This assignment calls for the construction of a stand-alone image of our choice. Alternatively, a series can be chosen, elaborating on the same theme.
The only stipulation is that the work must be controlled and directed by ourselves for a specific purpose.
Last year the police received one call relating to domestic violence for every minute in the UK. That’s an estimated 1,300 calls a day or over 570,000 each year. Research also points to domestic abuse increasing sharply amongst newly married couples.
There were many considerations to work through on how best to portray such a sensitive subject, without being too clichéd. The ‘show and not tell‘ element was also uppermost in my mind.
It was when I began reading through a number of riddles written by primary school aged children, that the idea became more focused as to how the narrative could support the imagery. From this the idea of portraying the scene in a scrapbook style presentation, evolved.
It can be argued that the narrative or text accompanying an image is naturally assumed to link the two; there is an element of trust that some kind of relationship exists or is inferred, and is the intention in this assignment’s final image. Other factors such as signs and symbols are also clues to which the reader interprets. This is an attempt to fully understand the visual topic in its entirety.
Inference was therefore a key element in constructing the following image. Identifying just one key symbol to support it, was crucial to the final outcome, unless more than one was deemed necessary. It had to act as a fine balance between supporting the central image without overwhelming it. Text and the manner in which it was depicted, was also important, together with colour or the lack of it.
Considering all of these elements as a whole brought into question the style in which the image should be conveyed. The hard-hitting element of the subject needed to be carefully placed. Such considerations were; would colour be too overwhelming, how much of the overall image should be taken up with such a disturbing aspect, and in what proportion to this should the accompanying text be.
The resulting image is shown below;
The central image in full colour, without the addition of any supporting elements came over as quite brutal; too brutal it was felt in the context of the intended outcome.
As a way of softening the impact of such an image, and diminishing the ‘apparent’ gravity of the situation, colour was removed, although the yellow strip remained; a diversion and natural break for the viewers gaze. It also had the effect of adding slightly more of a three-dimensional quality.
The subject’s gaze is down and away from the camera, in a non-confrontational manner, which was felt more in tandem with the perceived background situation that had resulted in the injury.
In keeping with the intended ‘scrapbook’ style, the decision was made to add a border to the central shot.
One consideration when adding the border was whether the overall impact of the shot had been diluted in some way. In essence it was ‘a photo of a photo’.
This in turn made the placing of the tiara more difficult. It was intended to denote the marital setting, but again to give the image more of a 3D effect, and to offset the isolation of the subject.
To offset the image, several symbolic items were trialled, firstly as a way of placing the subject in a marital setting, and secondly to add a juxtapositioning; each highlighting the other, as shown in the images below;
The wedding veil due to its small proportion in the frame, was too insignificant; and was open to too much interpretation. The tiara both contrasted and supported the image simultaneously.
The next consideration was the accompanying text; the riddle was childlike but too simplistic against the image. The lines were altered from ‘I am’ to ‘He is’, with the intention of alluding to a male, and the word ‘compliant’ was added to give a glimpse of the subject’s behaviour.
This also impacted on the images’ orientation, and ratio to the subject. What was deemed more or as important to the central image?
Deciding that the two were equal then raised the question of how to align the two. The child’s writing created the right balance and enhanced the gravity of the image. Tearing the text from the page also aided in balancing the overall composition, and tied in with the violent theme.
The following image shows the final setup, using natural light, which reduced any possible flare spots from the glare of the paper;
In post-production the main adjustments were done to contrast and brightness, to slightly separate the tiara from the background a little more, and to increase the density of text.
The final image as intended, conveys the aftermath of domestic violence in a marital setting, alluding to the male partner as the antagonist.
In truth the image simply portrays someone with a severe, but painless eye infection, set against a child’s riddle taken from a school project (albeit the riddle has been adjusted for the benefit of the assignment).
This project has highlighted how suggestion and the marrying of text and imagery, reinforces our perception of a situation that is not always as it seems.
Simply being presented with facts that allude to the image’s content, reinforces our beliefs and preconceptions surrounding it. Assumption and pre-determined beliefs further our resolve on what is fact and what is fiction.
It is slightly akin to having a jigsaw, with all pieces present, but not necessarily in the right order.
Imagery is very powerful, but an accompanying narrative steers the image towards an intended ending, and not always a happy or accurate one.
Manipulating the clues to achieve the desired outcome also highlights how each part of an image is intrinsically linked. Adding or removing a particular element can considerably lessen the intended outcome, or steer it in another direction entirely.
Although I was satisfied with the eventual outcome, I feel the build-up to making a decision as to which topic to use, was too long-winded. This is a recurring theme, and is usually a result of trying to produce an Oscar-winning piece but without the budget of Gregory Crewdson.
I need to scale down my aspirations and possible list of subject material earlier in the decision-making process.
Making a more large-scale production would have been an ideal, but it was decided to just try and work within the time and subject material which was more readily available.
By taking a ‘photo of a photo’, I was also working slightly outside of my comfort zone by concentrating more on concepts that technical issues with the reduced lack of quality in the resulting image.
One area which is also an ongoing learning process includes documenting a projecting as it evolves. My brain does not tend to think in a step-by-step, ordered method. It is more a scattergun approach as ideas evolve and overlap each other. At times, stopping to capture or document the process gets in the way, and stop the flow of ideas, although when writing up the assignment, I am exasperated at not recording more of the process.
Feedback from my previous assignment mentioned that my introduction was not as strong the main body, so I have researched more the nuts-and-bolts of essay writing and tried to structure it in a more coherent manner, with a better flow.
The main impediment to doing this for both this and the previous assignment, is the strict word limit. It is very difficult to expand on any theory in just 1000 words. At best a subject can be touched upon, but there is very little scope to expand it.
The end result is an erratic piece of writing as words are felled to try and keep within the limit, but whilst still trying to at least allude to a particular topic, although I understand the intention in setting such a limit, and try to cover all pertinent aspects within the constraints.
In this assignment I have not included artists whose work I have viewed, simply due to the word count limit, and have instead tried keeping to the letter of the brief.
In this instance I don’t feel that the assignment is lacking, but would prefer to include these elements in future work.