The Photograph as Contemporary Art

Charlotte Cotton – 3rd Edition

The book that arrived with my course pack has been gaining creases in its binding as I keep picking up and putting down the text browsing through the images. I’ve decided to start making notes on the artists and images that I find most interesting as a starting block for my further research alongside the suggested reading from the modules.

Heres a few of my chosen works so far including one which I found a conflict with artistically.

Shizuka Yokomizo – Stranger (10)

Shizuka Yokomizo – Stranger (10), I found this image interesting not purely because of the intimacy of the setting, shooting a portrait through the individuals window at home, but also because of the setup. The artist contacted resident of the houses photographed with instructions to follow at a set time. The thought of people engaging in the work with no real connection to the image other than the request intrigues me. I always wonder what the artist did to entice people to partake, mainly for selfish reasons as I would like this approach in my own work.

Erwin Wurm – Outdoor Sculpture

Erwin Wurm – Outdoor Sculpture, this image really interested me again for its engagement of third parties who act out of a request in the moment. I find the reactions of people to the challenge interesting. The way he has prepared the scene and defined the objective beforehand is something I want to develop in my own work. To set a scene as if it was completely natural yet completely predefined to achieve the vision.

Zhang Huan – To Raise the Water Level in a Fish Pond

Zhang Huan – To Raise the Water Level in a Fish Pond, another image to appeals to my desire to feature people in my work in a way that is composed yet apparently natural. I also really enjoy the distribution of the subjects throughout the frame creating depth and intrigue through out the image. Theres also the depth within the water, what is below?, the question of way they are there and in that particular distribution. The loos on their faces of mild disdain almost questioning why we the viewer are in their space.

Philip-Lorca diCorcia – Head #7

Philip-Lorca diCorcia – Head #7, I particularly enjoy the use of light here to isolate the subject. It feels almost studio shot, but the umbrella just exposed and the water covering the hat and shoulders shows the image is outdoors but without a context of location. I find it draws me into questioning where this was, for me my thoughts travel to places I know and visited. I also wonder why the subject is shrugged over, are they feeling down?, what is on their mind?, the obvious older age from the face of the subject makes me feel they regret something or miss someone. Knowing this was a street shot in NYC, a place I know well, intrigues me with the technique but almost clashes with my experience of the city. Personally I would have preferred the ambiguity of not knowing.

Melanie Manchot – Gestures of Demarcation VI

Melanie Manchot – Gestures of Demarcation VI, This is an image which I feel I should like, the staged objective, the absurd posture and action of the subjects, the natural feeling of the way the image is framed and shot. But, to me at least, it feels absurd for the sake of absurdity. I don’t feel the same question of why and what as I do when presented with other images of a similar ilk. I’m un certain of whether I feel this way after many years of being exposed to this style of imagery through fashion photographers such as Terry Richardson. The 2000’s was an era where I felt surrounded by creators looking to capture something outrageous in the 1970’s instamatic family photo style. I just immediately think, that’s for camera.

I’ll revisit the book several more times as I find it a good tipping off point for building further knowledge and experience of different themes and intent. Going forward I will look into the collections featured and also the artists chosen as I am sure I will find more in their work to challenge my thoughts and style.

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