Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Gone Hunting

(Girl Chewing on Bubblegum, by John Smith, 1976)

On a bench looking towards the giant field in Prospect Park you can see a diverse collection of people from all sorts of category interact and traverse across the scene.  One can really "people watch" here while taking note of the commonalities of the scene.  From the ethnicities to the social groups to class the greater the diversity the more complex the community becomes.  One time I was interested in gender role shifts from then to now as I observed how many men were carrying their babies over women.  Then to further divide this group I noted how they were carrying their babies; were they using a stroller or was the baby attached to their chest or even back.  By observing how well are we able to gain insight into an area and its inhabitants?  Does observation tell us what kind of people live in this neighborhood or area and how do we classify this area.
In the representation of the real, one must gain a significant insight into the real.  Between interview and conversational exchange to silently observing I hope to conduct my research into two modes: one of approach and intervention and the other removed from my subject.  To observe without interferes I hope to create a representation of the outsider and to further this sense of being removed and outside the aesthetic will be in the matter of a certain type of documentary style.  The other representation, that of the case study will present the voice of the individual by video documentary to portraits of the subjects looking contemplative, the ideal image of the true self.  By splitting the approach into two modes and documentary styles the question of which one represents the everyday with more truth; the observation without voice or the documentary film and constructed portraiture.

(Abandoned Shelter, New York, 2012)
(Hideaway, from We Soon Be Nigh!, 2012)

Gone Hunting is the first phase in which the construction of an urbanized hide will be used to observe the urban environment.  Camouflaged with the aesthetics of the makeshift urban shelter, one which is a product of found objects, the hide will be placed on the street corner for the course of a day as a video camera documents the street activity in its removed position.  The port where the camera will observe from when seen from the outside will be shadowy and dark with the camera's lens hidden.  The necessity of the hide's hiddenness is paramount as it is in the wild, to become invisible so that observation can be done without notice of the subjects being observed.  The power of the lens on the subject's consciousness is able to shift the natural character of the subject into an exhibitionist –one which is aware of self image, the representation, and of the echo of the image captured which posses an infinitude of circulation.  After this phase comes the second portion which is to approach the subject and to give them a voice which in turns changes the perception of them, from anonymous to having a name and a story.  Their poses are dictated by the moment and by the director of the photographer.  Their facial expression is dictated between direction to a moment caught in-between, the nature of the subject coming into the moment for a moment.  The expression which is capture is not one of which poses anything natural but one that is constructed in collaboration between the subject and the documentarian.  The exchange between the two parties creates the dynamic in the image, and through editing ultimately the author is the master of the representation.  But regardless of how the image is handled or controlled there between the lines is a fragmented representation of the real, just as the hidden camera captures, both approaches question representation of the real.  And when replicated in a staged setting with actors this representation is then questioned further as what we see is uncanny in its resemblance to the real.  In some cases, such as watching a hollywood film or viewing a staged photograph, through relation to the image and the ability to interpellate to the subject and the subject matter we are able to connect with what we see better than real footage of the everyday, the photograph of a stranger from the street.

No comments: