Whats Real Anyway? - The truth behind looking..?
Ken Rockwell http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/notcamera.htm
Digital Photos, as we all know, are created by a technology which is determined by several incredibly clever factors; a preset sequence of binary codes; electrons recording photons and making assumptions like lossy or lossless compression; quantum efficiencies which equate to the level of photons recorded; crop factors and so on - the technical strengths and indeed marvellousness of modern DSLR cameras mean that nowadays, the camera can literally 'see' what we see and more. Therefore, with DSLR photography, what we actually see, particularly with high end cameras is more about the photographer in the sense that he/she can control and manipulate the final outcome of a photoshoot in many ways.
There is, of course, another element to photography, which is completely nothing to do with the equipment or the photographer. By this, I refer to the way the photograph is perceived by the viewer. I have become increasingly interested in the way that different people can view the same image with completely different opinions as to the content which is why in this module I intend to explore reality from this as well as an aesthetic perspective.
By the time the camera has recorded the raw data, the photographer has manipulated the image and applied his or her own narrative and a viewer has perceived the image, interpreted it and asserted his or her own narrative onto the image, a little like Chinese whispers – how far removed is the image in translation from whence it began?
So in essence, is it possible, depending on the photographer - that a DSLR potentially shows us as much 'truth' and 'reality' as being there ourselves? Or do we, as the viewer, change that truth and reality to suit our own predisposition?
For all the DSLR's flashy technologically advanced soft and hardware, is 'crappy' camera photography perceived by the viewer to be more 'truthful'?
When I think of the work 'Rays a Laugh', by Richard Billingham, the 'reality' is likely that the high contrast colours and tones are exaggerated far beyond the 'real' because of the harshness of the flash light used and the poor quality of the technology of the camera - here is an example of what we see, we don't get! and yet, this feels more honest, humble, more raw and less 'presented' than its glossy counterpart - the DSLR photo.
To me, the crappy camera feels more instant and therefore less contrived. Obviously it is more instant, but the images feel like they are taken with less time, less composition, framing, posing, less everything - but much more because of it. The success of the crappy camera artist, is in the in-built automatic application of these skills. Much like when you drive somewhere and arrive safely without remembering your journey, you shoot the crappy camera with your emotions and senses rather than with an awareness of the technology of the DSLR.
A shot taken like Billinghams on a DSLR might just look like a crap shot, the crappy camera transforms this into something else and tells us something deeper about the artist and of course ourselves.
Here we see glossy polished features, even amongst the grit and grime of the location and subject, but we don't 'feel' it in quite the same way.
I have previously been preoccupied with making work by trialling different view points and DLSR camera equipment. Now, I intend to explore the same theme but seeing if I can create a more 'real' 'reality' by using alternative technology for capturing my shots and by measuring the reaction from the viewers.
I plan to do this by working through a number of initial ideas:
- Experimenting with 35mm film and a mobile phone to capture street photography. This will explore a different aesthetic and method. In order to capture the images, I will need to be very close to my subjects so this will be interesting to see how that feels and looks.
- I am going to ask my children (aged 3 & 7) to describe what they see when shown individual and selections of photos to see how the innocence of a child's mind changes the meaning and/or perception of the photos and whether this adds anything to my work.