I wrote about a mini-series of studio images that I called ‘Tapes’ in this blog post – here. Looking back, I feel less enthusiastic about the notion of ‘meaning’ than I did in that post; but I do think that some/all of the images ‘work’ as part of this overall Studio Work Project that I am developing. These three, for example:
They have some positive aesthetic qualities and are likely to pose questions in the viewer’s mind. I could see them as part of a gallery exhibition or within a sequence of these studio images, in book form. I did some more work with my green & yellow ‘earth tape’. He (what was I saying about meaning!) appeared in another studio ‘still-life’, for example:
Here he’s working with some more ‘trash’ – an old piece of wrapping paper and two ‘cut-offs’ from transparent curtain poles. I suppose that I am exploring a still-life aesthetic here that is frequently used in the world of advertising – careful lighting and composition designed to glorify an expensive perfume brand, some jewellery or a leather handbag. Applying that same approach to various pieces of rubbish that are lying around on my shelves is a way of undermining the notion of brand prestige. In a way that is similar to the creation of identity in my self-portraits, I am creating spectacle from nothing – using simple lighting and the magical powers of photographic image-making.
One of the plastic cut-offs and the wrapping paper came together in this heavily Photoshopped spectacle. And another discarded metal curtain pole, with a very humble bit of plastic packaging met under seductive lighting in this image.
Another idea in my mind, in this context, is the importance of ‘spaces’. It occurred to me that in setting up some of these studio projects I am, in effect, creating spaces in which some form of photographic action is deemed to take place. The image below came about as a result of that idea – the old cardboard box is the empty space (stage?) into which I place the ‘players’ with a view to making an interesting (if meaningless?) assemblage.
That has set me thinking about the potential to collect ‘spaces’ from the outside world, into which I can place my scenes. I photographed an innocent-looking space outside York Minster, into which some familiar characters emerged, back ‘in the studio’.
And then, a special opportunity arose to capture a famous ‘space’ at the Tate Modern – the Turbine Hall. It was empty, apart from three ‘expectant’ viewers – so I have given them something to look at.
I feel that there is some potential in this idea of collecting ‘spaces’, particularly this empty exhibition space. Thinking, contextually, about the importance of the curatorial influences in art; about some of the contextual essays that I’ve been looking at in Contextual Studies – Solomon-Godeau, Crimp etc; not sure whether this can go further as part of the Studio Projects or whether it is a separate project of its own, or even whether it is worth pursuing at all.
So, the experimentation continues. I must admit to a degree of uncertainty, though. I enjoy the work – both the making and some of the outcomes – but I have a concern about what, if anything, it means to anybody else. There doesn’t seem to be a great deal of focus to it – spurts of ideas that produce a few interesting images and then on to something else which may or may not extend from what I had been doing before. Part of me feels that, providing I keep going with it, there will be something worthwhile emerging at the end; but another part feels that I might just be ‘playing at it’ and would do well to change tack to something more straightforward. My next step is to put together an assignment submission, which will include my self-portraits and the ‘best’ of what is emerging from these studio projects. That process will, in itself, help with my thinking – and there will be Clive’s feedback, of course.
‘but another part feels that I might just be ‘playing at it’ and would do well to change tack to something more straightforward..’ I have similar feelings about some of the work I’ve done, and perhaps still doing, but I wonder of that is more about the reticence of age over naivety? If we were younger would we have the same questioning, something we’ll never know – but if your ‘gut’ tells you it’s interesting then what’s the worst that could happen? Keep rolling the tape out I say!
“Keep rolling the tape out I say!” – nicely put! One of the reasons I’m doing this studio work is that I am inspired by what much younger contemporary artists are doing. If I’m messing about in the same arena, some of their youthful enthusiasm might rub off on me! Thanks for the encouragement.