I have been influenced by two artists in particular recently: Georges Rousse and (later) Richard T. Walker. Along with my course, they have encouraged me to think further about creative landscape photography.
Here, I have put together an (edited) collection of some of my most lucid and relevant notes and ideas, which I have been taking and developing, which has, to a certain degree, been influenced by the aforementioned artists and my course.
I was quite adamant in regards to finding a way to be creative in my photography and was quite sure there was something to be found with photographs within photographs I had begun experimenting with in Digital Photographic Practice. However, I found it difficult to develop this idea further; particularly within a ‘traditional’ landscape sense. I was aware of photographs within photographs being used effectively as a kind of ‘installation’ within an environment as in the work of Rousse’s entire oeuvre and Walker’s ‘us through this’ (2013) landscape series but was finding it tough to implement it within my own work.
My thoughts consisted of:
How about the photograph within a photograph appearing quite obviously as Art on an easel within a scene?
This scene would be represented by a photograph within the photograph. The easel prop would be making a definite statement that the photograph was ‘art’ but at the same time would be a practical way of getting the photograph to appear in the scene; namely staying upright! The photograph on the easel only ‘makes sense’, when seen from a certain angle; namely directly behind it. This ‘certain angle’ illusion is similar to Rousse’s installations; his are a form of ‘earth art’, where paint was used to show the illusion, only visible from a certain angle. My interpretation could be of landmarks. With these landmarks; the picture is taken beforehand in the same location, placed in the same location but with people and props around it like it’s a film set!
Eventually I strayed away from this idea because I felt it was not very subtle and instead decided to concentrate on an alternative method, which would be subtler and on preferably a smaller scale. Therefore I started to question photographs in physical space and implications of this notion.
Maybe each photograph makes sense when viewed from the angle of the final photograph. Georges Rousses’s photographs are often like a portal into another world so maybe mine could be a portal out of a world? Into reality!? This would be because in my opinion, with photographs, you, the viewer, always try to resolve the photograph into your reality anyway.
The photograph within a photograph could be massive (in print size) to reflect the nature of landscapes in general – grand objects of power – but how to implement that into a photograph realistically? Your ‘landscapes’ could profusely incorporate figures into them, so much so that they are almost portraits with a hint of landscape. Just by investigating the notion of photography within photographs and experimenting, you might find something that makes semantical sense… If these were pictures in pictures it could be like you were looking into the window of the soul?
I then began to wonder how I would physically place the photographs within photographs in that physical space:
- photo album
- collage on wall
- on gift
The problem is all of these are relatively small in size, whereas landscapes tend to be of a grand scale
The other question I had to ask myself is why a picture in a picture would exist there?? – Still has to have a semantic reasoning… Do photographs even really exist outside anymore, they’re hardly printed (apart from billboards). If placed against a wall, that is typically how we see a photograph. It could act like a kind of secret door/wardrobe (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis – (1950)) to another world.
I realised I was attempting to take the viewer out of their reality and into mine or my journey
Eventually, I referred back to my work in Digital Photographic Practice, particularly Assignment 3 and Assignment 5, where I had used flat surfaces as a kind of ‘platform’ for photographs, into which the viewer saw something else associated. It was this referring back that finally helped me to realise I could use the flat surface of a t-shirt as a platform for the photograph within photograph. At the same time, the photograph on the t-shirt would fit well into the eventual scene, provided someone was wearing it.
The semantics behind this would be that the landscape was apparent ‘through me’ – similar to Walker’s ‘us through this’ (2013) series, while at the same time it was a ’touristy’ shot, where a tourist might take a ‘selfie’. How it would differ from the typical ‘selfie’ shots that are prevalent nowadays though, would be that it simultaneously shows a ‘window through the soul’ of the person who’s selfie is being taken; showing perhaps that they were at one with their landscape environment at that moment in time.
Rousse, G. (2003), Rüsselsheim 2003 [Photograph] Available at: http://www.georgesrousse.com/en/archives/article/georges-rousse-in-ruesselsheim/ [Accessed 22 Jun. 2015]
Walker, R. (2013). us through this. [Photograph] Available at: http://www.richardtwalker.net/us-through-this [Accessed 22 Jun. 2015].