Artist’s Statement to accompany Assignment 5
I am a photographer and artist based in Cambridge, UK. My professional life as global consultant in participatory development in Africa, Asia and Latin America is very intense. I see stunningly beautiful scenery – both ‘wild natural’ remote environments and managed rural and urban landscapes. I also see shocking examples of environmental degradation, waste and poverty.
Part the my motivation in my landscape photography is therefore political. Photography as a referential image, or series of images, can raise questions about the complexities, contradictions and challenges in the ‘real world’ in a way that other types of art do not. ‘Landscapes’ are multi-layered, changing and often manipulated in attempts to shape power relationships between people and groups of people and peoples’ control over and use of ‘nature’ and other resources. ‘Simple images’ are generally inadequate to sustain attention in the deluge of ‘compassion/guilt fatigue’. I am interested in how to make visual messages understandable without oversimplifying from any one particular standpoint. In structuring and juxtaposing information to inspire people to want to think things through for themselves.
In order to attract and sustain attention I am also concerned about aesthetics and design, and underlying feelings and meanings – flashes of light darting across layers of reflection, fascination with transition states and half-glimpsed images as the brain attempts to make sense of random patterns and sensations. I am particularly interested in the power of suggestion and the process of abstraction and the degree to which images can be simplified in different ways for different effects and still remain readable to the viewer.
In my photography I am not aiming at any one style or type of output. I like exploring both more journalistic and abstract fine art styles, colour and monochrome, and different ways of processing and presenting images. As a process of increasing my own understanding, and finding different ways of communicating to a wide range of different audiences.
Above all my photography is also a process of self-questioning, examining and trying to articulate my own responses and thoughts about what I see. Exploration of different ways of photographing, and different post-photographic interpretation and representation is also a way of examining and broadening my own understanding of a complex world, and my own place in it. And hopefully communicating my sense of wonder, sometimes anger, but above all questions about the only world we have.
Assessment of my artist’s statement
I decided to use the first person, and focus mostly on what I am trying to achieve in my landscape photography rather than my art and photography more widely. Using this also as a way of re-thinking what I might be trying to achieve with the different presentations of the images from Kyrgyzstan.
The current version is too long and flowery. I am still in the process of thinking things through. I want to have something much shorter, then more informative overviews of different series – like the example of Michael Tsegaye. But I am not yet at that level of understanding of where I am going yet.