Proof of Existence
© William Eggleston, Memphis from William Eggleston’s Guide
In 1976, the William Eggleston exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York marked the first occasion for the museum to display color photographs as an art. Seventy-five images were selected from a group of 375 taken around Eggleston’s home in Memphis. While his work shared with conceptual art a focus on the everyday, Eggleston’s images showed an affection for image-making that was out of step with both the critical climate of the time and the traditions of monochrome art photography. While utilizing the popular culture strategies of commonplace everyday experience and the domestic that one would be familiar with in the family album, Eggleston’s photographs proposed a ‘fiction’ of experience. These were pictures that one might see in any family album, but rather, he had taken this private experience and made it public. Some of William Eggleston’s most important photographic books include William Eggleston’s Guide and Los Alamos.
© Stephen Shore, from American Surfaces
During this time other photographers explored the vernacular scene, including Stephen Shore (American Surfaces and Uncommon Places), who at the age of 14 had already sold some of his color prints to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Like Eggleston, Shore was also interested in the American vernacular scene, but exploring a public space as opposed to Eggleston’s seemingly private experience. Initially utilizing a point and shoot camera and then an 8 x 10 camera with color negative film, Shore traveled across the United States photographing urban and rural moments, shopping malls, places where he stayed and ate as well as people he would meet along the way.
© Hasan Elahi, screenshot from website Tracking Transience
Photographers/artists, such as Josef Koudelka (Exiles), Byron Wolfe (Everyday: A Year-Long Photo Diary), and Hasan Elahi (Tracking Transience) make images as a source of “evidence and truth” as it relates to their personal experience, including making photographs on an obsessive daily basis, the use of global positioning systems, video and the Internet to track one’s existence. Wafaa Bilal (3rdi) uses a camera that has been surgically implanted on the back of his head to transmit images to the web of his daily activities.
Visually investigate the conceptual idea of the role and function of photography as a means of proof of one’s existence. Shoot analog and/or digital images that reveal a sense of personal space and existence.
Thinking about your conceptual concerns and what to photograph, I would propose you gravitate towards what your interests and curiosities are. How would you approach those concerns photographically to reveal what they would look like as a series of photographs? In addition to their visual engagement, what do you want the photographs to reveal, suggest or evoke, intellectually and/or emotionally, in relationship to these ideas and perceptions? Consider how your use of the camera, photographic aesthetics and materials as well as your technical execution will be utilized in making photographs that begin to suggest and inform these curiosities and ideas.
In considering your photographic vision and use of camera aesthetics, give particular attention to your use of the photographic frame, vantage point, moments of exposure and the role and use of light to reveal your interpretation of the thing itself and details. Consider various visual strategies and points of view, including the compositional possibilities with a single frame, multiple-image sequences, the juxtaposition of images (diptychs and triptychs) and multiple-image series (typology – conceptually and/or visually).
It is essential that your idea reflect a sense of considered thought, active visual exploration and is articulated with a cohesive vision and voice. I would encourage you to follow-up with me regarding conceptual development as suggested by your photographic efforts by meeting with me to discuss your work (contacts and prints) in an effort to further encourage your photographic process.
For the critique (see Calendar for Due Date) and evaluation, please complete the following:
Minimum of 4 – digital edited contact sheets (6 images on each contact) that reflect and begin to reveal a sense of personal space and existence through your photographic vision and sense of technical execution and craftsmanship
Minimum of 2 – finished photographic prints made in the Grossmont College Analog | Digital Photography Labs.
If you have an alternative presentation idea | concept in mind, such as the use of internet or mapping, follow-up with me.
Turn-in all critique materials in a manila envelope for evaluation and feedback.
© Dewey Keithly, 2008
© View Patibhanthewa, 2008
© Guilherme Marques, 2008