Sunday, 4 March 2012

No title

Physically the taking of these photographs wasn't particularly easy - each exposure was eight minutes; it was made easier because I was alone, but to get a similar position for each of the three poses took a bit of guesswork. I sat for them in the reverse order that they appear, but on review the initial three seem to encapsulate my thoughts of "me" better then the second set of three. I've never tried self portraiture before this course, I have never had the process of thought that might want to engage in this form of expression. I had taken a "portrait with no face" earlier as part of the Roswell Angier "Train Your Gaze" assignment, which seemed much easier as it wasn't me it was a character being portrayed by me.

Eight minutes is a long time. You get to think about quite a lot in eight minutes and when there are six eight minutes it is even longer, much too long for self contemplation. "Why am I doing this?" was a question that raised it's head a few times, it was therefore a force of will to stay the course, to see the process to a conclusion, at each phase of the operation. I had no idea of the outcome, there is no viewfinder in the zone plate camera to enable some information to gauge the likely area to sit and pose, the wide angle (20mm equivalent on a 35mm camera) would make it easy to get "in" shot. I had "pre-visualised" the transient shot - but that is about all. The post process time isn't short either; I took the shots on Wednesday, developed them on Wednesday evening; scanned them on Friday and post-processed them on screen on Saturday (I had a good idea what they were like when the negatives had dried i.e. that the exposure had worked etc, but it is only in the print that reality starts to kick-in). All through that time I could have given up or given in and not finished the process. I'm still not sure why I did finish, or why I didn't give in to temptation and go and do something less painful.

So why? And why these shots/poses? I thought about artifice, or at least the lack of it; I wanted to have as little affectation as possible and thought of the classic "offender" shot - left, right and face on. I knew that the diffused effect was an artifice, I knew that it was therefore, in part, a cop-out, I also knew this was a "way-in"(which is why I took another with the 35mm camera and have included it at the end of this post).

The photographs that best express myself at the moment are the transient images, the three that have me half there and half not, either having left, or, more likely, still trying to get there. Simply by leaving the chair after four minutes and allowing the film to continue to expose for another four minutes would provide this ephemeral image. The chair staying solid and consistent, the sitter part there, part somewhere else. The "offender" kept re-appearing as I sat there. Guilty or not guilty?

Technical details:

Top six: Zero-image zone plate camera, Technical Pan developed in Technidol

Last shot: Pentax MZ-5, Fuji Neopan 1600, developed in Prescysol, 90mm lens


  1. Overall that was a long time to sit, in reverie. It made me think of McFall's mystical monitor - sitting in a room for an hour by oneself and just talking into a tape recorder.
    You look very 'present' in the final image. I keep thinking about video and whether still images from one would give a different perspective.


  2. It certainly was a long time and I'm not sure I'd recommend it to anyone and as for McFall's monitor I felt sorry for Ellen when I asked her to talk for 30 sec's non-stop, let alone an hour! I think that a frame from a video would provide something very different; sitting still for all that time is a force of will, knowing that a frame would be taken would mean a different psychological approach from the sitter I think, though a video of someone for eight minutes would be a test of both sitter AND viewer.

  3. I really like these images - especially the ones with the chair. Well done.

  4. Thanks Helen, not sure "like" is what I feel about them, but it was therapeutic and I felt as if I should experience it after asking Ellen to do so!