Images from the week 19th – 25th March
Because I’d spent so much time in London last week, this week being at home felt a bit like being on holiday. I suppose Dorset is just so much more relaxing than central London.
On Thursday morning I drove out to the forest, hired a bike and took some polaroids. The whole trip was about cycling through the forest, something I used to do regularly but haven’t done for ages and for me there was some connection with this sort of photography that digital would have spoilt; maybe it’s about less, about slowing down a bit. I only took four images…
When I got home I took photos of the polaroids, scanned them -you can see my scanner was playing up and the resulting images have lines, but that really doesn’t matter in the context – and then cut them up and stuck them in hot water to lift the emulsion.
In the morning I’d read an article in The Guardian about the collapse of bird populations in Europe, I think it was France in particular, but the research had found it was a widespread problem probably due to the use of pesticides on crops which kill the insect populations that birds rely on for food. This problem has also spread to birds that don’t rely on insects so much, woodland species for example. For the past few months I’d been noticing the birds, they’re partly on my mind because my kittens keep dragging dead birds into the house, but also because flocks of birds used to be huge and now they are small. I recall big V shaped flocks in the sky when I was a child, sometimes several V shapes breaking off from the initial one. But I don’t see that any more. And I know that these images are related to that feeling I have that nature is on a precipice, that it is fragile because we have made it fragile, and that we have already lost so much. Each species and each individual is precious. To me, each tree feels like something from another place pressing itself into this universe in the shape of a tree, like it’s an expression of something much deeper than what we see. One day someone will read this and think I’m insane, but never mind. I know what I mean, because I feel it in myself and I see it in others too. Polaroid lifts make sense in this context because of their fragility and the fragility of the natural world. I’m going to write more about this later though.
So, here’s a contrast. Welcome to plastic me. There’s an app you can run your image through and it evens out your skin tone and gives you heavy eye make up to make you beautiful. At least, some porn star idea of beauty anyway. I found out about this on Facebook where my daughter had posted an image of herself from the app. I spoke about the period tracker app and Kate’s influence here. So this is where these ideas have come from and where they are going at the moment – using plastic me, part of society’s sort of idealised version of myself I suppose, and gradually breaking it down over time into these stereotypical ideas about women.
I quite like using the idea of pornography which is what this whole plastic look makes me think of. Maybe because I get the feeling that this is the ideal me so that makes me think that society thinks that how I look is all I am good for. This is tying in with me taking more note of the messages I get pushed in front of me every day as a female and how that reflects my self-worth. Instead of letting them go and trying to ignore them I am taking screenshots/ video/ sound recordings of what I see (and hear) and saving them up to present a statement. It’s not just about looks, it’s about huge gaps where women don’t seem to exist or if they do they’re either given or choose to take on almost childlike names which for me instantly removes the gravitas from their work or thoughts. I’m not sure if this is two separate pieces of work or if it will all amalgamate into one piece? Who am I trying to talk to? Part of it is about my sons. I want them to understand my experience and by collecting messages I am trying to communicate with them about what I see and things I feel excluded from. So on reflection these other portraits with the tracker are different because this isn’t about my sons, it’s about myself and about things I’ve had taken from me or been forced to hide. It would be very difficult for me to work with pornography in the context of self portraits, but I think some suggestion or flavour of it might be incorporated into the images eventually. Again, they’re not really for EYV, these are my own explorations given the research I’ve been doing lately, the work I’ve seen from others and the various ideas that are being triggered.
I feel like I made big personal decisions this week. Family is part of it, the photography is part of it, the music is another part. I’m sort of re-orientating myself musically and heading down what I see as a more creative path, which is harder work as it means I now need to look at writing more music as well as making a big push to improve my technique on the violin. To me, writing music means playing more piano and I am not a pianist so that’s hard work and more practice. This all ties in with the photography, it’s not easy to explain how but it’s some kind of shift in thinking that feels a bit freer but a bit more risky.