I think I’ve been doing this exercise all the way through the course, and arguably all the way through my life. In a way every image I take is a response to other images I have seen. These are the most obvious during the course – although they weren’t always totally clear to me as responses to images at first.
1. Alvin Langdon Coburn
I had been doing some research into Coburn around the time I took this image. I don’t recall having consciously taken it in response, but looking at it and especially in the way I had chosen to present it, it is clearly influenced by him. When I’d seen it in my photo app a few months later I’d felt some initial confusion wondering how an image that wasn’t mine got there. I’d initially written about it here, and also about Coburn’s influence on me here and here. Since then I’ve been back to London many times, and I am always aware of the places featured in the book London by G.K Chesterton with images by Coburn and occasionally have sought-out the same view-points in some bizarre Doctor Who type effort to use the camera as a visual timepiece or time travel machine that might give me a connection with this person who died before I was born. So in these images I’m responding to the location because I have an emotional connection with it.
I also made a lot of vortographs in response to those made by Coburn.
Thinking about the essay ‘Photographs and Context,’ by Terry Barrett, the initial thought is that these images are inspired by the internal context alone. Although I think that’s true of the London images, I don’t think it’s true for me when it comes to Coburn’s vortographs. For some reason they seemed to capture the essence of something I was feeling at the time about the way the UK has fractured in the wake of the vote to leave the European Union. Having researched vortographs and their original context from several texts, I think that the vortographs are also a response to the original context; there seem to be similarities, both historical and personal. So I’m responding to the ideas and to me those ideas are about power and fracturing.
2. Kate Aston
Kate Aston is an OCA student who I believe is currently studying Context and Narrative. I was inspired by Kate’s work throughout the course, I suppose the main being some images she published on Instagram that used an app that tracked periods. For some reason this really caught my imagination and I have played with this idea on the sidelines throughout the course, although not specifically as part of it. It certainly fed into my A4 submission, although perhaps it’s not obvious .
(I need to ask Kate permission to use her work)
Some of my images in response:
I wasn’t sure when I saw Kate’s work exactly what the original context was. The external context for me was social media, Instagram in particular, and I think that external context was probably very influential in the way I have chosen to use Kate’s idea.
As far as images for A4 went, I think it’s a response to the original context; it wasn’t explained at the time, but having seen other work by Kate I was probably picking up on original context.
3. Andy Warhol image by Oliviero Toscani
Despite having read ‘The Philosophy of Andy Warhol’ as a teenager and having seen his work and homages to it in many contexts from gallery walls to websites to graffiti, I still feel I haven’t really scratched the surface of Warhol’s work. There was a specific image I saw in ‘The Polaroid Project: At the Intersection of Art and Technology’ that I liked (taken by Oliviero Toscani) and so I made some work in response to that. I also think that my use of Polaroids in general is a response to Warhol and perhaps also to David Hockney and Wim Wenders whose work I saw at The Photographer’s Gallery. I was quite interested in the idea of a repeating image being built up, and the mask was a response to Wounderland by Mothmeister, who describe themselves as ‘taxidermy-obsessed artistic duo’ and was part of an exploration for assignment 4.
4. Colin Gray
I saw an image by Colin Gray in ‘Family Photography Now’ when I was working out my ideas for the third assignment and one of the images I submitted is clearly a response to that image, and also it’s text. I think that’s a really interesting example of the external context and internal context. My original context is different; I’d wanted to say something about my fear of the possibilities of having cancer and how that might impact on the way I look. But there’s also an echo of what I think is the original context here too.
5. Thomas Ruff
The original work we were asked to examine by Thomas Ruff was unappealing to me. Having researched it, it seemed that it was made to be seen on a larger scale – the external context that I had was not what Ruff had in mind when he created those images. I did find myself making images in response to it, although they are not particularly similar and they don’t use the same methods.
I think the images of Westminster Bridge are responding to Ruff’s idea about digital. It made me explore some of my own ideas about digital imaging and the perceived level of perfection in an image as I had just upgraded my photography equipment and was finding the sharpness of the new lenses almost too harsh. So I used a photo I had taken on Westminster Bridge, displayed the image on my computer screen and retook it using my iPhone. When the new image appeared on my screen I retook it again and continued the sequence. For me I think this is about images loosing their original context as they are shared digitally – perhaps via screenshots or reposting – so reading Barrett’s essay alongside this idea has been informative. Parts of the image end up missing; you could argue that the actual subject becomes more and more central, but the clear original image shows that some of these light trails are from a bus, a point lost in later images where the subject now appears to be the street lamps. I think it also resonates with me as an idea though as the technique feels like it has links to my life, perhaps how I think.
*See further images in the sequence