I work both in film and photography, and have felt that neither discipline has been satisfying for me in it’s own right and could not seem to get to the core of the problem. Now that I am reading and reserching the material, and doing course tasks, it is becoming clear what the problem is, and what I have been encountering, I’ve understood it conceptually, but not practically.
The film-making process, is a very collaborative art form (performance art) and for me it has been very difficult to have an autonomous voice. It always has to be a team discussion and decision, every step of the way. Even as director, one depends on the whims, fancies, and decisions, of every actor, crew member and technician, the list goes on.
I always chuckle when I see at the beginning of a film, a title that says: A FILM BY: and names a director as if they made the film alone. Does this individual ever think for a moment that the film could be made alone, without the collaborations of many other artists, performers and writers? I have come to realise critically that this is a by-product of the film discipline especially in commercial film-making.
In photography, I have always felt that it’s an art form for sure, but not satisfying enough for me on the creative end. It’s too two dimensional, and have been searching for ways to change the shape of it, into a form with more dimensionality and depth metaphorically for me and in my practice.
Some time ago in my searching for answers. I became interested in painters and sculptors. I had read something Picasso said (which I am still looking to locate). to the effect, that if one wants to learn about painting, don’t ask a painter. In other words, look outside your discipline or metier. These words started my journey to look into other disciplines besides film and photography and I looked into painting and more recently sculpture.
I started seeing images and forms that interested me, and this is how I became interested in abstraction which lead on further into non-objective works like Malevich. Even though, I understood this on some level conceptually, (since film school back in the day, having watched works of Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp and many others) I still, did not realise concretely, how does this relate to me and my practice. I realised part of it boils down to finding my own voice and this only came later, and by accident. Once realising this, the question arose: How do I do it? Researching other artists works, both in my discipline and outside of it, helped, however it has it’s own subset of problems. I do not want to be a carbon copy, nor a cheap replica of someone else.
About a year back, I had an accident with my camera, I almost dropped it. In saving it from the fall, I tripped the shutter accidentally. The image that happened as a result, was amazing, or at least I thought so. That was the initiating incident. It showed me that the camera can be used as an eye into the other worldly, of abstraction and non-objectivity, that I cannot see with my own eyes. It is indeed an instrument, that has opened my eyes, in turn allowing me to work in my own voice.
The course has recapped on the works of Muybridge and other individuals that have used the instrument to see things invisible to to naked eye, and used the camera as the tool to do it, albeit for scientific purposes. They had figured it out. but I had not. My almost dropping my camera, has led me to be able to do this, artistically, which up until that moment in time, I never realised possible. Weird, that it was indeed a moment, and in my discipline,that gave me that opportunity. I wasn’t in another discipline, that I suddenly realised that I had to be a painter or sculptor. No! it was in photography, the medium I love and understand technically, but searching how to harness it creatively.
That ‘accident’ has changed my whole life. I feel that it was a ‘gift’ that had been given me after decades of study and searching into finding myself. Not an easy task. Now I sit at the edge of that journey. An edge because I have a long road ahead, but with a difference. Whether photography as a window or mirror, tool or paintbrush, two or three dimensional, shape or form, Matisse, Rothko, Malevich or Cesar, Maholy, Man Ray, I don’t feel guilty anymore, or a copy. I feel that they have come to aid me. A cup of water in the heat, a bed for the night, a roof over my head, on this journey I make, step by step.
The concretising of sound ( my voice) into image. The transformation or concretisation of one form into another, the changing of lead into gold, the journey of the alchemist, is well documented, since times long ago.
More to come…