A Photo Teacher |

Once Upon A Time

Posted in PHOT 256 by Paul Turounet on March 25, 2010

© Pedro Meyer, Gallop 1999


With Pop Art in the 1960’s and Conceptualism, there became an interest in the evidential power of photography, considering the mediums’ enormous amount of ‘authority’ in daily life. With the work of such artists as John Baldessari and Ed Ruscha, art and in this case, photography didn’t need to be about technical skill or traditionally defined beauty. Its beauty emerged from the clarity of its ideas. Artists began to put it to the service of performance, in sculptural, installation and painting activities, and as staged and constructed images, all investigating and questioning the nature of the photographic document as a social sign, the construction of identity and representation, and critical theory.

Out of this grew ‘postmodernism’ and the alignment of art and critical theory. Postmodern photography found itself considering an image world dominated by media, consumerism and popular culture. It was a new, accelerated environment of fantasy and instability. No longer reworking the descriptiveness of the photographic image, contemporary photographers dissimulated its role in consumerism and popular culture in order to critically examine the apparent disconnection of the image from what seems ‘real.’


© Maggie Taylor, But Who Has Won?, from the series Almost Alice, 2007


Today, such contemporary artists as Cindy Sherman, Jeff Wall, Robert Parke Harrison and Gregory Crewdson have used the photographic medium to contemplatively inquire about photography and its relationship to memory and storytelling. This work references fables, fairy tales, fictional events and modern ‘realities’ that are part of our collective self-conscious. This area of photographic practice, often described as ‘tableaux photography,’ suggests that the pictorial narrative is concentrated into a single image. Tableaux photography has its precedents in figurative painting of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as well as cinematic film. Such work relies on its uncanny ability to create a choreographed space for characters and props to reveal a story that seemingly convinces our consciousness and psychology of a ‘real’ and seamless narrative.


© Kelli Connell, Carnival, 2006


The disconnection of the image from what seems ‘real’ continues to be critically examined with the increased role of digital technology, from the use of phone cameras to the instantaneous dissemination of work on the worldwide web. While some artists have chosen to construct these ‘real’ moments and narratives before the camera with cinematic lighting and staging, others are now embracing the use of technology to build their fictions as well as returning to a further layering and reworking of the descriptive possibilities of the photographic image.  Photographers working in this vein include:

Pedro Meyer

Martina Lopez

Osamu James Nakagawa

Maggie Taylor

Kelli Connell

Stephen Marc



Shoot images as well as use archived images of a high resolution (previously made and/or scanned) to create photographic images that reflect your interpretation of idea of a narrative.  In developing your ideas conceptually and visually, consider such possibilities as current events, personal narrative scenarios, dreams, memories and/or ‘realities.’  It is important to keep in mind that you are constructing a story within the photographic frame.  This assignment is designed to explore constructed narratives using seamless digital image-editing techniques.



For the critique (see Calendar for Due Date) and evaluation, please complete the following:

Two (2) photographs (6″ x 8″ or 8″ x 10″ in scale) of digitally constructed images in which the narrative is developed and created utilizing digital techniques, including image selection, layering and layer masking, and various montage techniques.

Each finished photographs is required to incorporate at least two – three separate images that are used to construct each finished photograph.



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