Ideas of Perfection

While the uni project of doom that I talked about in my previous entry still occasionally comes back to haunt me I have gladly left it behind and focused my mind on new challenges. The topic of this new assignment is photography's relationship to power and control, looking, voyeurism, surveillance etc. The introductory lectures to kickstart this project circled mostly political issues of power and control, images of suffering, fascism and other utterly cheerful stuff like that. I was downright miserable after most sessions, carrying the weight of the world upon my shoulders. To my start-up tutorial I went pretty much empty-handed, clueless as to what I wanted to do; or more accordingly uncertain whether anything that I possibly fancied doing would be appropriate for such a heavy subject matter.

Chatting with my tutor proved to be a fruitful and heartening event since her approach was absolutely to help me do whatever I would best like to do, and not demand a meticulously structured plan for the project just yet.

So, what would I like to do? Something dance-related.

And what is dance essentially about? Control of the body, and if we are talking about classical ballet: perfect control of the body. Just like magic, we have a topic to base my research on: perfection. There are so many things that make this subject matter a perfect choice for me. First off, I am something of a perfectionist myself, and treating the issue of perfection as a research topic as well as a personal link to the project keeps me attached to it in a quirked sort of way where I'll probably get really frustrated but still strangely drawn to it. Having to deal with the fact that I want this work, which is about perfection to be perfect, adds another level to it - I believe.
I love photography and I love dance, and figuring out how to combine them into something more is a challenge that I'm more than willing to take. I have a history of practicing different types of dance, which allows me to experiment using myself as a model - logistically simpler than calling out for dancers compliant to volunteer helping out an indecisive and impulsive photo art student who most of the time has no idea what she's doing. This is not to say that I can't and won't use somebody else in the final pieces of work - as it happens, that tutor of mine knows a couple of professional ballet dancers, with whom I might be able to collaborate. A thrilling prospect to be sure.
Being more or less hooked in sports, as well as having competed and performed in various instances, I absolutely get that eternal thrive towards a flawless performance. How you can never actually achieve perfection, and how that will only drive you to work harder.

There is also the historical backstory which extends back to the Greek Classicism and the adoration and idolization of athletes in Ancien Greece. The extremely detailed, muscled and dynamic sculptures of heros and Gods from the Greek mythology are the ultimate beauty ideals still in the 21st century. That heritage of a concept of beauty goes through the history of Western art, and looking for traces of it in different eras is something that I'm completely enthralled with.
Then there's the practice of sport photography that follows certain rules - looking for the perfect shot of a specific event. How, when put next to each other, it's really the same photograph over and over again; and how still that same photograph of athletes manifesting their divine prowess in their area of expertise gets repeated time and again.

But that's enough rambling for a day.

I've already done one studio shoot with myself, and it was really about playing around and trying on things. I had a lot of fun - apart from the fact that apparently I've managed to pull my right buttock now and walking is a bit awkward.

here's just some movement I dunno what to make of it

slightly surreal legs and some muscles

I kind of like that blurriness and how it seems to remind us of photography's inability to represent movement; but also how it's kind of more truthful than spot-on sharp dance images where the exposure time is just fractions of a second.

And then I had to take and Photoshop a hipster-y self-portrait because that camera angle + lighting just makes everything look good.

someone looks grumpy

When you try so hard but you don't succeed...

For the past 14,000 years aka since last October I was working on a very different kind of assignment than before. As an experiment of sorts our year of Photographic Art has been collaborating with a local town in their face-lifting program. That is to say, we were asked to produce art - by our own terms - for the town and its community. Sounds exciting, and a bit terrifying too, for the vast majority of us had never done anything of the kind before.
Now we have officially, and timetable-wise moved on to the next module, but those whose work was selected for the phase 2: to become something concrete financed by the local council are now, I imagine, fabricating, budgeting and arranging exhibition spaces. I'm not involved in this second part - mainly, I suppose, because I wasn't in the least satisfied with the outcome, which kind of made me sink into desperation, and eventually give up on the project. Featuring other personal issues and whatnot - it has been a pain to work on this topic, and even though I have learned a lot and more, I'm sincerely relieved to be rid of it.

Nevertheless, my work will be featured in the publication that is in the process of making at the moment. So, let us see some passable creations that I managed to produce during those painstaking months.

[As of now, the untitled project of doom]

Human body is the instrument, which connects our inner world with the physical reality that surrounds us. Through movement we experience our environment and become part of it; we change it, as it changes us.
My body in a landscape is like a foreign object that doesn't belong there: an intruder or a guest whose visit - even if extending over several hours - is nothing but a fleeting moment for the local flora. This place though, the American Garden, is something of an intruder even in itself. Californian redwood trees, monkey puzzles and evergreen azaleas have found their unlikely home in the middle of the Welsh valleys where ash trees and oaks are more frequent acquaintances.
The once carefully constructed garden is now an overgrown thicket, which, in the light of the rising sun appears as a magical place with its rich, vibrant colours and entangled vegetation.


You ask, what has any of that got to do with community art. Nothing. I don't like working with people, or under expectations that my work should be easily understood by those people. I want to do my thing and explore art, sometimes in a not-so-accessible way. But that's it.

Now my main objective is to get my shit together, and instead of mindlessly panicking and trying too hard, do stuff that I find intriguing and engaging, to shoot first, ask questions later, as someone whose name I don't recall once said to his photography students.