…Fire?

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I read a story a long time ago by Maurice Blanchot called, “The Instant of my Death.(“http://www.amazon.co.uk/Instant-My-Death-Meridian-Aesthetics/dp/0804733260/ref=sr_1_1/277-5025662-4943746?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1259148826&sr=8-1) It is a story about an unnamed french resistance fighter (Maquis) who has been put before a nazi firing squad towards the end of the second world war. However, when he is blindfolded and preparing himself for his death, the firing squad disappears silently. Leaving him to contemplate his death that never came.

This idea of death recognized, then unfulfilled is a great metaphor for the measuring of existence. The idea that one’s life will be played out before their eyes moments before death is a very ancient and cathartic process. For this series of past events to occur in a person’s mind (to recount their existence) and then to be suddenly given a last-minute reprieve from the universe is particularly interesting when relating to this experiment.

While perhaps in terms of photography it is rarely depicted, in painting however it has two very famous representations, thanks to Édouard Manet and Francisco Goya. Within which i shall leave you for now.

“Execution of Maximilian.” 1867.

“The Third Of May,1808.” 1814.

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Friedlander & Atget

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Lee Friedlander is a particularly interesting photographer. After i got thinking about the use of shadows within photography i was reminded of the first image in this sequence, and subsequently found other shadow images that he has taken. He was also influenced by Eugène Atget, the early french master of the medium:

 

 

 


He’s quite good too. Ha.

 

Vashta Nerada

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I recently watched a documentary about Jacques Henri Lartigue, famous for his photographs taken as a child at the turn of the century of Parisian life at the time. While certainly a photographic legend i wouldn’t really call him an influence to my practice, but at the end of this documentary there were several shots that he had taken a few weeks before his death.

Essentially they were black and white photo’s of his shadow, taken from the front so the camera was hidden by the shadow in question. They were simple images, if not a little contrived and overplayed, yet they struck a chord with me. In my head i wondered if he was almost aware of his imminent death, as if he was trying to photogram himself onto the earth to leave some sort of a record, a testament to the fact that he once existed. These images would provide him with closure also, a death note to himself and others, nothing flamboyant or eccentric but something simple and poignant.

Now i’m wondering, should shadows be the unit of measurement that i use to define existence? It’s really struck a chord with me so i think i’m going to have to research this further.

I’ll try to find examples of his shadow photographs soon, my searches online have so far been unsuccessful.

Ready? Aim…

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Existence is a hard enough concept to pin down without any attempt to extract  an arbitrary measurement from it. However i also don’t want to be tied down to trying to analyse the idea too much, so, i’m going to cheat and let Monsieur Descartes do the talking.

“Cogito ergo sum” or I think, therefore I am”.

Therefore, if existence can be measured by a persons perception of their own life, it’s measurement can be said to exist from the moment of birth to the moment of death. Right, i have my unit of measurement, now i just have to find a way to visually represent that.

The problem is though, how long i know when people/myself will die? Does anyone know how long a piece of string is?

I’ve been alive for 8,225 days as of today.

Trying To Measure Frustration.

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The first part of my MA course is a “Thought Experiment”, essentially a sentence or phrase that is to encourage you into thinking creatively or differently about your work/practice/theory. It’s also a primarily process based project, theoretically i wouldn’t even have to produce any work at the end of the project, just simply show my workings and thoughts through its lifespan (Like in GCSE maths where you’d get most of the marks if you got the workings right, even if the answer was wrong).

The phrase is taken from “101 Experiments in the Philosophy of Everyday Life” by Roger-Pol Droit(http://www.amazon.co.uk/101-Experiments-Philosophy-Everyday-Life/dp/0571212069). We were asked to choose out of a selection of unmarked envelopes and we did. Soon after the ensuing melee i was suddenly the proud owner of No. 21: Try to Measure Existence.

The sheer vagueness of this experiment is it’s biggest strength, and its biggest weakness. While in theory, under the guise of “Measuring Existence” i could possibly justify anything and simply carry on with what i was doing before. But as i have stated, thats not what its really about. It’s designed to push you away from standard practices into something more experimental.

Now to begin the inevitable thinking process. I shall return my findings soon.

In The Beginning…

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Well, this is it. I finally succumbed to doing something i’d wanted to do for a very long time. As part of my MA course requirement’s, i must produce a visual diary. To those of you not familiar with the term it is essentially a book in which one rambles about things that they have seen or read that make them think; “Bugger, i wish i’d thought of that.”

And so, i thought i’d try an online visual diary. I appreciate it’s certainly not a new idea, nor a particularly original one either but i thought i’d try something different for me (If not just for my own sanity, very little inspires greater apathy in me than having to buy an overpriced sketch book then revealing to the world my characteristically demented handwriting).

And so, i shall try my best to update it often with my recycled insights into the art world, and try to write eloquently without sounding to much like a pseudo intellectual arse. As much as i might be one. On that delightful note i shall end on a quote by Karl Krauss which i heard recently (Via Stephen Fry) and felt it relevant to this new, public endeavour of mine:

“Language is the Universal Whore, that i must make into a Virgin.”

Where Am I?

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