Thursday, 25 February 2010

Surrealist Explorations.

In attempting to work with images that are archetypal in nature and therefore in the realm of the unconscious, albeit the collective rather than the personal unconscious, it makes sense to draw on surrealist imagery and art as inspiration. Thus far my explorations of surrealist photography have not led to much that has proved helpful, with the exception of Joel Peter-Witkin (thanks Adam!), though this work is both darker and vastly more explicit than I feel is warranted or indeed desired in this project. Also it has a very different more cluttered aesthetic than my style. I did find the quote below by him that I really like and he has really helped me think in a much wider way about what kind of images it is possible to create (though will be staying away from corpses, of that much I am certain!!)

"I think that what makes a photograph so powerful is the fact that, as opposed to other forms, like video or motion pictures, it is about stillness. I think the reason a person becomes a photographer is because they want to take it all and compress it into one particular stillness. When you really want to say something to someone, you grab them, you hold them, you embrace them. That's what happens in this still form."

I am aware it would be all too easy for me to make a series of archetypal images that ignores the shadow aspect entirely, and there always is one. This is another reason why its helpful to look at work as dark as that of Peter-Witkins. I am also looking at a book of images by Hans Bellmer that interprets his images from a psychoanalytical standpoint. The content is questionable, arguably even misogynistic but from this perspective there are many alternative interpretations available and in any case the images, particularly the earlier ones are often technically brilliant. I was intending to do an archetypal image based on the initiation story of 'Vasilisa the Wise', which features the motif of a doll as a symbol for the intuitive powers of a girl. The doll is passed to her in the story by her dying mother and I intended to use this idea in the image. It is a dark story although one that features transcendence at the end. Perhaps I can find ways to make the image I have in my mind for this somewhat more 'shadow'.

One final point, aware now for the first time of the difficulty of trying to work with these kinds of themes with a deadline in view. Ideally the unconscious would be mined via dream images or random visions that drift into the mind as and when they see fit. this is happening but slowly and obviously not on tap. Much surrealist photography that i have looked at looks far too contrived and perhaps I am beginning to see why.

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