Tutorial Write Up // Jim Campbell – 25.09.16

After having a few days to look over the brief and come up with a few ideas, I spoke with Jim about the possible outcomes for this project. My initial ideas were to work with moving image, and to produce a photographers film. However, my choice of subject matter and therefore basis of a project was still very much in the infancy stage. The idea about there only being two types of photographers interested me greatly and got me thinking about my own practice. There are those that use photography to explore a personal topic, and point the camera inwards towards something close to home, and then there are those who look to the external world to produce work. I do however believe that there is a spectrum when it comes to this idea, as different projects throughout a photographers career will lend themselves to each area of interest. I think that I sit somewhere towards the ‘out there’ side of the spectrum, as I have always had an interest in the dynamics of the city, and the idea of photographic exploration being something responsive and instinctive, depending on the environment. However, even though I am dealing with things that exist in the outside world, there is still a massive level of personal involvement and personal exploration.

In this tutorial, I explained to Jim that I found it very difficult to get inspired over the summer for various reasons, but felt determined to make a strong body of work for this Obsessions project. I said that I had an interest in photographing the city again, and wanted to further explore the built environment. I suppose my obsession stems from the need to comprehend things, and I want to be able to communicate the dynamics of the city. The idea of in-between or transitional spaces was an idea that I had, and Jim also thought that there was mileage in a project exploring this idea. He pointed me in the direction of philosopher Michael Foucault and Roland Barthes to begin reading into the subject of heterotopias or non-places. I wanted to discover these types of environments within the city of Bristol, and to respond accordingly. We therefore discussed the possibility of shooting this project using a medium format camera, so my next step was hire out the Mamiya RZ67 and begin photographing in a slow and considered manor. I think this process was well suited to my temperament, and meant that I could really explore the built environment in depth. In addition, the quality of 120 film is very high, and the level of detail captured means that I can communicate a lot about these spaces. Jim suggested using the Portra 160 or 400 film stock for this project, and to then scan in the negatives and create digital files.

As well as pointing me in the direction of relevant theory, Jim also provided me with some other photographers that share a similar interest with me. In particular, Andy Sewell produced a body of work about Hampstead Heath which sought to explore the controlled environment of a local park. He was interested in the uses of such a place, as it is not far from city so it is maintained by the local council, but it still somehow manages to maintain a sense of adventure and wilderness. It enables the public to get lost, if only momentarily. People enjoy escapism, and parks provide that outlet.

We also discussed the influence of the great American Colourists, such as Stephen Shore, William Eggleston and Joel Sternfeld. Such photographers have all produced work in which the outside world provide a solid platform for photographic exploration. However, such project have taken years to accumulate, whereas I will only be able to scratch the surface within the short time frame that I have. I therefore intend to make this project like a study of a wider, larger project that will continue in the future.

 

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