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  • Damien Williams

Positions and Practice Week 1) The global image

©Sebastião Salgado

The global image: It is obvious from Salgado's images that the world he is capturing is unaware of photography. Or rather, is unaware of the connotations of photography. The world has a difficult and precarious relationship with people that capture images. The process of photography I feel is not a controversial one, hence so many people now feel the need to capture every single moment of their life (Vernacular Photography). The democratisation of photography is the problem. This problem hasn't changed since the inception of photography itself. While the process was exclusive, there is a greater sense of trust from the uninitiated to the initiated. Now with images being able to be made very quickly (and more importantly spread very quickly) two main issues arise from the ability to take photographs easily. One is “where does my image go? Which prompts further anxieties of, who is going to use it? Why do you want to steal my image? It is as if you are taking a part or piece of them but this comes down to interpretation. Deep down I think most (adult) humans know that to take a photograph is not to capture truth. Every Artist seeks to make an interpretation of less than a split-second. This lack of trust in human nature and human nature’s inherent curiosity with the world is what influences people's relationship with this still image. I also believe the lack of sound which affords the subject a perceived lack of voice is a fearful situation for most. The other issue is that people don't see what they really look like, and people take so many photos and because the image is created so quickly people strive to show the best version of themselves. Which is ironic, as the audience is interpreting what the artist is interpreting and when they are at odds with each other, that is when criticism follows. This criticism from the subject is normally borne out of fear rather than intellect or reason. When the subject is in agreement with the artist the image art all work understood and intellectualised the reaction is usually more favourable.

My work currently inhabits two worlds: the first world is one of consent. Where, unfortunately, my work exists purely for function. That work exists in a very simple and explanatory realm where I depict what is expected. In this world the most I can do artistically, is to embellish and to flatter. The second world my work exists in, and the world I wish to explore this course, is camera unaware, observational, explained by curation and subtlety. The process in this world is to capture the moment with a vague goal in mind, but it is very much a conversation between my idea going in and the discourse and interaction during production/ performance as I shoot before I move to postproduction and to curate. The duration and the viewing is steered by title.

I have already revised this by week 3: I want my work to inhabit the ‘making’ space. Deliberate and planned narrative that is borne out of ‘listening’ to candid moments and conversation/interaction. Allowing the subject to understand and show who they really are. Sometimes that is unaware other times it is via organised and consensual portraits in environments that advance the narrative.

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