After such a positive selection of shots from the first proper shoot in this new direction I struggled to find the same depth from the second shoot. Where subject #1 had a home packed with interest; subject #2 lives in a tiny single room with very few personal possessions. I should point out here that I loathe calling my collaborators ‘subjects’ but I cannot find a suitable word to depict what they are. I am not in a position to use their names as a great deal of this project is going to have to rely upon anonymity. It just so happens the first two men who agreed to get involved did not mind having their face on show, but I know from past experience I shall be forced to hide the identity of the majority of those I will be photographing; this is also a large part of the intent of the body of work I will be exploring.
The one big advantage with this sitter is that he is local and would probably be happy for me to work with him again, whereas the first has now moved away from the county.
(Fig. 1) I keep discarding and coming back to this image. On the one hand it is an obvious sign of an obvious sign of a brand that is instantly recognisable which rather makes me dismiss it as too trite. However when you see the detail; that it is projected onto the Artexed ceiling of a darkened room it brings in a more prosaic narrative. It suggests at this being a child’s bedside lamp with all the hopes and fears and fantasies that come with childhood. Yet this is the pokey room of a grown man which hints at something a little more forlorn. When we leave childhood behind there is still a part of our psyche that yearns for it’s comfort and simplicity before the world stole away our fantasies.
(Fig. 2) There was such little in the room that even hinted at it being a place of character or safety. The room was no ideal of home, but more like a cell…a place to sleep and nothing more. This was one of the few items that spoke of a portrait. The whole spells out his name, but I shall be relying on anonymity for so much of this project that I tried to hint at something vague just to intrigue. I think this will probably end up on the cutting-room floor if I am lucky to capture something more meaningful next time.
(Fig. 3) Again this is not a strong image; a bedside lamp which you could read as a subconscious desire to traverse the globe; to travel and escape the four walls that currently cage his personality.
(Fig. 4) This is a stronger image; the colours ,soft focus and simple detail again reference my inspiration by Kawauchi. There is also something from Uta Barth in this shot too. Where you question what you are looking at and try to make correlations with something meaningful. A gentle ethereal vision that hints at the Aurora Borealis possibly? Something that traps the eye to intrigue with it’s ambiguity.
(Fig. 5) Where the other images disappointed me with their weakness of idea; this shot ensures his time that evening was not wasted. It is shockingly mundane in it’s display of nudity. From the bored expression on his face to the cluttered little corner of a room the detail and narrative are subtle yet rich. With the video-game controller in his hand staring at a large screen he is not so much oblivious to my presence, but arrogantly heedless. This is no nude placed on display to be objectified (Berger), but a naked portrait of masculinity. Even his choice not to remove his socks adds to the composition. The cold blue colour, cast by the HD Television was a deliberate aesthetic choice on my part. It gives a feeling of loneliness and isolation which reflects this man’s life at this moment in time. I have been asked what the image looks like with white balance correction and it is nowhere near as powerful as this version. This image sets a high standard for me to maintain in the future naked portraits I intend to capture.
Berger, J. Ways Of Seeing, (London: Penguin Books, 1972)