Step One: Tweet a synopsis of my assignment.
Step Two: Investigate the author, and make a portrait of them. Post the portrait, and some key statements about them, to Instagram.
CAPTION ON INSTAGRAM
Paul Reas is a photographer primarily known for his documentary work exploring British consumerism during the 1980s. His image tend to deemphasize style and tight composition in favor of presenting a true to life representation of his subjects. Despite his work occupying a space in the public consciousness for so long its interesting on how many of his humorous and clever observations about poverty, manic consumerism, unemployment and a shifts in societal order are still relevant. I tried to capture that element of time moving forward but nothing really changing in his portrait. One half is immersed in a late 70s to 80s grain effect and some scratches to make it look like an old recovered photo, with black and white to emphasize the contrast, while the other is in full digital colour. I have done this to represent his message crossing over from one time period into the current one.
Step Three: Analyze his work and make an image in the style.
Reas primarily makes photography meant to give commentary on the economic situation of the subject’s location, usually late 20th century Bradford. It usually portrays a witty and darkly comical take on the poverty and unemployment of small town Britain. An example being his “daydreaming about the good times” image. He took a photograph at a post office on the day people cash their unemployment cheques while an advertisement with the image’s title flashed on a nearby screen. Its a deeply upsetting implication with a darkly satirical edge. However, when I came to do my photograph I decided to focus on his darker emotional tone. I decided that I would focus on commentary but in this case this issue that effects me most, namely disability. I have taken a shot of myself sprawled across my bed with various medication in the dark to give the viewer an impression of the difficulties that people like me deal with. I have done it a very contrasty black and white to enhance the mood and emulate Reas’ classic film aesthetic.
Step Four: Complete the assignment in step one
Step Five: Create a critical analysis explaining why the work is the way it is.
The image that was a reference point when creating it was an image from a personal favourite of mine Daido Moriyama and his image “entertainer on stage”. I loved it for its ability to convey a real sense of strain and exertion emanating from the subject, one can almost hear the sound coming from the performer’s mouth despite the image being static. I decided that I wanted to reimagine its tone and presentation in a piece of my own work.
As is apparent there are quite a few aesthetic similarities between my image and Moriyama’s, for instance the stained teeth, straining subject and grainy black and white texture, but there are a few notable ways in which I have tried to deviate from Moriyama’s work. The original work had an emphasis on harsh whites which gave the image an ethereal quality whereas I wanted to make my image a sort of tonal counterpoint, creating deep blacks and grays creating a dark and misanthropic atmosphere. My desire to reinterpret the emotions of Moriyama is also demonstrated in the expression. Where “Entertainer on Stage” conveyed either passion or sorrow, at least in my interpretation, I decided I wanted to convey a feeling of raw physical agony or antisocial anger. This attitude which rejects the outsider also reflects an emotional contrast between the two images since an entertainer is someone who performs for the amusement of their audience whereas the presentation of my work takes a far more confrontational approach.
Daido Moriyama – Entertainer on Stage