After discussing my Work in Progress Portfolio with my Professor Anna-Maria Pfab and my Tutors Krishna Sheth and Paul Clements, I am pondering how to create a consistent and coherent path for this document. I have to admit I am currently very concerned since this Assignment counts for a 60% of the final mark: the itinerary it represents must be clear using images only, avoiding written explanations apart from images’ titles, “Chapters” titles and those written texts which are integral parts of the photographs and videos themselves.
The fact is that “I can hear you now” is not about a “static” topic: its subject matter is constantly evolving and it is represented from different angles, making past and present collide. As the title of this post declares, my project wants to be a journey into the psychological world of my sitters, and mine, through emotions. The act of screaming itself, representative of my current practice, is simply “an instrument” to release those emotions, not the whole project. Personally speaking, in this moment I would like to scream myself. I would like to scream because I am afraid the work done so far might be not enough to pass this Module, I would like to scream because this project is so personal and important to me and I am not sure I am actually able to represent its relevance, I would like to scream because I am constantly having panic attacks, the very same panic attacks that, alongside my Anxiety Disorder, are the starting point of this project, the emotional and psychological status I am trying to exorcise using Photography. “I can hear you now” is born because I realised that I am not the only individual facing this condition, nowadays: many people have to constantly deal with it, in different ways and for different reasons, but I think it is important to make my audience understand this point. We are not alone. We can support each other even simply with an act of empathy, trying to actually see, and HEAR, who is in front of us.
But there is another point to consider: even if the screaming-related images are so fundamental for all those mentioned reasons, I felt the urge to represent the stories behind that action, because we are our past, not only our acts. Our personal experience, our memories have a dramatic impact on the individuals we are today. There is a whole “inner world” to investigate and visit. A world made of stories that deserve to be narrated, analysed and understood. Most of still and in-motion images I have recently created focus on this point.
At this stage, I decided to deeper observe and represent that world from different perspectives that, colliding and reinforcing each other’s impact on viewers, could enhance that sense of empathy that, as stated, is the main aim of my work. But how to effectively link all those viewpoints? How to recreate a logical path to follow since into my WIP I am allowed to publish images only? How make those photographs and videos speak by themselves, as said? The problem here is to avoid the confusion that too many different directions might generate, as the received feedbacks pointed out but, at the same time, to represent those multiple realities working together.
I previously mentioned, discussing my intentions related to the creation of a project’s website, “The Canary and the Hammer”, created by the artist Lisa Barnard. To re-quote the British photographer, “This depository strives to make connections between these very different stories. It represents a personal journey through the world of gold and the structure of the story mirrors the complexity of the task of representing the world in these fragmented and troubling times” (Barnard, 2017). The same could be said discussing my project: it connects different stories, different points of view, different interpretations of the delicate subject matter it is representing. Moreover, since I cannot sell those photographs depicting my sitters screaming, if not in relation to a specific context like a campaign for a Charity, because I would not feel comfortable taking that decision, those “Behind a scream” stories might create a true economic sustainability for my project, since my intention is to collect them in photographic books that can be sold. They can be put into the Market because they would allow readers to narrate those stories by themselves and this would serve the scope of the project: reading the incipit and observing the related image, they can recreate that world in their minds, using their personal experiences. We all observe things in accordance with who we are, our opinions, our memories. We appreciate the images we can understand or that we can relate with, and so, assuming that every individual that will browse my book has experienced at least once in his/her life a negative moment, they will surely have the ability to continue writing those “tales” into the blank pages that will follow each photograph. For this purpose, I am considering self-publishing as a suitable solution, even if I have not decide yet what path to follow in this case: it could be the “Self-publish, Be happy” approach or I could consider an online solution, like Amazon Kidle direct Publishing.
But going back now to the Work in Progress Portfolio: I can’t insert photographs created during previous Modules to provide a visual background and since during this one I followed also different directions, how to link what I have created to all those concepts avoiding confusion?
The only way, in my opinion, is to follow the following path:
- Starting with “I can hear you now – the emotional response” video, that shows the reaction of the audience observing my work. The subject is covered in all those screams previously photographed and she is forced to stand still watching my “Video self-portrait” that represents a moment in my life in which I was still suffering mostly for the loss of my beloved grandmother. The video she is watching and the photographs projected on her body serve as a link to the previous phases of my project.
- Since those photographs filmed into this video are selected from those long-exposure “Sequences” (previously named “Contact-sheets” in accordance with the technique used, but now re-named “Sequences” to avoid confusion during the evaluation phase and to provide a clearer sense of what I am depicting) and “Confrontation sheets” I often mentioned in this CRJ, I decided to include two photographs each, alternating them but divided by sitter, for a total of four images, naming this section “Can you detect an emotion? Follow the trail, go closer” because, in the end, with these photographs I am asking what the woman into the previous video is doing: understanding, empathising. They are alternated because we don’t feel a single emotion a time, often we have to face many of them at once: this is what Confrontation Sheets explain to observers. At the same time, giving them the chance to observe the whole emotional trail my sitters follow while releasing their discomfort with a scream is important: they can observe different reactions, a different way to charge and discharge those feelings, they can relate with them.
- Then I will include two further hyperlinks taking to the related two “Emotional Score Experiments” The first one is narrating the story of one of my sitters, while the second one is depicting a portion of my past. They are the best connection possible, in my opinion, between the video and the photographic sections and they are correlated to the “Emotional Scream Experiment #1” video I have created with the same film composer during “Informing Context” Module. As into my Sequences there is a trail to follow, here we face the same situation, even if the images are different since they start showing those stories behind the screams. I am not going to insert images related to these videos on my Portfolio, in accordance with the indications received by Professors during previous Modules. Feedbacks are important and must be taken in account.
- To conclude, I decided to insert “Behind a Scream” photographic images that portray the same model, often portrayed with a second one, into different areas of the same location of the previous two videos. They tell those “emotional tales” with the use of text insert with the same handwritten font I used for my Confrontation sheets.
This progression makes sense to me and it means providing at least 12 out of a maximum of 18 pieces of my work. But I sense that something is missing here. This portfolio starts with a woman observing me screaming, so can I include a section that explains what is “Behind my scream”?
As mentioned, my scream into that video was generated by grief and a sense of loss and isolation and it was strictly connected with my grandma and that mutual “womanhood” relationship is gone lost into my family once she died. She was our glue, without her my mother, my aunt and me became individuals and not parts of that tight group anymore. I am the genetic result of those women forming that community: in my personality, my face, my hands, my hair, my soul I see “pieces of them” and now one of those pieces is lost. It exists in my memories only.
I started representing that sense of loss in one of those “Details” I have photographically created and I truly believe that the suggestion of my Tutor Krishna makes sense: to further investigate this direction using the same tones, colours and lights I have used for that image. Creating a story made of memories and objects recalling my grandmother and my relationship with her”.
But does it make sense doing it right now? Is it the right way? Should I wait and create those images for next WIP? Would they result coherent with other images?
Lights and colours, even if more delicate and less “dark”, are connected to other photographs and I feel it is right concluding by portraying what is behind that sound we can hear into the first video included into the portfolio, but would this article, alongside some others I could write to explain this specific concept, be enough to justify the presence of those images at this stage? Would it be enough including these details into my Oral Presentation since I will also have to focus on the sustainability of my project in ten minutes? Would including this section mean excluding important information that need to be shared in that context?
These are doubts that still generate a lot of anxiety in me since I am also running out of time. I hope that this last webinar with my Tutor and involving also my other Tutor Paul Clements into the discussion would help me in understand how to proceed since my Professor did not exclude this section a priori, but she is also right when she says that not supported by texts it might weaken the cohesive approach I am desperately trying to pursue: this is why I am currently considering to focus my attention on this section only after this Assignments’ period. It requires my whole attention and must be created with care and even if it is important to me creating thise series, it does not mean I necessarily have to do it right now.
After careful considerations, I decided to follow my instinct and to strictly adhere to the list of contents I previously mentioned for the creation my WIP.
I had to face, then, another challenge: how to order my “Behind a Scream” stills?
Following images’ succession and reading the related texts, becomes visible the meta-textual content I recreated, generated by the narration of a story made of different small stories. They work as single images and as a whole body of work at the same time. They depict a tale told by two different perspectives that collide when the big story ends. There are two women: in the first images one is the narrator, while in the last ones the second subject continues the “tale”. This change is also marked by the changes in colours, tones and lights of my images. What creates that collision between the two different narrative voices is the last photograph, explaining that, in reality, there is only a single person depicted into that sequence. After traumatic events, often people describe their mental reaction to them as sort of out-of-body experience. Since my work is focused on negative emotions generated by events or memories to reach a new positivity, I believe this was a good way to represent that concept: ending that story made of stories with a promise, by portraying the subject predicting that everything will be just fine somehow, but, at the same time, discovering that she is making this promise to herself, that she is holding her own hands.
After completing the submission of my WIP, alongside another work created in Los Angeles, I used some of the images of my project “I can hear you now” (and from my current WIP as well, of course) to submit an entry for the International Photography Award (IPA) 2018 lead by the British Journal of Photography: https://enter.bjpipa.com/share/ddbf40bb07ff915a59d69e80a1632aac/.
I think it was important to start following the priceless advice my Tutor Krishna gave me: “Trust yourself” (and my work, of course). Moreover, having even external feedbacks might help me in understanding what kind of impact my work has on an “Professional” audience who look at it for the first time not having previous information: something important also to create my final portfolio for this MA.
Amazon Kindle direct publishing, online service https://kdp.amazon.com/it_IT?ref_=kdpgp_p_it_psg_pt_ad2
Barnard Lisa, official website http://lisabarnard.co.uk/
Barnard Lisa, The Canary and the Hammer, project’s website http://www.thegolddepository.com/ (quote into the “About” section)
British Journal of Photography, International Photography Award 2018, official website https://www.bjpipa.com/
Marconi Dayana, official Vimeo page https://vimeo.com/dayanamarconi
Ceschel Bruno, Self-Publish, Be happy, a DIY Photobook Manual and Manifesto, 2015, Aperture Foundation, NY, USA.