Square Mile assignment, references and ramblings
Some acute observations by Bunnell on Clarence H White (2009, pp48-9) helped me focus and substantiate what I was doing: “Half of the photographer’s work is in the discovery of his subject.” and while I may not be living in New York at the turn of the twentieth-century, the discovery of my subject is nonetheless valid and beneficial. The banality of the everyday mundaneness of my own existence is, in fact, anything but banal; looking closer at the often neglected routines of our everyday lives brings us to see how rich and rewarding existence really is; that just how lucky we are should never be taken for granted. The mere fact that most of these shots were taken within the comfort and security of my own house with an expensive digital device is testament to that.
This awareness and realization that even a simple day in the life of anyone is, actually, so much more than simply fleeting images frozen for the sake of themselves, prosperity, or vanity. As Bunnell goes on to say, the multiple interpretation of a photo (or series of) should never be forgotten (2009, p172), and that the subject’s viewpoint, the photographer’s and subsequently the viewer’s (or viewers’) are all very different and all relevantly valid. All of which reminds us that self-reflection and participation are key factors here, and personally, I found that very rewarding in terms of justifying what I believed I was trying to accomplish with this assignment, and my own discovery and development of what my ‘banal’ photos communicated. After all, isn’t a picture of a plug socket just a picture of a plug socket whilst being so much more notwithstanding its decontextualised nature?
Of course it is. If we had understood this fundamental aspect of interpreting an image, then maybe Diane Arbus would have produced so many more great photos for us all instead of taking her leave prematurely as she did. Our relationship to subject and/or situation is what brings the pixels/chemicals to life; adorns meaning to the tones before us. I find this involvement and immersion into the photograph a beautiful and exciting engagement and look forward to developing and expanding within this and many other aspects of photography.
As Dawkins calls it in his book, Unweaving the Rainbow (pp1-14), the “anaesthetic of familiarity” is something that we should fight against to unlock ourselves from this feeling of sameness and really admire the beauty all around us, take time to take it in consciously and appreciate the miracle of life.
My word, that coffee was strong.
Bunnell, P. (2006). Inside the photograph. New York: Aperture Foundation.
Dawkins, R. (1998). Unweaving the rainbow. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.