The Self and The Other

OCA study blog | Andrew Fitzgibbon

A5: research | visual

As I read around my topic of ‘stories from the woods’, I’m leaning towards a perspective that reflects man’s projection of his identity onto the landscape. Joel Sternfeld’s writing the ‘calamitous sublime’ informs this. At this stage I’m not sure whether it is possible to achieve this through portraiture in the woods – it might need to be hinted at through contextual words separate from the images. I would want to avoid any suggestion that volunteer subjects were somehow directly connected with environmental destruction!

I’ve been thinking about the look and content of the photographs. They will be environmental portraits and I think back to the first diagnostic exercise in the course. Something that appealed in some of the photos in Portraits of Resilience (see here) was the sense of being able to reach out and touch while standing before them. They were framed so that viewer felt intimacy, that we’d also need to show something of ourselves. It removed the sense of being an observer from a short distance (so not even voyeuristic) and changed it to an imperative for engagement with the other. It is this type of contact that I would like to bring to my series. So, a standard or wide angle lens will be used.

In terms of content of the images, I would like the series to connect man and environment to reflect the notion of self as something interconnected and interdependent on others and the environment. While the environmental portraits will be framed to show something of the surroundings, a series has the capacity to communicate through a mix of portrait and landscape images and say more about the connection with self. Joel Sternfeld’s work is something I admire in this regard – it does not say landscape or portraiture, but something of both (a story) – https://www.joelsternfeld.net/artworks/2018/3/25/campagna-romana-the-countryside-of-ancient-rome.

source: joelsternfeld.com @joel sternfeld

Similarly, Alec Soth’s Sleeping by the Mississippi follows a similarly varied approach to subject matter content.

It is now snowing outside – I need to decide whether to persevere with a planned shoot or postpone!

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