Exercise 1.4

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.

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Self & Other Section 1 Ideas & Proposal

The proposal outlines a plan for a workshop which I hope will lead to images that will be suitable for the exercise and the assignment. I aim to produce each element and deliver it to my tutor as a whole project, rather than several disparate and separate ones.

I must admit I am somewhat overwhelmed by my objectives. Since I am looking to work collaboratively there are so many pitfalls and potential problems that might occur, not least of which will be the failure to recruit collaborators and gather everyone together to do the work. (Awful to be someone with ideas that can’t actually implement them!)

I must stress, I do not see this as a project with an ending. Rather, it is a foray into doing the sort of work I see myself doing and an experiment. I am not out to create beautiful final images, rather images that demonstrate an evolving working process which I think might lead to the sort of work I envisage doing.

Some questions from an actor friend who I asked for comments and thoughts from (Jackson, 2017):

  • I see it being something done over a period of weeks? Say one day per week for three weeks? May not be achievable in your time limit. Only that they’re constructing character and I think I see this as a mini rehearsal process. Not a biggy but just think you would mine richer stuff if you could.
  • Secondly How you going to find your actors? As you want good age range etc. Ad in The Stage, Contact Spotlight maybe. Drama schools are brilliant for this but limited age range. Castingcallpro I think is good for this kind of stuff.

On Monday evening I am meeting with a dancer who has a venue I might use, and who may be involved in some way, yet to be decided, although she seemed keen to attend the workshop described in my proposal, and has suggested some other collaborative work in exchange.

Click here to read the draft proposal I have outlined for the workshop, where I will use the character descriptions I have been sent by individuals online following posting the survey. Actors outline for project

Incidentally, before I posted the survey I sought permission from the OCA. The reason I did this was because I wanted the OCA name on the survey to validate it, and give people some reassurance that this really was student work rather than a nosey attempt to gather private data from people, which it very much could have been. I was given permission and then posted the survey. I have so far received 81 responses. I will discuss this part of the process more in another post.

Ref: Jackson, T. 2017 Email response to questions from me about workshop proposal, email to sarah-jane512666@oca.ac.uk