Week-1-Contextual Research

Reading: This week I  read an article by Grant Scott: “Why is narrative such a difficult concept for your photographers.”  I don’t think this is limited to young photographers particularly, as I am finding it rather difficult to narrate my series on ‘Fences’

Continue reading Week-1-Contextual Research

Week 5 Contextual Research.

This week, I have been doing some more research on Japanese photographers. This time I looked at the work of Daido Moriyama again from a contextual standpoint.  I saw some work of his before, I think it was at the Tate, could have been Pompidou,  it’s all a blur. I was impressed by the grainy, contrasty, mood of his images.  As I looked at the work of Masahisa Fukase, I noticed a very similar kind of feel to the mood of his work. Could it be a cultural thing, or lack of technical mastery?  What ever it is, I like it!

© Daido Moriyama


© Masahisa Fukase

I have always been attracted to this kind of look, maybe it’s a mirror of my own imperfection, and I refer to it as ‘dirty photography’ (no pun regarding images shown intended) Dirty, has more than one meaning depending on whether one reads it as a noun or a verb!

Somehow this look or mood evokes a type of emotion to the forefront of the work,  which I like.  I am working in B+W analogue for this module (and may do it for the rest of the MA, again, have learned to use the word may, with caution, because I’ve run the gamut so far) and have decided to implement more dirt into my work. . . Time to get dirty – very dirty!

© Pierre Chemaly; Title: ‘Whatever comes to mind’

Somehow, by looking at the work of these artists, I feel it is okay to be ‘dirty’ that they have paved the way in this arena already. Their way of being dirty and my way are different for sure, so I am not concerned about appropriation as I once was, because there is not only one kind of dirty.  There is for example by playing in the sand, or by playing in the oil fields, two ways in a hundred. Figuring where to get dirty is the creative part of form, as is it’s opposite, getting clean, and again, both have their merits, it’s just that I feel like playing in the dirt right now, maybe it’s a pang for my childhood days of art in the sand box, but that is a whole other issue.

In the US, everything is sterile and clean, or cleaned up, like some other places in the world as well, the US is not mutually exclusive in this regard, but let’s just use it for illustrative purposes, because I reside here and am experienced with it’s cultural cleanliness.  For example, even the pulp is removed from orange juice here. Think: Sunny Delight. It’s so sterile it’s like drinking embalming fluid. This is the way I feel  about photography in the digital age.  Everything  good about (analogue) has been removed in digital. Grain, scratches, silver clumping, the list goes on. Funnily enough, it can be put back, in digital form, but it’s a pale horse compared to the real thing.  Like actual meat compared to vegetarian “fake” meat. It looks somewhat the same, but it’s not, and with every bite, you know it, and feel cheated, that I’m paying $20 for some glued together, dyed brown mushed up soy-beans, which costs less than a nickel on the open market. In the same vane, analogue photography to digital photography is like being with an actual woman compared to a blow up doll. Blow up doll people have no idea what they are missing.

Form is part of the image making process, content is what makes the photographer unique, well. . . maybe it’s form and content.  Personally, I like one of a kind. Unique, the novel, or however one defines it.  For me it is one of the elements that adds ‘value’ to an image, something I work for, whatever emotion the term ‘value’ invokes, which are many.


Dido Moriyama image: https://www.michaelhoppengallery.com/artists/53-daido-moriyama/overview/#/artworks/10446

Masahisa Fukase image: http://www.mackbooks.co.uk/books/1169-Ravens.html

Week-4-Contextual Research.

© Masahisa Fukase https://www.michaelhoppengallery.com/exhibitions/127/overview/#/artworks_standalone/10109

This week, I looked at the work of Masahisa Fukase, (suggested by Anna) a Japanese photographer who lived from 1934 to 2012 with a current exhibition in Amsterdam.  Most well known for his work “Ravens”

A copy of the book can be seen here. http://www.mackbooks.co.uk/books/1169-Ravens.html Before looking through the book, I thought it would be all about ravens, or images of ravens. However, to my surprise, there was an image of a naked woman, maybe his wife, and one of the ocean, another of a factory, and still another of a cat. I was quite surprised, to see these other images in the series, but realized that they are images that represent a raven. The cat, may just have eaten one, the factory has a tiny image of a raven in a tree, the light behind his wife in the window looks like a light raven, and a fold in the wave at the ocean casts a shadow of a raven.

I am just presuming here, as I do not have the book, or have done much more research into those images, however, it is nice to have a few images of “indirect” raven images in the series, some of which can be seen, and others imagined.

I find this work to be very interesting, and wonder if my assumptions about his ‘indirect raven’ images is correct.  If it is, great, if not, I can apply it to my own work, in my series. By looking deeper into shadows and light formations, of images that are a symbol, signifier or motif for the subject at hand.

So, the question arises? What gave Masahisa this idea, why did he make a series on ravens? Is this idea unique, or was it appropriated, modified, or based on someone else work? I decided to do a little research on the net, however was not able to find anything related prior to the work of Masahisa.So far it seems the idea and the series is an original..