Preparing my lecture for the workshop I have made into Costigliole’s Castle, Italy, on July 29th, I decided to prepare my dummy publication in order to present it to its participants.
“I can hear you now. Dummy Publication”, Milan, 2017. © Dayana Marconi 2017.
Copyright for this video belongs solely to Dayana Marconi. Images may not be downloaded without her permission.
To create it, I opted to build a path that readers can follow using different images in an attempt of reaching different types of audience’s attention, because while some viewers might be more intrigued by the visual effect of long-exposure images that communicates them more than triptychs, some others might be more interested in the route itself and in deeper understanding those emotions behind my photographs. This second approach is the one I am actually focus on, since my aim was to create a deeper comprehension of the subject matter to generate a deeper sense of empathy between sitters and viewers. The fact is that I wanted to clearly represent a human condition and the portrayed people are its representatives, while who is observing my images can finally understand that the negativity inside them is something shared, that must be deeper investigated to be solved.
I divided the represented path in different chapters, each one trying to represent not only those photographed individuals, but also those questions and thought that might be in the audience’s minds.
“I can hear you now. Dummy Publication”, Selection of images – Slideshow, Milan, 2017. © Dayana Marconi 2017.
Copyright for this photos belongs solely to Dayana Marconi. Images may not be downloaded without her permission.
The first chapter is titled “YOU ARE LOOKING FOR MEANING” . In this section, viewers are still looking for those meanings behind what they feel and the insert images of the videos I created for my project are “obscure” because they want to represent the fact that they did not fully understand them yet. I wanted to include video parts as images of an installation inspired by the work done by Marie José Burki in the book titled with her name, which is a collection “of exhibitions which accompany it show a ten-year accumulation of Burki’s observations and ideas” (Lomax, Pohlen, Burkard, Hentschel, 1998). The texts insert in this one-page chapter are written in four different languages and they are “extracted” from the dialogues of my “I can hear you now – Introductive video – Four ‘Characters’ empathizing with the Author” in which I wanted to represent the state of non communication that is behind the lack of empathy among individuals. I used three different videos in this image to make viewers start wondering what the contents will be about.
In “YOU CAN’T HEAR ME YET”, I insert a sequence of four, again obscure, images of my self-portrait video playing with transparencies: from a 50% for the first one to the 100% full fourth photograph, this has been done to create the sense of a topic defined by progression. Small images are followed by another installation of screens portraying three different moments of my emotional path not in sequence, since the topic is still unclear at this stage.
“CAN YOU DETECT AN EMOTION?” ask and encourage viewers to make an attempt to recognise two different feelings portrayed and compared in each one of my confrontation sheets. It could be seen as a game to actively engage everyone who’s reading my book and, by participation, to enhance their interest in the topic. I insert written questions with the same handwritten font used on my sheets while shared online. They have been ideated as postcards that people can handle and observe during potential exhibitions and this is why I opted for an handwritten style. Since this dummy should be seen as a sort of minimal scrapbook, I wanted a very clear layout, but using noted questions I could reinforce the idea of a sort of Zibaldone, influenced by the “notebook” written by Leopardi, that made this term become definition for a collection of loosely connected thoughts. I could write all those things I am wondering about in relation to how my audience might perceive those images and if they can understand them. This “Zibaldone” approach has been reclaimed even into the chapter related to my triptychs to provide a sense of continuity while browsing its pages.
In “FOLLOW THE TRAIL… GO CLOSER…” I collected a few contact sheets, so viewers could follow the emotional process, that my sitters experienced during the shooting phase, as a whole. As for the confrontation sheets, I used blurred images providing a sense of movement, so who will analyse my book will also have a further information: body language alongside facial expressions. Confronting different contact sheets they can see that the length of the inner trail is not the same for each individual and that they face the camera in different ways if they focus on their poses. They can have a window open on individuality, since each person moves in a different way when he/she is stressed by his emotions and memories.
“CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?” is the section that wants to investigate if, after all the visual information provided, viewers can interpret and “hear” the persons I portrayed in those triptychs: three selected images, in which the active role of the photographer can be seen in their selection, that freeze in time that inner path. I insert some words, displayed like in triptychs, following a movement from left to right while proceeding from page to page, so I could include some thoughts shared by my subjects. They have been set-up in a random layout because they are the first words that popped in my sitters’ minds after I shot them. I divided the before/during/after-the-scream words in three pages, each one followed by three triptychs to maintain the coherence of the layout created for those photographs: three stages portrayed by images and words together.
At the end of the dummy, I included some articles providing information about my project. In ”Stripped Souls”, I tried to briefly introduce the work done to provide continuity with the one that had to be done during the workshop I created, named “Souls portraits”. The second article is about the exhibition in which I will present this scrapbook as a video to be shared during the creation of the online event to make the audience better understand the subject matter. It contains brief instructions and it is related to what written into my CRJ about it, again, to reinforce that sense of continuity. In “How to scream in public spaces: a few advices”, I provided readers with some tips about how to portray themselves or someone else in a safe way since, due to what is happening around the world right now, it might not be a good idea to suddenly scream in public without taking precautionary decisions: in this way they can participate to my August audience-based experiment avoiding having troubles while shooting.
“I CAN HEAR YOU NOW”. To close this dummy, I decided to insert the title once more, since my hope is that readers can state this at the end of this experience. This sentence could also be used during future exhibitions: I could ask everyone who will participate to write it on a paper and being portrayed while holding it up if they sense that the result has been reached.
Into this publication I insert more women than men because the percentage of men participating to this visual experiment is lower due to those difficulties explained into my CRJ post titled “Are men less open to show their emotions?”, in which I basically explained how those Social norms that, especially in those patriarchal Societies like Italy, influence male individuals asking them to be stronger than women, both physically and emotionally, with the result that it became more and more difficult to find men willing to be portrayed while uttering emotions.
Discussing with my tutor David Ellison, after I submitted my dummy to his attention as he required, I could see that a lot of work must still be done to create a proper publication. He provided me with useful suggestions I can take in account to create my Work in Progress Portfolio too, since the path I am undertaking for this book might be similar to the one I can use to create that document. He also suggested me to decompose elements of my contact sheets to create a wider diversity and avoiding a static result. I think this is a very good idea and makes me wonder if the best solution for a publication about my project might be a series of small books in sequence, each one portraying a phase of my work: in this way I could experiment more with visual solutions and I could provide a wider diversity and a stronger “visual movement” to my work.
What worked in this experiment, I think, is that those materials included provide a logical trail that can be easily followed, a “melting pot” of black and white and in colours images with texts coherent with the style used, so far, online to share my photographs. I presented this dummy during my workshop and I could see that people were interested in my work and they made me a lot of questions about it, especially because of language barriers since many people in Italy don’t speak English, even if we are a Country that is one of the most visited touristic destination by people from all the Globe. They told me they were fascinated by the long-exposure images and by the variety of solutions that can be used to portray a topic and so I felt almost satisfied, for once, by my work.
Of course, I also had to ask myself what did not work. I think that I should have created a better conceived publication, dividing it by contents or techniques in different small books, as said, but trying also to create a story that can be told. For instance, a solution could be creating brief written stories that begin but that never end and insert them in each part of the book, like in a diary. Like for Ed Templeton’s “Deformer”, they could be handwritten. Of course they can’t represent what my sitters are screaming for because I think that their privacy must be respected and because I want to avoid that sense of voyeurism related to the pain of others that Susan Sontag discussed in her publications. Of course, this is something I am still planning and so it is just food for thoughts.
I want to improve it to provide viewers with contents they might want to think about and to interiorise: the best solution might be to insert also some articles and an introduction written by professionals and artists related to different fields who collaborated with me, to provide different perspectives and to meet the needs of different types of learners, because not everyone is “a visual” and some people might need or require even a more scientific background to accept the validity of my project. Another thing will be to create a website and to collect further materials there available to all those users who want to deeper explore the subject matter and to provide all the necessary information to visit it into the publication as well.
Burki Marie José, Marie José Burki, 1998, Camden Arts Centre, London, UK.
Leopardi Giacomo, Zibaldone di pensieri, first edition published with the title Pensieri di varia filosofia e di bella letteratura, curated by Giosuè Carducci, 1898-1900, Le Monnier/Mondadori, Firenze, Italy.
Lomax Jenni, Pohlen Annelie, Burkard Lene, Hentschel Matin, Foreword to Marie José Burki, 1998, Camden Arts Centre, London, UK, pp.5.
Marconi Dayana, I can hear you now – Introductive video – Four ‘Characters’ empathizing with the Author, released on Vimeo on May 2017 https://vimeo.com/213764162
Marconi Dayana, I can hear you now – Video self-portrait, released on Vimeo on April 2017 https://vimeo.com/208347694
Sontag Susan, Regarding the pain of others, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, NY, USA. https://monoskop.org/images/a/a6/Sontag_Susan_2003_Regarding_the_Pain_of_Others.pdf
Templeton Ed, Deformer, 2008, Alleged Press and Damiani Editore, Bologna, Italy.