The last photograph for Assignment 1 – Body of Work was inspired by Mari Mahr and Noémie Goudal. I have looked at the work of Mari Mahr previously in Contextual Studies and I was appreciative of how realistically the object placed in front of the printed photograph looked, with just the slightest clue from shadows presumably deliberately placed alluding to the fact it was a fabrication of reality. I have also identified Mahr placed all her objects in front of the printed photograph and had instead experimented with placing the object behind the printed photograph by cutting out a part of the printed photograph. I would say this was fairly successful but did look a bit contrived and overly otherworldly in my opinion.
I have since procrastinated over and contemplated about how to implement this idea better into my work. Much of my procrastination concerns ‘tessellating reality’. This is just a term I have come up with where a scene from reality is photographed and then printed so that a single print is made up from smaller tessellations. This appeals to me because of my interest in ulterior reality. Here I feel in today’s society we are so absorbed by social media and consumerism (and the image world) that we forget abut the real, tangible world around us. As a side note I say ‘we’ but this is a general observation of the people around me or could equally be a reflection of self. The problem with the concept of tessellating reality was that in my mind it had to appear in the same place it originated from and this I felt limited me and therefore I procrastinated.
Eventually I came across Noémie Goudal’s work. At first I was looking on my smartphone and wasn’t that enamoured by her work. However, I did feel there was something different abut the photographs she presented. By looking closer (and on my bigger computer monitor), I was able to discern that most of the photographs contained prints that merged into their surroundings. These prints were made up of smaller tessellation prints and this piqued my curiosity. The thing that impressed me most about Goudal’s work was that each series used the tessellating prints in different ways; some were peeling off onto a white background, some were seemingly hanging improbably large in mid air and some appeared on different planes from each other (Studies on Perspective I (Goudal, 2014)). This last kind of tessellation, is similar to Georges Rousse’s oeuvre but with photographs was inspiring for me.
I wouldn’t say I was directly inspired by Goudal’s work; more the possibilities and playfulness implied by Goudal reminded me of my initial thoughts when I started contemplating an ulterior reality and tessellations. This was that a playful reality might be conjured up from the usual reality through the use of photographs, typical of the social media and consumerism we see and that nowadays captures so much of our attention.
The possibilities and playfulness I saw in Goudal’s work and the idea of taking Mahr’s printed image but placing the object behind the print led me to a bit of eureka moment in conceptualising an ulterior reality. Here, I printed a large print of a scene I had already decided was a good candidate for this idea. Then I cut out a hole in which my hand and a part of the initial print (albeit a smaller version of the space it occupied) fit through. The idea was that by lining up the smaller print with the inside edges of the bigger print a tessellation would occur. This tessellation wouldn’t be perfect on a number of accounts and it wasn’t meant to be. For me this was part of the charm of the idea. The biggest clue that it wasn’t a perfect tessellation was that my fingers holding the smaller photograph were showing! These and other factors like depth of field basically meant there wasn’t a single photograph but instead a smaller photograph coming out of a larger one. The illusion that it was one whole photograph was still real though especially at first glance and so in my opinion it achieved the playful nature I had been searching for. In the end it turned out that my hand came from behind the bigger print while the smaller print it was holding appeared in front of the hole in the bigger print.
There was actually quite a lot of thought and planning that went into creating this illusion of one photograph. Luckily I had already taken the photograph I would print and it had a segment where someone had graffitied ‘LOVE’ on a wall somewhere in Deptford. The graffiti conveniently fit the space where my hand would be holding the smaller tessellation print. Then I had to decide how big to print the two photos. The smaller print I would be holding had to be smaller than its bigger partner because it would appear closer to the camera. I experimented with the aperture to photograph the tessellation so that the illusion would appear quite seamless but not perfect. Then I had the task of holding the smaller print until it matched up with the bigger print. To do this on my own I used the remote feature of my camera via WI-FI to connect to my smartphone. I used the brickwork to line up the two prints as best as I could and then pressed the capture button on the smartphone.
Goudal, N. (2014) Studies on Perspective I. At: http://noemiegoudal.com/study-on-perspective/ (Accessed 08/04/2019).
Mahr, M. (s.d.) Mari Mahr. At: http://marimahr.com/works/index.html (Accessed 08/04/2019).