light from a desk lamp, I was totally schooled on how to recreate studio lighting with the humblest of resources. Game changer. Thank god I have smart friends.

 I came down with a cold on Christmas Day and, I have to admit, the cold medicine probably helped orchestrate the overall weirdness of the photos. We made her a dress out of bubble wrap and were pleasantly surprised to see how well it translated on camera. We loved the alien look the shadows and highlights formed and how the bubble wrap worked with her shape and decided to run with it. We agreed that it was too much fun to stop with just these photos and when I visit her in California, more will be taken. Happy accidents are always sweeter with the best people.


What I Meant By
After feeling like I had reached a plateau in the series, I pulled together these last five images to round it off. Finally having natural light, I decided to mix light sources to see the effect it would have on the work. With the exception of the last image (which I think would fit in nicely with the second week of work), these images have a softer, more sensual tone to them, mostly attributed to the variation in light sources, warmer editing and 8x10 cropping. I liked the idea of peeking hands that gave an indication of aggravation but do not dominate the composition.

What I found most intriguing about the project weren't the images themselves, nor the process, but the perspective. The first round of feedback I received from the course instructor was simply a concern for my own well-being rather than a criticism of the work. On numerous occasions, I had to defend myself with a disclaimer that these images which could be loosely interpreted as "self-mutilation" (it's a valid point) are in no way autobiographical. I plainly missed this as saw the all from the whole series from the other side as a photographer. Despite the technicality of being "self-portraits," I took a completely objective standpoint when composing these photographs. I was the model but the subjects were the elements I mentioned in previous explanations: color and discoloration, light and shadow, texture and line. Subjectivity vs. objectivity. I shoot best when I'm alone and like I mentioned in the final critique of the class, I would have felt uncomfortable with a model performing these actions simply because the boundaries between model and photographer would have made the series less compelling. Model vs. mind. I birthed the idea so I thought it best to carry it out despite the implications of self-harm in self-portraiture. Stigma vs. bravery.

(As disappointing and disillusioning as it may be, nothing in these photographs actually hurt anyway.)

"A Wanness"
I lost focus this week among colds, checklists and gratuitous spending for the sake of art shows. I could not settle down with subject. Next week, my final presentation for the class, will be better.

Pushing myself a bit further with this series, I attempted to concentrate on mainly shadow and discoloration. Sickly yellows and aggravated pinks. "A wanness," my instructor remarked this week. One student said the photos reminded him of hospital lighting, washed out, a sallow fluorescent glow.

The series could, in fact, relate to illness, a worsening of conditions, a self-antagonization. Two unified parts working against each other, mind and body, fingers and flesh. The hand in these photos is the perpetrator, scratching, harsh, present and unshy of the violence; and the body, the victim.


The Pretty Things
I am learning to embrace the uncomfortable, to revel in the tension, to create in the unrest. Continuing the direction of discoloration and distortion of flesh, I chose to chase this idea of disturbance down a similarly violent but more relatable path by photographing my least favorite part of me, my feet, and use them to my advantage.

The reception of last week's flesh series was mixed yet motivating. The reaction was much more involved than I expected, though I knew I was catching on to something powerful. This week, I planned on shooting with a model, partly by my own curiosity partly per the suggestion of my instructor, but things fell through. I caught myself repeating ideas. I decided to take the weekend to think about it.

After photographing in New Hampshire for ten hours this weekend, for the first time ever, I could say that I was literally sore from my work. Inspired by my pathetically aching feet, I was motivated to depict the act of stretching. Pointed toes are typically seen as a convention of womanhood–graceful and light–but when looking a bit closer, it's clear that the act is as deformed as the flex. Pools of blood under layers of skin, tightly strained tendons and the gathering of bones further push the idea of bodily limitations. The human looks alien. The poise, repulsive. The body, misshapen.

A Distortion of Beauty
To keep myself inspired and active outside of work, I enrolled in a RISD photography class knowing that the expectations were going to be much different than at Saint Anselm. The class objective is to inspire and create a body of work which would "question beauty," which would violate boundaries and bring to consciousness the uncomfortable, irritable crawling sensation one experiences when photography feels along with the viewer. Our first body of work all demonstrated how well we know our cameras, how gifted we are with the craft. Personally, I wasn't happy with the way my assignment turned out, despite the assurance of the rest of the class. I wanted to dig deeper but I was struggling to understand how.

Originally inspired by Bill Brandt, Lucien Clergue, and Alfred Stieglitz, I intended on extracting their focus of nude lines and angled hands with shape and shadow in my own work. However, after looking and talking and seeing the series I had created, I felt as though it was a safe direction.

Striving to create "the disturbing image" or something that generally strayed from the usual soft aesthetic of my work, I composed this series of color and discoloration, femininity and flesh, obedience and revolt.

Nude in Chiaroscuro
There is a sly, consistent irony drawn from the lines of the human body, like a soft curl of the lips, secretive and alluring. There is a push and a pull, a step closer and a recoil, when examining just how everything looks. Models, viewers and photographers alike all experience the magnetism and internal shame upon recognition of the attraction and elegance of the bodily shape. Our heartbeats quicken and our breath catches and we stare and admire the circles of goosebumps and shadows from curves and highlights from bones. We gape, sometimes grinning and slightly slack-jawed, at lights and darks and lines and tones and catch our inner voyeur smiling at the scene in the window, the reflection in the mirror, the movement in corner, the the view in the lens. We're captivated by the unapologetic ferocity of the other. We're engrossed by the trust. But sometimes it's not so immediate. Yes, sometimes we need to decide. Sometimes it's all welled up in a slow, rising blush. And just then, when we've found ourselves engaged with the body and arrested in the aesthetic, we pull back and close our eyes. We blame the photo, we blame the camera, we blame the model, the figure, the lines, the shape for all that we've felt in the time we spent indulging ourselves. We shrink back and turn away. We don't allow ourselves to like what is most natural, most primal, most naked.

My photography has been sore lately. A brief conversation about a nude photoshoot arose among friends a few days ago. Though I had the intent of producing numerous nude large-format works earlier this year, schedules never synched and graduation happened, so talk of this again certainly piqued my interest.

I've been looking at work by Francesca Woodman (my cousin, Kat, bought me a beautiful collection book) and was blown away by both the modesty and courageousness of her photos. I found inspiration in the honesty and permanence of the black and white stills she took of the female form and took to my own craft to (re)create something new for myself.