Constructed Realities

Work that challenges by the voracity of the photographic medium by creating deliberately constructed images or reality
Picasso said how photography freed painting from its representational duty
I would challenge Sontag’s comment that ‘photography … is the most facile of the mimetic arts’ – photography’s capacity to record and its close affinity with the ‘real’ opens up a whole other realm of creative possibilities only available to the medium.
Constructed photographic self (is there such a thing as a true portrait?)
Consider Erwin Wurm’s One Minute Sculptures
Can we recognize their artifice in every context and can you play on this grey area?
Do we always read constructed images as intended, although many practitioners are deliberately open-ended in what they expect the viewer to read
“Kohler offers a valuable perspective, in that the question is not what reality is, but what modes of representing it are available” – paint, sculpture, dance etc not necessarily photography.
Skoglund’s pure fictions create hyper-real nightmarish realities
London’s Parasol Unit exhibition of the Unheimlich
Does a re-staging of an event constitute a construction ?
John Stezaker (2007) Pair IV (Dada? Surreal?)
John Szarkowski in his 1976 introduction to William Eggleston’s Guide acknowledges that “photography is … visual editing… choosing from among given possibilities… possibilities is not finite, but infinite”
Eggleston compared with David Lynch in his uncanny transformation of suburban America into a an eerie threatening place – yet Eggleston shot 20-30 years before Lynch’s movies so who is influencing whom?
Borrowing constructs from cinema to create or instil a sense of narrative into the images
“objective and the subjective, the technological and the creative” Hutcheon – what does this mean?!?!?!?
Construction nothing new – Bayard staged his suicide & many works of classical art were re-created in photographic form
Studio’s Cart de Visite allowed sitters to construct their own reality to show-off to acquaintances. Is not some of my work for others just an updated form of the Carte De Visite where I encourage the model to create a persona they would like to show-off to ‘friends’
Christopher Stewart’s factual shadowing of private security firms give a cinematic sense by his use of crop and lighting to create a hyper-real sense of drama – constructed? Or Real?
Art Wolf may digitally add animals to create a sense of drama, yet his images are so stylized that we question their reality anyway
Backstrom’s photographs of Ikea showrooms although documentary as they are real objects she utilizes them to question them as idealized living spaces
Advertising has been utilizing these constructs for many many years and is constantly borrowing from popular culture to sell sell sell (think cinema or art photography Corrine Day’s heroin chic))

Bill Viola’s The Greeting – single image far more intriguing than moving clip – gives us the chance to question the narrative and invent our own multiple conclusions. Is the still image more powerful as it allows us to construct our own narratives rather than being passively fed the story the director wishes to tell? There is a distinct theatricality to it yet also a hint of classical painting probably due to lighting and choice of clothing in particular the colours
Jeff Wall – Gregory Crewdson’s very uncanny work
“unheimlich refers to everything that was intended to remain secret, hidden away, and that has come out into the open, of what is private and concealed, of what is hidden, but yet strangely familiar”
“Photography limits the narrative to be evoked through one solitary moment” Crewdson talking about his Twilight series – I disagree; I think photography gives the scope to expand the narrative as it gives time to consider, re-look and re-read an image in a way cinema cannot. Allow us to “question the scene and complete it beyond the single frame”
How important is it to recognize the referenced source? For Morimura it is probably essential, but Sherman is referencing a type rather than a specific movie. As always context and the intent of the photographer is key here. And where everything references everything else is there anything left that is original?
Fontcuberta’s created fossils while fascinating on the gallery wall are immensely more effective displayed in a museum (context magnifies reading)
Meta Pictures – pictures about pictures; vision as recreated and recreating – negotiating with points of view
Sam Taylor-Wood’s Soliloquy
“tell us too much perhaps, rather than ask us questions.”
AES&F – is it important to recognize the reference or is the trope  enough


Paula Rego Gepetto Washing Pinocchio 1996
Fairy Tales for Nancy Boys
Winogrand instilled a sense of narrative into his documentary street captures
Sternfeld “anything that purports to be documentary is not to be completely trusted”
Alex Soth “balance between not being too obvious on the one hand, and not becoming too vague and blurred on the other”
Jeff Wall “the poetic quality of an image transgresses the indexical truthfulness of a representation” , “that to not photograph gives a certain freedom to recreate or reshape what I’ve thought”
Pauli “Reality and fiction are in constant flux, that they reveal the techniques of illusion, while reaffirming the possibility of meaningful representation”
Tom Hunter re-staging newspaper stories as classical literature and paintings

Acting The Part
“the best work is able to reach beyond its own artifice”
“The screen is the space in which we interact” – you know the rule…if it’s not on Instagram it didn’t happen!

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