Technical Images of Flux
2017 - ongoing
This project is an attempt to challenge the traditional view that photographs are an objective record of the world ‘out there’ and to explore whether the camera can be used to document scenes and events which did not exist – but which were created by the act of photographing them.
This project challenges the popular assumption that photographs are the product of (the interaction of) three factors:
- The appearance and/or behaviour of the thing/s in front of the lens
- The photographer’s intention: what we want to show you
- The photographer’s expertise in using the camera (and its attendant tools and techniques) in pursuit of our intended result
The first reflects the belief that photographs are an accurate record of ‘something out there’ which ‘really did look like that’ at the moment and from the perspective at which it was photographed. This assumption is both reflected in the popular description of photographs as ‘taken’.)
The second reflects the belief that the camera is a passive tool under the control of the photographer/practitioner whose decisions (including the decision not to exert control) determine both the content and the appearance of the image.
The third reflects the belief that the content and appearance of the resulting image is shaped by the expertise with which the photographer/practitioner made and carried out these decisions.
This project seeks to ‘re-frame’ photography as an active (or an act of) collaboration between medium and practitioner.
In the first phase of the project, the camera was held above the water and the human figure below. In the second phase, these positions were reversed. In the third phase, the human figure was replaced by natural and/or architectural elements.
In all three phases, the photographs are the result of the ‘unanticipable’ interaction of three factors: the constant changes in the surface texture of the water, the compression of planes by the camera, and the delay between pressing the button and the release of the shutter. Furthermore, as the appearance of the elements, their juxtaposition within the frame, and the moment at which they were recorded could not have been witnessed or anticipated by any human observer, I submit that the resulting scenes and moments recorded in these photographs did not exist in any meaningful sense of the term until they were created by the act of photographing them.
This project and the basis for the argument that the resulting images were not ‘there’ to be ‘taken’ is explored in my article Is This Photograph Taken? published in the Journal of Visual Art Practice.
The photographs in this project are all ‘straight’ photographs. In some cases, I have increased brightness and/or contrast, increased colour saturation, and ‘spotted out’ bubbles. In a small proportion of cases (indicated in the filename as ‘detail’), I have cropped the images, but I have not otherwise manipulated (Photoshopped) the results.