I have discovered something new about myself. While photographing for Beauty and the Beach… . I have allowed myself to be distracted by things I see that are not directly related to my mission. In addition, I have been discovering the capabilities of the digital darkroom, which perversely is not dark, in Lightroom, Photoshop and with Apple Photos editing. First things first, my distractions on site. It had not crossed my mind before going out that I would be as interested in containers as the subject matter, rubbish, for my project. Secondly, perhaps when a little frustrated trying to avoid clipping, distorting, over saturating colours etc. I have impulsively, or possibly in some cases mistakenly slipped with my mouse control of an adjustment bar. This has brought a sudden stop to what I was doing while I froze in disbelief that something had appeared unexpectedly and taken my breath away.
I am now researching a little more about the subject and finding artists and photographers whose styles have been described as abstract, surreal or conceptual, each of which have unique characteristics that separate it from the other two. For example, my understanding to date is that abstract expressionism is the art of showing part of something and creating an emotional response in the viewer, surrealism emulates reality and projects an intended meaning, conceptual pieces give a clear purposeful message to the beholder.
Personally influenced by Freud, Andre Breton is credited with starting the Surrealist Movement in 1924 on the publication of a manifesto. Unlike Abstract expressionists who create spontaneously, surrealist works of art are created with conscious and subconscious forethought and careful planning.The first piece considered as conceptual art, Fountain, by Marcel Duchamp (1917), preceded the pan-continents movement in the 1960s and 1970s. Conceptual art stems from the artist’s ideas and can take on many forms depending on the way the artist decides to realise their thought. As with surrealism, planning, execution and presentation is a feature (Tate, 2018).
In pursuing this research (e.g. Alegria, accessed 2018) I have discovered the work of Gerhard Richter. My photographs of containers bear a striking similarity to his paintings. Taken spontaneously and processed randomly I wonder whether my images would be considered ‘abstract’. Perhaps Gerhard Richter would use my abstract photographs (which are of physically real items) to create his abstract paintings (my whimsical and wishful thinking based on learning Gerhard Richter paints from photographs as a matter of course) (Richter, 2018).
My image resembles a city skyline in black and white and in blue the same image could depict a boat sailing across the sea. Interestingly colour has an important place in Gerhard Richter’s work. He has completed many pieces in the form of colour charts and has had ‘grey periods’ devoid of other colours as well (Richter, 2018; Tate, 2018).
I do not think any of my images would be considered surreal although I have received a comment from a tutor with a recommendation to research the surrealist movement. The same goes for conceptual art although some of my results are considered similar to Keith Arnatt’s later work (Goldschmidt,2014).
It is not that I want my work to be like or the same as other photographers. Knowing there are similarities is a double edged thing emotionally . On the one hand I could be disappointed that someone ‘got there before me’. On the other it provides a measure, against which I see that my work is developing in ways that others recognise something about my images from echoes of their knowledge and memories of the work of others. This is both flattering and encouraging and the view that I take as my learning continues.
Alegria, Federico. 8 Famous Abstract Photographers and Their Photos. phototraces.com. Travel Photography Blog. Available at: https://www.phototraces.com/creative-photography/famous-abstract-photographers/. [accessed 19-04-2018].
Goldschmidt, Michal. December 2014. Keith Arnatt: Pictures from a Rubbish Tip 1988-9. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/arnatt-pictures-from-a-rubbish-tip-t13171. [accessed 30-08-2018].
Richter, Gerhard. Available at: https://www.gerhard-richter.com/en/quotes/mediums-3/photography-16. [accessed 19-04-2018].
Tate. 2018. Conceptual Art. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/c/conceptual-art. [accessed 19-04-2018].
Tate. 2018. Gerhard Richter. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/gerhard-richter-1841. [accessed 19-04-2018].
Tate.2018. Marcel Duchamp, Fountain 1917, replica 1964. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/duchamp-fountain-t07573. [accessed 19-04-2018].