My project is seeking to explore the experience of living with someone who is chronically ill. My wife has Multiple Sclerosis at an advanced stage. I have cared for her through the disease’s progressive decline over the last 15 years. At first the project felt real and visceral as I used my own pain to determine what I should shoot. This took me to images of my wife and her situation as an illustration of what I saw and what impacted me.
As I progressed with the work I found it increasingly difficult as it made me look at things I did not want to look at. I went through a phase of feeling it was too difficult. However, as I looked at alternatives for a project they all seemed light in comparison to this subject. As McCullen says
‘Photography for me is not looking, it is feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you are never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures’ and ‘seeing, looking at what others cannot bear to see is what my life is all about’ Source
I am feeling something acute so it can be a source of creative exploration for my project. I began to think about what I am feeling and realised that needs to be the focus of my work. Instead of pointing my camera at Karen and all the things that are happening to her what can I do to point the camera at myself to discover what is evident from my experience within images of me?
These three images of me are all taken when I am in a pretty terrible state. In the first I am seeking to illustrate my internal state by placing myself against an abandoned building. In the second I took my camera out after a day of dealing with many problems with my wife’s situation. In the third I also had problems but formed a smile on my face.
There is an element of repeat photography here with me being the main subject. My plan is to take my own emotional state as a signal to take a photograph. As I do so I plan to record in words what my state is and what brought it on (to the extent I can understand that). As the body of work develops I will be interested to see if the pictures alone can tell a story or if a written narrative needs to be provided.
I studied Gestalt Psychology and wish to bring something from the Gestalt approach to my project.
The Gestalt approach has the basic premise that life happens in the present—not in the past or the future—and that when we are dwelling on the past or fantasizing about the future we are not living fully. Through living in the present we are able to take responsibility for our responses and actions. To be fully present in the here and now offers us more excitement, energy, and courage to live life directly. Source
Taking this as a premise says that everything visible about my current state is present in an image of me. I don’t know where this is going to go but two ideas arise. One is to find metaphors to illustrate something about my state as in the first image above. Another is to say my face or body alone is sufficient data for a viewer to work with.
I will now go in to action seeking to notice when strong emotion is present within me. At this point take an image and make notes. Then we will see where this goes.
Categories: Project Development, Surfaces and Strategies