I am starting this session, the last class in the Art Photography course on the Constructed Image, with a bit of a preamble.
When an artist paints a picture they are able to extract from the scene in front of them whichever elements they like and can leave out certain aspects if these are not what they wish to represent. This is their input into the creative process. For a long time photography has not been considered art because the photographer is pointing a device at the scene and pressing a button. There is not necessarily any artistic input. I would say that this isn’t really the case and since the start of photography there has been manipulation of the image, and this continues right through. But by making a constructed image the photographer is showing they have genuine control over it and are influencing directly what is seen. So with that in mind we are considering the work of photographers who take control of the image either in the making of the photograph or through manipulation of the image.
Jeff Wall is a Canadian photographer whose pictures initially look like regular shots but are in fact completely staged. His 1982 photograph Mimic (below) shows someone in the street being racially abusive to an oriental man. A common scene in some places but one that would be very difficult to capture, so Wall staged the scene in order to show what he wanted. His photographs all take this approach to setting the scene artificially.
Gregory Crewdson lights the scenes he wishes to photograph in incredibly elaborate ways, using movie style lighting set-ups. The end results are simply stunning and somewhat surreal. These photographs are clearly major set pieces and require planning and staging to produce the final images.
AES&F is a group of 4 Russian photographers (Tatiana Arzamasova, Lev Evzovich, Evgeny Svyatsky, and Vladimir Fridkes) who use composited images to produce scenes which never existed. There are a number along the lines shown below which use a variety of images put together to produce the overall scene.
Hannah Starkey uses actors and actresses to recreate everyday scenes. One comment to this would be how different it is to asking regular individuals you are photographing to pose for the photograph (move an arm or look a particular way) but by using actors she has total control over her final image.
Sandy Skoglund takes the most amazing photographs of constructed scenes. These scenes alone must take many hundreds of hours to make. The colours a often uniform with some jarring aspect to them, as in the two below with the red foxes in a grey scene and the red rockets in the yellow room. The scenes themselves are works of art in their own right and indeed have been exhibited themselves.
So that was the last class in the course and must say I have really enjoyed looking at photographers work that I had not previously seen and they have been quite eye opening with regards to the thought processes involved in photography and the end result. Anyone reading these (I doubt anyone is and I have put this together for my own memory and further research in any event but just in case...) will note that I have passed no, or at least very little, comment on any of the works. This was my intention. Having finished the course my plan is to reflect on it and probably make some future posts on particular themes probably coupled with attempts at particular styles which have come through from the various photographers discussed.