We are asked to request that someone from the first exercise (where we must photograph people we think of as other) to document 1 hour of their lives on their phone.
I have chosen throughout this section to ask, what do we actually mean by other? (I realise this may come across as deliberately obtuse but hopefully my thinking will be clarified when I discuss this with the assignment) Part of that inquiry entailed sending out a survey online (I stuck to Facebook only at this point as this was/is an early venture/experiment and so I tried to contain it slightly.) In the survey I requested that people, if they felt happy to, sent in phone images from one hour of their lives to satisfy this exercise. I did not expect very many to respond to this question as it might have seemed fiddly, taken time and potentially made make people feel uncomfortable. Therefore, I was extremely grateful to those that did respond.
Having looked though the images I have chosen the following from one respondent to include here. I did not choose the most technically proficient – some were very well composed and nicely edited, or the most revealing (as I don’t wish to expose anyone under these circumstances and people were kind enough to respond so generously). What I have chosen to show though are some that I thought were quite interesting in the way they were made, with some humour, quirkiness and honesty.
In preperation for this exercise, we are asked to look at Wendy Ewald who works collaboratively, handing out cameras to her subjects and working with them to create images. She does this to overcome the problems discussed by Sontag and Rosler, as referred to in course notes, where artists might be accused of making voyeuristic work. Martha Rosler finds ingenious ways to photograph issues without using regonisable individuals in The Bowery, for instance, when she photographed the spots that beggars usually waited and asked for money in front of shops windows and at times I have been influenced by this approach in Calais and Dunkirk.
Whilst I don’t deny that enabling self narration as Ewald does, is in many cases a great way to give people a voice, their own voice, and to respect their individuality and presence in the world, this approach can risk effectively asking people to dig their own graves. So, it’s not a failsafe approach. There are other downsides probably associated with any photography and meaning, in relation to images minus context. As with everything, the intention behind the making of work, regardless of method, is what matters. Does the image maker/artist/photographer exists in an Hegelien power over the other world? Or have they advanced beyond that and do they exist in a power within world? Perhaps they have one foot in either paradigm? There are many complexities in relation to these questions.
Here are images from one of the respondents – I have used all but one that were sent to me and I have sequenced them. Other than that they are as sent.