Stephen Bull – Photography – review

Recommended by tutor to read P45, 67-70.

The first passages is in Chapter 3 – The meaning of Photographs:

Photography and Psychoanalysis: The unconscious, Fetishism and the Uncanny [P45]
This passage focuses on ‘mental context’ i.e. “the mind of the viewer as interpreter of photographs”. The author talks about this should be taken into account when creating photographs, but points out that this is very difficult as each person has different experiences.
Sigmund Freud, however argued that people share some common experienced, desires and anxieties, such as joy, fear, angler etc.  Thinking back to my Social Science course many years ago. I would say that this also depends greatly on the culture in which they were brought up.  Freud’s psychoanalysis central idea is that of the three states on consciousness, conscious, pre-conscious and unconscious.  In relation to the unconscious, Freud agued that people repress some desires and anxieties, mostly due to social constraints and feel that they should not be expressed, discussed or acted upon.
Relating this back to Assignment 2 and the point I think Les was making, is that the images I created from my mind in an attempt to photograph the unseen are in fact unconscious reactions to the stimuli.  I was aware of this but what I think is more interesting is the fact that the images were so like ‘stock photos’.  What does that say about what is in my subconscious?

The second passage is in Chapter 4 – Photography for Sale:

From Selling Products to creating atmospheres: advertising photography and image banks.
This section focuses on how our ideas of what is desireable has been shaped by advertising and the use of ‘stock’ images to portray ‘consumer happiness’. Christina Kotchemidova suggests that ‘the indexicality of the photograph’ helps create ‘ real fantasies’ and advertisers use this to consistently reinforce the message of what life should be like, that we subconsciously desire this, but as it bears no resemblance to our realities we repress them as unconscious desires.
Is this what I have created in my images? Certainly not consciously, but it does make me question them.  The fact that I have used substitutes for myself in the form of a wooden hand and not put myself in the images, even though I am trying to describe my feelings is telling me something, about myself.  

Image 7 is probably the most ‘stock’ image.  It certainly isn’t (or wasn’t) my reality as I in order to create this image, I bought all of the crockery new and the cereal which I don’t eat!  In my head this is what breakfast on a sunny morning should look like!  Actually I really love this image, because it fulfills my vision (perhaps this vision has been fed to me, by advertising I don’t know.  

Item 7 – Stan’s Object

I was given a bowl and was told the ‘object’ was within it. There were multiple objects, which were light, sticky and round. I ran it through my fingers many times and imagined a sunny morning breakfast.

My reflection is that in creating images I do need to make a decision about what I am trying to say, is it real fantasy or an attempt at honest portrayal of the facts, or indeed like my first assignment, somewhere in the middle?

Bull S., 2010, Photography, Rutledge, New York

Assignment 2 – Feedback and Reflection

. . a thoughtful submission that fulfills brief . . .

Read Tutor Feedback report here

The first thing to say is that I again had a FaceTime conversation with Les, my tutor which I have come to really enjoy and find it so enthusing to be able to discuss and debate my ideas. Far from finding it daunting and worrying about any criticism I have learned that the conversation is really stimulating my thoughts and leading me to research places and people, I wouldn’t have found on my own. I so wish I’d started out doing this, because actually having those discussions really does help improve my work.

I also made the notes this time and submitted them for Les to amend and add references about photographers and artists we’d talked about. I’ll mention them later.

I think I ended up with more questions than answers from this assignment, but I don’t think that is a bad thing, quite the contrary. In all aspects of this assignment, I have had to discuss my objectives with people. From those that gave me items, to my husband who helped manage the process and to showing the final images to my tutor and others. If feels like a real collaboration and really helped me engage fully with the brief.

I am conscious that I mustn’t reflect and reminisce too much as I still have quite a bit of the course to complete.

I have set myself a goal to research each of the photographers, authors and artists that Les and Moira mentioned during the conversation and reflect on their link to my work for the final submission. I won’t however, attempt incorporate their ideas into Assignment 2. In stead, I think it will show better progression in my work if I incorporate it into subsequent areas of the course.

Research items:

Moira Lovell’s area of research

Stephen Bull’s – Photography p45, 67-70

Karen Barad’s On- touching – The Inhuman That therefore I Am (v1.1)

Phillyda Barlow, working with the idea of denial of touch.

Gillian Wearing’s – masks

Eva Stenram – Drapes