In the feedback I received from my tutor on assignment two he recommended I look at the work of Chris Killip and the “straight photography” movement.
Prior to receiving the feedback I’d been flicking through the pages of 500 Photographs of Ansel Adams – part of that modernist movement of photographers, which includes some details on his influences and the f/64 group. Having looked at the work of Chris Killip though I’ve gone a bit “deeper down the rabbit hole” – and been looking at the work of Paul Strand. This led to me reading his 1917 essay “Photography and the New God” .
I found his image Double Akeley (link: SFMOMA) which intrigued me because of it’s representation of the “every day” in photograph – creating an aesthetically pleasing image; in my mind showing off the fact a photograph can make the most mundane of things appear “beautiful” (used in quotes as I’m not quite sure it sums up what I mean, but abbreviates it sufficiently – perhaps I’m being overly self-conscious here…). I wanted to find out more about the original intent behind it – and this led me to a piece saying that while it appears to be a celebration of the machine, it’s actually related to Paul Strand’s essay “Photography and the New God” – in which technology is treated with some disdain. You can read the full article in the Princeton Blue Mountain collection.
Without going into my thoughts on the article too much (I think it’s fair to say I have mixed feelings about what it says and how it’s said – but find it interesting, at this stage) it – and the image which led me to it – have got me thinking about what I could do; my initial thought was around a more modern viewpoint of “machines” – with abstract but “straight”-inspired views of their parts. As I’ve thought about it more I think the use of machines for communication, including social networking, may make a more interesting concept for the monochrome assignment.
It’d be fair to say that I make a lot of use out of social media (foregoing more traditional forms of communication – I hate talking on the telephone, for example) – so to critique it wouldn’t exactly be a completely authentic piece of work. What might be interesting is trying to do so, however – perhaps playing on that irony…
I’m starting to use Evernote to collect together things I see when I’m doing research. I’ve made my notebook for this assignment public, here, should anybody be interested: