Tuesday, October 30, 2007

self portraiture


Neal said...
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Neal said...

Man, I was expecting roadkill.

I like the photos, and the statement. Though, I'm not quite clear what personal photography is. I think from what I can gather, that's like amateur photography.

My mind gets fuzzy around the "third-person" part. But I think I know what you mean. A personal photo includes the information about how the individual would like to be perceived, and often, this intrudes upon the image, and everything within the frame quickly becomes just a photograph.
I think the reason for this can be linked to the "photography as a mirror" use that has presented itself so vividly in the way people use digital snapshots. People desire to see themselves in a moment, contextualized by the camera, which gives instant insight into how others may perceive them. The irony remains, that though an image can contain the information about the subject and their surroundings, it is not objective until it is a photo that is taken by another, and is able to express that actual third person's perceptions, within the limits of their thoughtfulness about it I guess.

Okay, I think I'm getting there with this. So, the third-person then is a character. A fictional construction of desires for one's self, surroundings, past. So, there is merit to your photos in an attempt to realize this construction of a character, this fictionalization of yourself. It's a tough thing to get across, because of the emotional overtones, like the shirt then skin, the head separated from body, the hands touching, it's hard to get the focus off the content of the photo to the ideas surrounding it. Like, creating the awareness that it's all turning in on itself. You took your head off your body. You put the expression on your face, and you pushed the shutter closed, making you the artist, subject, and photographer, respectively. I'm not sure if there's a way to get that across without this big ontological analysis. I'm glad it's here.

I'm not sure if I totally got this.. but this is what I mean by stretching things... there's lots of space to be filled in, and I like that a lot.

Harvey said...

if i gather what you are saying (in the third part) correctly, then yes, i can see now that there may be some confusion because of the subject material and the fact that the photos do contain some loaded imagery. for instance the hands touching hands (both the seven fingered and the other its touching being my own), speaks more to a different point than i am trying to make, which i guess is why some written direction serves as walls of a corridor kind of leading in the direction i want. but that should be evident in the photograph.
but also, the idea of the third person is something that im not necessarily creating for the first time in these photos. i think this third person exists in all personal photography. but it often exists in the reasons that the person takes the photo in the first place. im talking about someone raising the camera to their own face like a myspace portrait per say. but once they have that photo, the reasons they had for taking it no longer exist. so then their reasons, and therefore the result is i think up for interpretation.
so here i point the camera to myself, but try to remain the individual who has taken it, as well as the person within it, and also the idea which gave way to it.
i may have to give some more thought to this. i'll get back to you.

Neal said...

Okay, I think I'm having trouble with this, because of the grounding of one of your ideas. I'm not sure, but it seems as if you're saying that the dude or girl taking the myspace photo with the camera up to their face does not have distinct intentions, which leaves its interpretation completely subjective after it is taken. I would say that those photos do have intentions, and you already said what they were. In a deep sense, to assure themselves of their reality, and of a memory, of their own existence in a certain way. In the myspace portrait, the individual often takes the photo with the intention of manipulating an other's perceptions of them. It is an unreality, an idealization of themselves. They may tilt their head forward slightly to conceal chubby cheeks, or look sidelong at the camera to present their better profile. And it is not a third person that selects these aspects of their figure and presents them, it is an introspective re-presentation of self, idealized. It is rarely what you could call their "actual self" seen in the image, as it is a photo selected for its dishonesty to a reality they often do not like. That's pretty general, but you know what I mean. Regardless of whether or not these people say these are honest depictions of themselves, they are not. They are more about self-assurance than objective and honest expression of self, and that is the distinct line between a self portrait that can tell you something true, and one that is lying to you.

So I should clarify. Because you are photographing in honesty of your paradoxical situation, in attempt to express something objectively about yourself, you are really the one who is creating the invisible third person, who could be interpreted as anyone. The myspace self-portraitist is the one with the incestuous projection of self present in their photo; it is nearly impossible to imagine anyone else is taking it. Unless these were taken out of a heartfelt insecurity, and need to reassure yourself of a false reality, yours are not the same. They would they would not be so honest. Like you said, you purposely made the influence of technology very apparent, and want to clearly convey that you are in all parts of the photograph, still yourself.

Are we there yet?

Anonymous said...

Harvey, I have always admired you for your work and your outlook on life. This further confirms your superiority over me in both skill and intellect. This is one of the most insightful things I have read lately, and it truly inspires thought. I look forward to more updates from you and I hope everything is going well. Keep on doing what you love.
ps - ryan.ozar@uleth.ca if you wanna keep in touch