RESEARCH FOR PHOTOGRAPHING THE UNSEEN: PART 1

I am inspired by the OCA photographers in exercise 3 to photograph something unseen that is personal to me, but where else could I look for inspiration? I began to research photographers and looked for those that went beyond photography as a visible art and “began to push the boundaries of perception beyond the merely “seeable” (Mulligan, 2005).

There are photographers who challenge the viewer to read beyond the surface of the object to reveal more than the subject itself.

Minor white (1908-1976)

He was an artist, critic and the editor of Aperture magazine and promoted photography’s expressive powers and as an art form in itself. He began by photographing rural landscapes and then in the fifties he shot infrared landscapes, typified by their darkened skies and glowing grass and leaves.

white1

(Levesques, 2014)

I find him interesting as he photographed subjects “not only for what they were, but also for what they may suggest, and therefore, the images would possess symbolic and metaphorical allusions” (Levesques and hl, 2014). White said, “One should not only photograph things for what they are but for what else they are.”  (Cited in Levesques and Hl 2014). His early photographs sometimes include these allusions, such as Cabbage Hill, Oregon, (below), where a corner of a split-rail fence and a coil of barbed wire gives associations with hard physical labour as well as Christ’s suffering on the cross.

cabbage-hill-m-white

(Princeton, 2016)

I am drawn to the way that his images cause you to reflect, perhaps looking for their meaning, such as the haunting image of the bout hull partially covered in snow, you definitely need to look closely at his images. A sense of spirituality runs through his works and it seems that he “took the view that photography was well suited to disclosing the artist’s inner life” (Mulligan, 2005).

Essence of a Boat, Lanesville, Massachusetts 1967

Essence of Boat, Lanesville, Massachusetts, 1967 ((Pleasurephoto, 2013)

References

Levesque, D. and hl, (2014) ‘“Minor white: Manifestations of the spirit” at the Getty · guardian Liberty Voice’, Arts, 23 June. Available at: http://guardianlv.com/2014/06/minor-white-manifestations-of-the-spirit-at-the-getty/ (Accessed: 11 January 2017).

Limited, P.P. and Jeffrey, I. (1997) The photography book. London: Phaidon Press.

Mulligan, T. (2005) A history of photography: From 1839 to the present; the George Eastman house collection. Edited by Therese Mulligan and David Wooters. 25th edn. Köln, Germany: Taschen GmbH.

Pleasurephoto, © (2013) Photo minor white; Lanesville, Massachusetts, 1967 essence of a boat. Available at: https://pleasurephotoroom.wordpress.com/2013/01/28/photo-minor-white-lanesville-massachusetts-1967-essence-of-a-boat/ (Accessed: 11 January 2017).

Princeton, T. of (2016) DART » minor words: Photography and writing. Available at: http://www.ai-ap.com/publications/article/10940/minor-words-photography-and-writing.html (Accessed: 11 January 2017)

Princeton, T. of (no date) Early career: 1937–45. Available at: https://www.getty.edu/art/exhibitions/minor_white/ (Accessed: 11 January 2017).

Carl Chiarenza (b 1935)

His work shows the spiritual influence of his teacher Minor White, He began with tightly framed, documentary-style photographs, abstract and landscapes. Since 1979 he has been photographing collages out of scraps of paper, foil, can lids, etc., then photographing the collages with Polaroid positive/negative film in black and white.

chiarenza

Samurai 329, 1999 (Shutterbug TEN, 2016).

His unique images using light, shapes, forms, and surfaces, encourage the viewer to let their imagination do all the interpretation. In common with other photographers such as Ansel Adams, and Aaron Siskind found a metaphorical relationship between music and photography.  He stated that “while making the images for my book, Solitudes, I listened over and over to pianist Mitsuko Uchida playing Mozart’s sonatas because they put me into a spectacular solitary place, which pervades the studio and hopefully influences the work”. (RH, 2009). He has said that Minor taught him that you can create images with passion as a poet would with imagery or musician with imagery. Chiarenza is interested in “how, when it all comes together into a new object, ‘a picture,’ the creation causes a response that excites a genuinely real, fresh experience that did not exist before the photograph. I want the viewer to experience it in any way he or she connects.” (Cited in Shutterbug TEN, 2016).

chiarenza3

Marble Madonna, Ipswich, 1960 (RH, 2009)

References

2009, R.H. (2009) Light research: Articles. Available at: http://lightresearch.net/interviews/Chiarenza.html (Accessed: 12 January 2017).

Shutterbug TEN (2016) The work of Carl Chiarenza: Bringing art to photography. Available at: http://www.shutterbug.com/content/work-carl-chiarenza-bringing-art-photography#DBqf357kDip0ff5V.97 (Accessed: 12 January 2017).

Ralph Gibson (b 1939)

I discovered Gibson when reading in A history of photography “a similar world of unseen meaning permeates Ralph Gibson’s “snake around Mans neck” (Mulligan, 2005). Unfortunately I can’t show the image but the snake and a human head viewed from above create an abstract pattern.

He was mentored by Dorothea Lange and Robert Frank but his work took on surrealistic influences. He is also inspired by music. Gibson publishes his work in book form. He creates fiction and abstracts with the simple objects and believes an individualistic style is important for a photographer, he describes his own as:

“I love taking pictures of nothing, of ordinary objects, maybe even just the corner of a room. I love flattening and even reducing things. When I photograph flesh, I like to make it look like a stone. But, when I am photographing a stone, I like to make it look alive. I love re-contextualising the quality of my subjects.” (Gajria, 2011). I do like the simplicity of his images “In a world of infinite myriad possible objects to photograph, I eliminate everything I don’t want in a frame until I’m finally left with what I do want,,,I call this process subtractive” (Photographer, 2014). Following my tutors recent comments I would do well to try this technique. He also uses shadow to hide unwanted detail and create shape that he needs to make a “point of departure”, an unusual point of interest or perspective in an ordinary object.

raplph-gibson
“Priest Collar’, 1975. ‘This remains one of my most important images,’ (Photographer, 2014)

The photograph below shows how he builds narrative meaning through contextualization and surreal juxtaposition. He says about the image “I thought of the woman speaking across time and distance”. (Photographer, 2014).

gibson

(Photographer, 2014)

Learning points I may use in my assignment:

  •  Photographing subjects not for what they are but for what they might suggest.
  • Creating an image that causes a response in the viewer.
  • Eliminating everything that you don’t want in a frame.
  • Being able to use show to hide unwanted detail or to create shape.
  • Building narrative meaning by recontextualising.

 References

Gajria, C. (2011) Ralph Gibson. Available at: http://betterphotography.in/perspectives/great-masters/ralph-gibson/596/ (Accessed: 13 January 2017).

Mulligan, T. (2005) A history of photography: From 1839 to the present; the George Eastman house collection. Edited by Therese Mulligan and David Wooters. 25th edn. Köln, Germany: Taschen GmbH.

Photographer, A. (2014) Icons of photography – Iconic photographer Ralph Gibson 1939 – present. Available at: http://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/iconic-images/icons-of-photography-iconic-photographer-ralph-gibson-1939-present-5981 (Accessed: 13 January 2017).

Please note: Any images by other photographers used on this post are accredited and are being used for personal research and educational purposes only.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s