This short series of images was made ‘in the studio’, last week; beginning as an experiment in lighting but, perhaps, ending as a series ‘with meaning’. The process developed something of a life of its own and went from a set of mini-tableaux still-lifes of mundane objects lying around the store to a set of images that might, I think, have potential for multiple readings. Of course, all images have that potential, but what causes me to reflect on this set is the fact that it seemed to come out of nowhere, seemingly without me directing it (though I obviously did!). I am reluctant to start expressing too much about my own readings but, almost as soon as I put the stripey tape under the plastic box for Tapes-1 and it rolled forward to the front, I got a sense of some human emotions such as shyness and vulnerability, but also maybe, curiosity and a degree of questioning. I just recently re-viewed this short film of Lucas Blalock making his ‘99c store still-life’ images (Lucas Blalock), in which he says that he sometimes feels that the objects were standing in for something else that might have been in the images. My series progressed as follows:
What is interesting, perhaps, is the question of ‘meaning’ as created through the photographic transformation of inanimate and insignificant objects; particularly the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ of this transformation. Lighting is a significant factor here – and that was, as I’ve said, the starting point for the work. The very first image is not lit in a simple manner. I was initially trying to create a sense of something happening outside the frame – which does happen here, in some of the images, especially Tapes-4 for example. And that first images poses a question, maybe, which is explored and developed through a kind of narrative as the little series develops. In the end, it’s just six pictures of junk, and I certainly don’t want to make more of it than is appropriate, but I suppose I have to admit that I quite like them. Allowing the experiment to take its own course has resulted in something that almost feels to have come about separate from me – like the characters in a novel taking over the narrative from the writer.
Ideally, these would be large-scale prints on a gallery wall! Then I speculate about critical reviews. There would be the one that said: “It is hard to understand why the gallery believes that Dickinson’s photographs of junk should be of any significance to the art world – pretty and well-printed as they might be!” And then another that opened: “Lit like a series of dramatic stage sets, Dickinson’s images trace a surprising range of emotions and sensations, considering the prosaic subject matter, raising questions about identity, personality, relationships, maybe even gender and sexuality.” Well … in another world!