Week-13-Contextual Research

This week I will be researching  photography as conceptual art. My practice is finally over the representational ‘fence’  The final question is if my FMP will be abstract/representional or completely abstract, without any recognizable imagery of fences and its denotations. ie. completely abstracted. My tendency is to go completely abstract. This was my goal at the beginning of the MA and I am at the point now in my practice where I can do it (and want to do it). I am very happy about having to make new work each module. This has been difficult and challenging because I fell in love with some of my images, but the danger there was that when one id ‘in love’ once cannot let go, and when one cannot let go, there is no chance of a better (or worse) encounter. I am pushing that concept very hard in this module, in fact I am entertaining the thought of scrapping or burning all the images made the first half of this module some of  which I absolutely love.

‘Wrestling the hand of fate.’ Photo/concept by: Pierre Chemaly©
‘Past Black Sqaure’ Photo/Concept by: Pierre Chemaly©

Like these two images above:   I made them mural size but they have recogniseable forms in them, the black bird, the locks, the barbwire. I may use reuse the images of the backgrounds and rework them more abstractly.

Now that I am writing some verse to go along with my images, it is making it easier because the words with the images will give some insight into the work. The title of my show will be: Fences; Divisions and Integrations. I have decided to shorten my definition and keep it in the realm of the abstract and what it connotes.  Fences are apparitions and thoughts that divide and unify. Because what started out as a barrier at the begining of the MA, actually led me to be able to ovecome it.

So when I think of those imagined barriers: fear, insecurity about my work, depression, failure and other connotations of a mental fence, I now had to be able to transorm and transmute those thoughts into images. I had to return with a manifestation of the abstraction what ever it was to be able to take a hold of it.

So when I could not sleep at night, I have to show it, when I felt I was going no-where with my art, I have to show it. Paul Klee writes: ‘Art does not reproduce the visible; rather, it makes visible.’  This is true in painting as well as photography. both mediums can allow the artist to make visible what ever they want, provided they have the skills, discipline and the courage to do it. Of the three courage is the most difficult to muster up for me, because I have the tendancy to judge my own work and ideas before the work is even competed. And thus it dies, never even being born. The masters has been very influential to get me over that fence, I have been wrestling with my project ‘Fences’ from day one, before it even had a name. Once it got a name, I thought it would be tamed. (to name is to tame) but I was wrong. The representational would  just not go to bed.



My research has been on the work of: Ralph Eugene Meatyard, who lived from 1928 to 1972. He was an optician by profession with an interest in photography.

Meatyards approach was to take the background of the image and give it precedence over the foreground. Most photographers make something in the foreground promenant and allow to the background to fall off, be out of focus, or use other photographic techniques to make the foreground image satnd out and the background image fall off, or away. That is make it of secondry importance. This is what I found attractive about his work, 99% of all other phtographers focus on the foreground, Meatyard focussed on the background.

Maybe it’s a result of his profession (optometry) that deals with focus of the eye that lead him to see this way? It is interesting to me that there may well be a connection between his optical practice and his photography that lead him to make or consider such a form of image making.

I have considered playing with the focus of the printed image, during projection on the paper, this is quite easily done by titling the lens board or the easel, but this would just be another technique. Meatyards approach seem  a lot depeer to me than just mere ‘tricks’

Im my work the foreground and the backgound are one, they are bridged. Because actually there in no foreground and background, they are both one and the same, because one cannot exist without the other. There are techniques whereby one can accentuate one of the other, tricking the eye or the brain to focus on one ‘or’ the other, but in my work, because there is no front and back, foreground or background, by images need to be explored as a whole.

I do like Meatyard’s thinking though,


Ralph Eugene Meatyard: https://www.americansuburbx.com/2013/01/ralph-eugene-meatyard-reframing-photography-theory-and-practice-excerpt-2011.html