Contextual Research, Final Project, Project Development

Final Major Project: Inspired by Haley Morris-Cafiero

Having listened to Haley Morris-Cafiero speak at a recent guest lecture, I find myself in awe of her bravery in her book, ‘The Watchers’.

In February 2013, her images from the series ‘Wait Watchers’ were published on Lenscratch. The next day they were published on Huffington Post and then in the Daily Mail newspaper. After that, the images went viral.  The comments sections on these articles were filled with anonymous comments criticising her. Many unsolicited comments were made about her weight and general appearance.

At this point, many people would have retreated into their shell and tried to ignore the criticism. Instead, Morris-Cafiero said “I love my body and these unsolicited criticisms fuelled me to make new images. I now set up a camera and record people as they pass by me while I am doing what society wants me to do: exercise and get a makeover. By attempting to “improve” myself, I am engaging in the conversation of body acceptance and idealized beauty standards that unrealistic and unwanted by many people.” (THE WATCHERS: a book of the Wait Watchers photographs 2014)

 

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Figure 1: From the Wait Watchers series 2014 Haley Morris-Cafiero

 

Morris-Cafiero has suffered from hypothyroidism since she was in college. This condition has caused her to put on weight. I can totally relate to this. I have hypothyroidism and Addison’s Disease. Both of these conditions have caused me to gain weight since 2000. It has taken me a long time to accept that this is the case. In my case, my body is also unable to regulate its own temperature (something that I still struggle to accept). When I am under greater levels of stress or excitement, my symptoms are very pronounced and I can become very sweaty very quickly.

When I am under greater levels of stress or excitement, my symptoms are very pronounced and I can become very sweaty very quickly. This was very evident during my private view where I was also being interviewed by BBC Radio Gloucestershire. I was very self-conscious of the fact my hair was wet.

 

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Figure 2: BBC Radio Gloucestershire’s Photo of me at the Private View Published on Twitter 2018 Kate Clark

 

However, thinking about what Morris-Cafiero has been doing, makes me determined to continue. The photographs and videos of me with sweaty hair have been published in this CRJ when previously I would have hidden these from other people. Whilst I have accepted for a few years know that I look the way I do, I have had trouble with accepting the sweaty appearance. Morris-Cafiero has inspired me to look past this and embrace who I am totally.

Morris-Cafiero’s images are compelling, real and raw. They represent authenticity and bravery. It is to this that I aspire.

 

REFERENCES

THE WATCHERS: a book of the Wait Watchers photographs. 2014. Kickstarter [online]. Available at: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/528118868/the-watchers-a-book-of-the-wait-watchers-photograp [accessed 14 August 2018].

 

IMAGE SOURCE

Figure 1: ‘I’ve Come To Accept My Appearance, But I’m Quickly Reminded That Others Have Not.’ An Overweight Award-Winning Photographer Documents Society’s ‘Critical Gaze’ Towards Obesity.. 2018. ViralSpell [online]. Available at: http://www.viralspell.com/ive-come-to-accept-my-appearance-but-im-quickly-reminded-that-others-have-not-an-overweight-photographer-documents-societys-critical-gaze-towards-obesity/ [accessed 14 August 2018].

Figure 2: Twitter. 2018. Twitter.com [online]. Available at: https://twitter.com/BBCGlos/status/1025669452187222022 [accessed 14 August 2018].

Contextual Research, Final Project

Final Major Project: Review of Philip Morris’s ‘Jo-Ana’ Project

The trouble with a lot of photography exhibition websites is how often a great set of images have been ruined by a poorly put together site. Philip Morris skilfully avoids this with a sensitively and clean presentation of his project ‘Jo-Ana‘.  The site can be accessed at www.jo-ana.co.uk.

Morris has produced an emotive and beautiful exhibition website that showcases his stunningly composed images. Meticulously researched, planned, and executed Morris has created such a powerful and yet gentle portrayal of such a debilitating disease. His attention to detail in each image results in beautiful images that draw the viewer in.

The words from the diary are the reminders that this is a real person’s account of their road to recovery. The inclusion and placement of personal items in each image remind us that there is more to an anorexia sufferer than them just not eating. They have lives and interests like everyone else and they are more than just the disease – it does not define who they are, it is something they are suffering with.

Each image is expertly showcased on the responsive website. The style is understated and does not intrude on the viewer’s experience of work. Viewing the sequence of images of food and pages from Jo’s diary, the visual narrative is one of despair through to hope (with a multitude of emotion in between). The viewer starts to appreciate the mental distortions that anorexics have in their relationship to food. The unhealthy thoughts recorded in the diary are sympathetically and cleverly reflected in the accompanying food images.

Viewing the sequence of images of food and pages from Jo’s diary, the visual narrative is one of despair through to hope (with a multitude of emotions in between). The viewer experiences these emotions, empathising with Jo. This means that the viewer starts to appreciate the mental distortions that anorexics experience in their relationship to food. The unhealthy thoughts recorded in the diary are sympathetically and cleverly reflected in the accompanying food images.

Stigma prevents conversation. The images in Morris’s project communicate and connect instantly with the viewer on a subconscious level. This happens before the stigma that surrounds anorexia can affect the message. Morris’s photographs start the conversation when so often words would fail.

Jo’s words are so emotional and offer hope to those currently suffering. So beautiful and thought-provoking.

Contextual Research, Final Project, Project Development

Final Major Project: Questioning the Portrait

“We can never be rid of our face. We always take it with us and always lay ourselves bare to the critical look of another”

– (Feil 2008: 29)

 

As the MA draws to the close, my experiences with the exhibition have reminded me of an article in foam magazine (winter 2008 / #17). Feil asks the reader to consider, knowing all that we know, whether we can truly trust a face.

A photograph taken in the blink of an eye when the subject is aware they are being photographed represents just a moment in time. It cannot tell us about the person. It is a functional representation of the exterior of the person. It reveals nothing about their being. Richard Avedon explained it well – “my photographs don’t go below the surface. They don’t go below anything. They’re readings of the surface.” (Avedon in Feil 2008: 33).

But my work has demonstrated that we cannot even trust what we see. Software and apps enable everyone to manipulate their face in an image. The portraits we are now exposed to online can be altered or unaltered. In some cases, the line between real and manipulated is blurred and we do not understand if what we see is genuine.

This leads me back to Suzy Lake and her work ‘A genuine simulation of…‘. Lake leads the viewer to question whether or not there is an authentic image of herself in the work. We see many images of her face in the work but each is covered in makeup, so is it truly her?

So we are left with the question whether or not any photograph that we see can be considered a genuine representation of the person or scene. Or are all photographs simulations? I leave you to consider that.

 

REFERENCE

Feil, M. 2008. “Questioning the Portrait”. In foam, (#17), 28-34.

Contextual Research, Final Project, Project Development

Final Major Project: Research – Selfie Habits Questionnaire – Answers

Amazingly my questionnaire (original post),  has so far received 252 responses. Although I haven’t used the results in this particular body of work, they will be analysed and taken further as I develop the project into a PhD proposal.

 

RESULTS:

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Contextual Research, Final Project

Final Major Project: Review of Philip Singleton’s Zine ‘Birmingham Dust’

Birmingham Dust is definitely one of the most polished and professional zines that I have come across. The zine provides the documentation of buildings that are decaying. But it is so much more than that, as Singleton has not only observed the loss of these buildings, but he has found beauty where others would consider there to be none.

The short introduction points out that “dust surrounds the neglected” and that “dust is the gritty manifestation of death by demolition” (Singleton 2018). Often gaining access to buildings immediately prior to their demolition, Singleton is able to record their last breath, providing a lasting trace of the splendour that once was.

In Birmingham Dust, the photographic documentation is the most important part of the process. However, it is not simply a case of documenting what may soon disappear. The work makes sense when viewed as a collection as well as just single instances. Together the images tell of the splendour and beauty in spaces long forgotten.

The work is powerful and emotive; the content would generally be overlooked by passers-by, the scenes before them becoming part of the ‘noise’ of the urban landscape.  These soon to be lost scenes have in Singleton’s skillful hands become artwork, forever to be recorded and remembered.

The zine is beautifully presented, printed on dark grey with clean white lines breaking up the images. The map of locations adds context and significance to the forgotten spaces. The lithographic printing process adds a certain quality and importance to the images. Singleton reminds us not forget what came before. These buildings are part of our heritage and history.

The glossy fold out in the centre is stunning and the highlight of the publication. The graduation of tones in the images adds a great deal of depth and detail to each one. The images jump off the pages at the viewer and make them take note at the captured moment in time; the paused moment (to use the words of Singleton).

This zine is the first of hopefully many that Singleton will produce.

 

REFERENCE

Singleton, P. 2018. Birmingham Dust.

Contextual Research, Final Project, Project Development

Final Major Project: Lev Manovich – ‘Anti-Selfie”

Anti-selfie. – Normally we think of a selfie as a photo that shows a person looking towards a camera, so her/his face is visible. However, this is just one instantiation of “person/people in a situation/experience” image type. In anti-selfie genre, a photo shows person’s body but not her/his face.”

– (Manovich and Tifentale 2016: 20)

 

 

REFERENCES

Manovich, L. and Tifentale, A. 2016. Manovich.net [online]. Available at: http://manovich.net/content/04-projects/090-competitive-photography-and-the-presentation-of-the-self/competitive_photography_at_lm_2016_2018.pdf [accessed 20 July 2018].

Contextual Research, Final Project, Project Development

Final Major Project: Lev Manovich – Quotes from ‘Competitive Photography and the Presentation of the Self’

To know how to communicate via photographs shared on social media is becoming a basic social skill.

– (Manovich and Tifentale 2016: 4)

 

“Instagram and competitive photography – For many Instagram users, the main goal is to get more “likes,” to make images that will be “successful” and “popular,” and this task requires having advanced level of visual literacy.”

– (Manovich and Tifentale 2016: 5)

 

“Selfies are not self-portraits in traditional art-historical sense. They do not show a person isolated from their environment, as both self-portraits and portraits often did historically (think for example of self-portraits by Rembrandt and van Gogh). Instead, they are records of events, activities, experiences, and situations that include the photo’s author. The background of a typical selfie photo identifies the place, and shows the activity and the ambience of this place. In this way, the person(s) in the selfie become part of a situation, rather being shown in isolation.”

– (Manovich and Tifentale 2016: 19)

 

 

REFERENCES

Manovich, L. and Tifentale, A. 2016. Manovich.net [online]. Available at: http://manovich.net/content/04-projects/090-competitive-photography-and-the-presentation-of-the-self/competitive_photography_at_lm_2016_2018.pdf [accessed 20 July 2018].

Contextual Research, Final Project, Project Development

Final Major Project: Richard Jenkins Quote

“The internal and the external dance together in the unfolding of individual and collective identities. And although those identities are imagined, they are not imaginary.”

– (Jenkins, 2004: 183)

 

REFERENCES

Jenkins, R. (2004). Social identity. London: Routledge.

 

Contextual Research, Final Project

Final Major Project: Souza et al Quote

“Social media … has seen a rapid uptake of pictures containing human faces. One notable example is the selfie or digital self-portrait, which have become a phenomenal ubiquitous convention of online culture.”

– (Souza et al 2015)

 

REFERENCE

Souza, F. et al. 2015. “Dawn of the Selfie Era: The Whos, Wheres, and Hows of Selfies on Instagram”. Semanticscholar.org [online]. Available at: https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Dawn-of-the-Selfie-Era-The-Whos-Wheres-and-Hows-of-Souza-Casas/063ade4e5a830da0bcb66c073ba9a388894f0deb [accessed 3 August 2018].