Positions and Practice – Interdisciplinary Approaches

This week has had some punctum for me as I open my eyes to my practice in relation to other disciplines. Punctum (‘that accident which pricks, bruises me.’) and studium (‘a kind of education (civility, politeness) that allows discovery of the operator’) source are two new words for me to work with in my project. From Barthes Camera Lucida they touch on my interest in the narrative contained within a photograph or within the viewer or in the context of the positioning of the image. Narrative is always there because human minds are story making machines. The other two words that registered for me were the hermeneutic (suspense through unanswered questions) and proairetic (suspense through anticipation of an action) codes which are the two ways of creating suspense in a narrative source. Lots more work to do with these ideas as I make the case for narrative and emotion in a photograph.

I was struck by

‘Barthes’ aesthetic is governed by a prejudice against linear time and especially against narrative, the privileged form of linear time as he saw it, which he regarded with typically high-modernist scorn and disdain.’ (Peter Wollen, ‘Fire and Ice’, in Photographies, no. 4 (Paris, April 1984) 118-20.)

If Barthes has a prejudice against narrative I have a strong prejudice for. That makes for an interesting enquiry as I understand more what he is for and how it fits with my prejudice.

The interdisciplinary work to date for me has been predominantly with words and narrative. I believe every photograph has a narrative that each viewer gives it. They are all unique and different, as are all viewers, but with some overlap given by similar experiences the viewers may have had. I also believe a photographer can change the narrative a viewer has by adding words.

In the image above I can leave you to make your own narrative. You will have done so already and if I ask you what it is you will tell me. If I give the image a title I will immediately interfere with your own processes of narrative creation as you check to see if it confirms your bias.

Let’s call this image ‘Spanish Breakfast’. What has that done to your story? We can have an interesting conversation now.

The image captures something that has happened to me this week. I took this image yesterday while shooting some long exposure landscape shots. I have a series of shots of this man that I will make in to a gallery and a story. The interdisciplinary work of this week also now makes me want to use my video function on my camera for the first time. I will revisit this scene and see what I can do with some video footage and some more shots of what is going on here.

I am also fascinated by the relationship between psychology an photography. My interest in narrative and emotion comes from completing a Masters in Cognitive and Decisions Sciences at UCL.

A great week and my head is buzzing with ideas.

Categories: Positions and Practice

LEN

I am a Photographer. As well as taking many photographs I am currently studying for an MA in Photography at Falmouth University. I will direct my attention through the lens of my camera for the next couple of years and see what shows up. I see a photograph as a little bit of magic capturing a moment in time. If successful it surprises and engages your emotions. It tells a story about the wonders of being alive or tells us what we need to change to make it a better world to live in. That is enough for me to get going and then like walking a 1000 miles, which I did across the UK in 2010, or walking 200 miles across Cyprus, which I did in November last year, it is one step at a time.

I was a writer. The title of my unpublished book was ‘You Would Have Done The Same.' It is about a successful guy in love with his wife who lets her die when he discovers her in the process of committing suicide. The title gives a clue as to what I think you would have done. The book is 200 pages long. I found it cathartic to write it but after two years of work and reviewing with agents decided it probably needed another 2000 hours to get the whole book up to the standard of some of the pages. Writing is great but it is a lot of sitting down so I decided to get out and walk, play tennis, play bridge, go birding, watch football at Nottingham Forest, Arsenal and Valencia and anywhere else if I can, meditate, cook and eat. I was a writer who has so far failed to become an author.
I was a young man who loved Mathematics and thoroughly enjoyed getting a BSc at Liverpool University. While there I went often to Anfield and the Philharmonic Hall. I was all set on doing a PhD until I went for interview practice at BP and got seduced by the excitement of an International business career. BP was a great adventure building trading teams and businesses in London, Antwerp, Cleveland Ohio and Singapore. Fabulous people and some great challenges and also very hard work, constant jet lag and lots of fun along the way. I married Karen, my stunning wife, and had the most amazing time with her and our three boys Alex, Tom and Dan. She has multiple sclerosis and we have taken on many challenges together but somehow keep creating a new normal against the horrors thrown our way. She is the love of my life.

After BP I decided to coach senior executives and quickly realized I had a lot to learn
about what makes people tick. I had a fantastic 18 months on the International Programme of the Cleveland Gestalt Institute. A great faculty and a
wonderful group of people on the programme. We studied and worked in Dingle, Singapore, Holland, Cape Town and
Lisbon. This also got me interested in the way we think and make decisions so I studied for an MSc in Psychology atUniversity College London in 2010. The
Masters was in Cognitive and Decision Sciences and I found it fascinating what
we do know but also how much we don’t know about how we think and make
decisions.

I loved coaching and making a difference. I got a number of people to hear themselves, remove some of their own chains and free up the way they thought about the world. I remain fascinated by how people react to and engage with the world. My Masters thesis was why do two people given the same information make different decisions? Put simply, it is because each of us are unique in the way we are constructed.

Since returning from Singapore I found English winters tough so moved to Spain where I now live. The people are lovely, the scenery amazing, food delicious and the sun shines all the time. Almost.

All of these experiences will feed in to my time now as a Photographer. Three motivations I am lucky to have are enthusiasm, curiosity and a continuous interest in learning. All the time I look forward to meeting old friends and making new friends and experiencing this wonderful life together.