I plan to organise my texts thematically rather than chronologically also in a structure that focuses on the most important and useful sources because I feel that this best fits by project structure and development…
- P1 – Introduction / Gunning, T. (1989) ‘The Cinema of Attractions: Early Film, Its Spectators and the Avant-Garde’, Wide Angle. Vol 8 (2/3).
- P2 – Foster, H. (1993) Compulsive Beauty (1st ed.) London: MIT Press (needs to be finished)
- P3 – Freud, Sigmund. (2003) The Uncanny. [Online] London: Penguin Books. [Accessed 15 March 2017]
- P4– Peres, R. (2013) The Focal Encyclopaedia of Photography. [Online] 4th ed. Burlington: Focal Press. [Accessed 15 March 2017]
P5 – Conclusion / Further research proposed
“Compulsive Beauty” by Hal Foster (1993), initially introduced me to the concept of the ‘uncanny’ acknowledging its longstanding relationship with surrealism, and psychological repression. Foster outlined surrealism, describing estrangement as a symptom of the uncanny; whereby the familiar become suddenly distant or foreign. Also, considering the “fixed explosive” as “the expiration of motion”. This added a further theoretical framework of my photography as it acts to freeze the subject in motion; temporally suspending and preserving its likeness within an image. Photographic mimicry of this kind creates an illusion of “the fixed explosive” due to the nature of my subjects being depicted in motion.
Foster’s (1993) analysis provoked me to research Freudian research and conceptualisation of the uncanny, outlining its surrealist origin and historical background. It is defined as a strong sense of uncertainty as to whether an animate object is perhaps not. This theoretical framework alongside artist research allowed me to develop a well-informed methodology whilst also justifying my strong focus on wax figurines.
Still-life became an integral element of my production, a text by R. Peres (2013) developed my understanding of this, outlining its characteristics, origins and approaches. This touched upon various other elements of my photography, discussing still-life compositions as metaphorical and narrative based. It is defined by its subject matter, lighting and arrangement. R. Peres, acknowledged how lighting defines object texture, form and shape (2013:325). The importance of lighting images effectively was also illustrated by Hiroshi Sugimoto’s diorama photography and is also a fundamental consideration within my own images. Historically, still-life paintings contain ‘lavish’ artefacts that have been carefully assembled as visual representations that embody and perpetuate specific discourses. This parallels my practical approach as the act of photographing wax statues, I am preserving their likeness and integrity whilst temporally suspending them within an image. Further complementing my interest in museological practices and their emphasis on historical preservation.
He also examined still life, drawing on the process of abstraction as a method to supplant an “objects physical characteristics”, noting how the composition then becomes a system of “symbolic associations” rather than a medium of direct and literal meaning (2013:325). Inspiring me to reconsider subject-viewer interaction, leading me to question whether my subject’s physical and hyper-realistic features invite emotional responses, thus heightening the uncanniness of my images? This is a point I will consider in further research.
Vergo (2000) examined historical developments within museums paying attention to the presence of waxwork figures within institutional spaces. Anatomical waxworks are often used as ‘substitutions’ for nature and are often regarded as “a legitimate source of knowledge” whilst also acting as a portal that encourages sexual fantasies and fetishism (2000:36). This also links with my earlier photographic series that critiqued commodity fetishism.
These texts have enhanced and broadened my understanding of surrealism and still-life photography whilst also providing me with various methodological approaches that will allow me to effectively capture the uncanny and fixed explosive within my photography. I plan to conduct further research into texts that explore museum media and immersion whilst also examining embodiment and the presence of waxworks in relation to museum media, this will provide me with greater insight into how my project will come together as a whole whilst justifying my interest into waxwork figures.
Word count – 539
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