Reading & Research: Mainly about pornography

Arts University Bournemouth 28th April

I had a list of subjects I wanted to research rather than specific photographers. I wanted to find out about identity and the formation of identity, how personal items are represented in photographs, dreams and more about studio lighting.


As it was, I found a huge book by Tom Hingston entitled Porn? and because I’d been musing on the app that makes everyone look like a porn star and thinking about the stereotypes involved I decided to take a look, which is actually quite difficult in the setting of a very busy library with this particular subject matter in a huge book. The text was really interesting and made some great points. My understanding of it is that the idea was to give photographers this brief of PORN? – the question mark being powerful as it creates a space to explore this idea fully. As the text points out, because photography relies on metaphor you could argue that a lot of images could be read as highly sexualised, and the desire to push against the boundaries of the socially acceptable in artistic practice perhaps encourages that.

“Rather than seeking a definition of porn, one might pose the more urgent question as to what, of the images produced by contemporary culture, isn’t porn.”

Tom Hingston, ‘Porn?’

I did find it uncomfortable really looking at the images in the context (I’m sure someone who reads this will make something out of that fact), but the idea that spoke most to me was about a ‘tension between confidence and vulnerability’, and that that was expressed visually by a man standing ‘between the protective embrace of his house and the coolly appraising eye of the outside world’. I think that idea really worked for me on a lot of levels and is one that I’ll probably explore. It feels like quite a teenage idea, one that I’m seeing reflected in my own children, how they’re getting taller and taking up more physical space, growing and maturing and gaining confidence, while at the same time they still have that childlike vulnerability that needs protection.

Art Photography Now by Susan Bright

This is the second time I’ve looked at this book and it’s really helpful. I think I will follow up with some research on ‘The Valley’ by Larry Sultan, which was mentioned in Porn? too. I was thinking about a really cinematic set of images for assignment 4 to make really good use of light so I looked at some work by Cindy Sherman and I need to follow up by checking some work by Laurie Simmons and Jeff Wall.

2017 Wolfgang Tillmans

I think Wolfgang Tillmans is becoming one of my favourite artists. I have an immediate connection with him because of his political views, but there is more than that; at some level what he does just works for me. I found it interesting that he talks about socks as ‘significant’ things. “That’s what I always have the greatest interest in. The things that humans choose and make and do in order to deal with their lives.” I suppose that’s where I’m now going with ideas for assignment 4, picturing the things that I find significant, things that I choose in my everyday life or things that other people find significant that they relate to me (the way I find my grandmother’s bracelet significant now that she is dead). I also really enjoy the mixture of text and documents with photography. The textural elements are really clear and bold in both statement and design. I love that he doesn’t shy away from expressing his ideas, he doesn’t feel a need to. And I noticed that he sometimes uses sound, which is exactly what I had thought about doing for an earlier assignment. I didn’t include sound in the end as the mechanics of it with assessment involved seemed prohibitively complex and worrying, but I take a digital recorder with me everywhere and capture sounds like I take a camera with me to capture images. Tillmans’ website is really exciting too. I wish I’d found it before the Brexit vote.

The Mystery Book of Travel Photography published about 15 years ago, the name of which I stupidly didn’t note down.

I’d picked up a book about travel photography and not written down the title or author because I didn’t know if it would be much use to me, so I’ll have to get that information  next time I visit the library. I just wanted to note down here the idea of journeys or travel to a destination being a return to a point of origin, and that maybe in that context the photograph becomes unimportant. The text mentioned this for Jews and Africans. In the context of being a Jewish person who has never been to Israel I found that idea interesting, but I also found it interesting as it ties in with the idea I’d read in How to Make a Home (The School of Life & Edward Hollis) about home being a point of origin, without it necessarily being the place you were born. This is a tie in with assignment 2 and assignment 5.

Week to April 29 (1 of 1)-2
On the back of the toilet door. Seemed funny to me.


Published by Sarah Cassin Scott


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