1.1, 1.2, 2.1

Term 3 has kicked off, bringing with it our third project of the year: Dreams/Reality. A brief so wide even M&S wouldn’t sell it. And here it is:

By researching artists and photographers, you are to produce a set of images which show an experimental approach and investigate the line between dreams and reality. It’s an opportunity to get creative and use your imagination! Use the photographic techniques you have learned during the past two terms (either studio or location) to produce a set of around 5 photographs. You are expected to develop a body of work which explores and analyses materials and techniques.

Included was a list of photographers that we might or might not want to include in our research:

Cindy Sherman, Gregory Crewdson, Duane Michals, Jeff Wall, Vincent Laforet (tilt & shift technique), Jenny Saville (Closed Contact series), Bruce Nauman (Study of Holograms series), Sam Taylor-Woods, William Eggleston, Wolfgang Tillmans, Sarah Moon, Joel Sternfeld, Arno Rafael Minkkinen, Francesca Woodman, Ernst Haas, Alex Prager, Juno Calypso and, finally, Lorenzo Vitturi.

I spent an evening tracking them all down on the internet and having my own private viewing. And, boy, if ever I needed proof that art is subjective/beauty lies in the eye of the beholder etc. etc. that evening delivered it. I’ve highlighted in bold the artists that I felt an immediate connection to. They’re my “Wow Gang.” The others either provoked no reaction at all or left me cold to the point where, at times, I was totally perplexed as to why they’d even bothered to take the shot. I could see why these artists might have made it on to the list yet I felt no connection. Or if I did, it was only fleetingly. Cindy Sherman’s Untitled Film Stills – a series that featured Sherman herself, posing as fictitious characters in various cinematic-style set-ups – was a case in point.


Untitled Film Still #48 1979, reprinted 1998 by Cindy Sherman born 1954
Untitled Film Still #48 – © Cindy Sherman, 1979.


Take Sherman’s Untitled Film Still #48: a grainy black and white image of a bobby-socked young woman, seemingly abandoned at the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. Now that I got. Highlighted against a grey, ominous wilderness; a lone suitcase at her feet, Sherman stands – back to camera – looking out into the blackening beyond. There’s a naive vulnerability to her pose and, with it, a sense of impending menace. Yet, oddly, she seems relaxed, at peace. Could be it’s not all doom and gloom. Maybe she’s actually at the start of a phenomenal adventure and looking back at her past – the domineering husband she’s just escaped, say – rather than where she’s going. Or maybe she really is about to be hacked to death (by the domineering husband or A. N. Other). Who knows; but that confusion caused, that juxtaposition of hope and fear? Brilliant. Yet the rest of her work did sweet FA for me. And perhaps that’s to be expected? That to hope to connect with someone’s entire body of work – to demand perfection – is unrealistic?

Right, off to the members’ preview of The Tate’s “Shape of Light – 100 Years of Photography and Abstract Art” for some real-life inspiration, including work by Antony Cairns, see below. (Sadly, the Sherman photograph above hangs in the Liverpool Tate, so won’t be able to check it out at close-quarters) More thoughts on photographers that inspire me, or not, and why, to follow.


Antony Cairns, LDN5_051 2017 © Antony Cairns

One thought on “DREAMS V REALITY – PROJECT 3

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