Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Night and the Lights

I've been working on this for a few weeks now and I'm finding it difficult to articulate what it is exactly I'm doing. Sometimes it seems to be referring to cinematic light, or the lighting you'd find in a photographic studio. But it's always found lighting, and the things that become lit are given this odd sort of significance; as if they were meant to be there, and are in some way important. It's led me to wonder what it is exactly that lighting bestows on a person or object or space, why it has this power to lend significance. I've photographed these scenes wherever a certain kind of lighting occurs and the things that are lit are supposedly insignificant - rubbish, posts, gates, trees (possibly too many trees...), bushes, gutters, the ground even. I like the idea that, in a way, it's naturally occuring, yet inherently artificial.

As I do more research on photographers that have influenced me or new photographers that have explored similar themes I find myself increasingly becoming alternately inspired and confused. More ideas are generated but this leads to a muddying of intentions, so I sometimes feel like I'm losing track of the point. But it seems to be coming together a little more recently. Writing this stuff helps.

Related to this idea I think is the idea of disconnection when taking a photograph... I haven't thought about this properly yet but I've had to take photos recently of photo-books for projects and such. It's strange how easy it is to forget that the subject is this amazing work by an artist you love and admire when all you're looking at is how well exposed the image is, if the page around it is white or off-white, whether the page is in focus etc and you just don't see a great photographer's work, all you see is a set of criteria. I also feel that when taking a person's photograph there's a sense of scaling the person down, almost turning them into the same set of criteria by which you'd judge any other photograph. It's like micro-managing the world or something...

So this relates to this project in the sense that I'm sort of confronting a fear (the dark) by placing it in the confined context of a photograph, where everything is managed and controlled, where the attention is drawn, 
momentarily, to the photograph of the surroundings and away from the surroundings themselves. It's like dealing with a difficult situation by avoidance, or even denial. And when it's a digital photo it becomes all the more immediate and powerful. I watched a guy take a photo recently; I saw him see the scene (a building beside a river); then stop; then take out the camera; focus, adjust; take the photo; then walk away looking at the photo on the back of the camera. I watched him till he was out of sight and not once did he look back at the building. He'd captured the sight/site and stored it for later perusal, safe in the knowledge that the camera would do his remembering for him. In this way his world is managed, memory and experience almost usurped by record and document. It's a dislocation of your emotions where you choose when to remember and define your experience by looking at images displayed on a glowing rectangle.