The Richard Billingham interview was an opportunity to hear an artist talk about their bodies of work and place them into context within their broader practice. Billlingham is interesting for a number of reasons partly because he wanted to be a painter rather than a photographer and initially he consider the camera a purely a tool to record images that would act as source material for his paintings. He then discusses how he progressed to using video cameras to record both his family and animals is his body of work about zoos. I can associate with the process of selecting different tools to explore or tell a specific story and how selecting the right tool for the project can be a significant factor in the creating of a body of work . Billingham acknowledges how using a video camera allowed him to see that zoo animals have repeated behaviours and once he understood that fact he was able to photograph them in the way he intended.
What is interesting in Billingham’s work is the parallels that exist between ‘Raise a Laugh’ and ‘Zoo’ in both bodies of work the subjects Billingham are contained within confined spaces and they are unaware that they are being recorded. It is possible that Billingham identified parallels between the animals confident with their cages and the small box that represent his family home after his father lost his job. Billingham admired the work of Constable and visited East Bergholt the location for many famous Constable paintings yet Billingham confesses to being unable to see the waining willows when he gazes upon the landscape. However when he looked at the photographs he had taken he was able to see Constables images, which Szarkowski would describe as the photographic frame (Szarkowski, p. 8) “the act of choosing and eliminating forces a concentration of the picture edge”.
Billingham’s photographic work is intercontextual in nature in that his photographic practice takes references from his video and written work.
This image is from ‘Zoo’
This image is from ‘Raise a Laugh’
Richard Billingham’s photography has an aesthetic in that the images record activities of the sitter without them realise they are being observed.
During week 11 I shared a series of images that focus on daily walks to the local street market to buy lunch. The challenge for me was to define a tight edit of 5 images that would tell the reader the story of going to buy food in a street market. In feedback on my work this week it was interesting that others who viewed the images identified signifiers other than the ones I had intended. One observation made was that images that showed people only contained male characters something that I had not intentionally set out to do, though it is possible that I have an unintentional bias in my selection process or maybe it is that most of the market stall holder are male.
In the weekly webinar I shared further images for 1 of my work in progress series. What is different about these images is that the process of combining the images was done in the post production phase using photoshop.
Though some members of our group recognised the same intent as earlier images in the series, however one member did not like the approach used to combine the images.
- Szarkowski, J. (2007) ‘The Photographer’s Eye’, Museum of Modern Art