It’s a strange title for a post I know, but this is a sentence spoken by my tutor during our webinar this morning as his surrounding book shelves wobbled just a little bit. Just one small part of the (massive) learning curve that I’m currently experiencing as I’m immersed in this cross – continental, interdisciplinary, flexible learning degree – that the architecture in Tokyo is built to a high specification to withstand these tremors.
That aside, I picked this as a title for my latest post as it seemed to sum up quite nicely some of my brain activity this week, as I grappled with new concepts, tried to critically evaluate some of my work and that of others; and to understand how I am, and am not, interdisciplinary in my work. I had to turn my thinking on its head, experiment with new ideas, research other work and figure out if and how my own had any contextual relevance to the content in this week’s tutor presentations.
As I looked more critically at my own work, I saw just how much evidence there was of the human psyche. Psychology has always fascinated me, having studied it during my Combined Honours BA. Since then my work within the educational sector has included liaising with mental health professionals; volunteering for an organisation which searches for missing despondents; as well as learning how to improve and maintain my own well-being as I’ve got older and more savvy about matters of the brain. I hadn’t really summed all this up previously and put it conveniently into a box labelled ‘psychology’, but the more I think about it, the more I realise this is what I have been doing.
One genre which also interests me is the use of found objects / collage / montage / embroidery within the photographic image. I looked at the creative work of John Stezaker, Ingrid Karlsson, Julie Cockburn and other examples of montage; and a scientific study by Ekman et al starting in the late 1960s. Ekman’s study led to the development of a set of facial photographs which represented the recognition of basic human emotions. I found this interesting and considered the links between this and the modern day selfie and emoji.
In my work, I often rework and reuse part of one of my images (such as the boat seen below on the left, taken in the Gulf of Mexico).
In the collage, top right, the body of the boat has been cut out from a book of idioms, the idiom being “all at sea” and its meaning (lost, confused). This is one of my more overt examples of an interdisciplinary approach between photography, psychology and other art forms which rely on layering. A bold approach to colour deliberately exaggerates the intent.
I spent so long this week thinking critically about my own work, and reading, that I left myself short of time to create something new. However, although my new images may be a little clumsy, they are something I can work with and hope to develop further:
Here, I have cut out the face of the girl in the vintage postcard, then placed it on top of a photograph by Tom Stoddart entitled ‘Young mother and child awaiting evacuation from Sarajevo’. The mother is anxious and tearful, not knowing whether she will be able to take her child away from the constant fear of living in a town under siege. This contrasts heavily with the photograph on the left (incidentally the message written on the reverse said ‘Ivy, with love and best wishes for your birthday, from Dad and Mother’). Two different times, different lives, different hopes from mothers to their child.
My tutor suggested that I look at the work of John Goto, which is now on my list of things to do during the coming week.
It’s been a good week.