During this workshop Mike showed us some photographs from his recent trip to Hong Kong, these were very interesting to me as I am extremely enthusiastic about travel photography and have never visited this part of the world. We then learnt about the transition over time of selling and copying photographs. This was useful as I didn’t realise photographs could be sold for so much from auctions.
In these workshops we were given time to work on our 2 final assignments for this module as well as any other outstanding work. I managed to finish my list article for the second assignment, I am glad I now have this out of the way so I can focus on my outstanding assignments.
During the session in week 8, we were given the final topic for our assignment which was ‘The Journey’. Our task was to research an image that shows a stage of a journey, either physical or spiritual, the motivations for that journey and what was discovered there. This was another of my favourite tasks as although it took some time to find a suitable theme, I chose to base my piece on the both physical and mental journey of the firefighters involved in the rescue and recovery efforts after the 9/11 attacks in New York City. (See post http://wp.me/p2KG4i-2F )
During the session in week 9 we were given an overview of all the tasks we are to complete for our final assignment and time to catch up on research and reflections, this was useful as I had a number of reflections to complete and it made me more confident in knowing what was to be expected on deadline day.
Rather than choosing images that display your typical journey, I chose to look further, choosing these three images that show not only the massive physical journey ahead, but also the mental voyage ahead.
These three photographs were taken as the rescue and recovery effort began after the horrific terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York on the morning of September 11th 2001.
Finding these photographs on the Internet, neither had a description, or any type of explanation at all, but to me it is not particularly necessary. Both of these images reflect the enormous rescue and clean up efforts by the extremely brave emergency services of New York City.
On the morning of September 11th, the New York City Fire Department deployed 200 units, which is half of their whole department, to the site of the World Trade Center, 400 fire-fighters were on the scene. The NYPD and Port Authority Police officers on the site were both given orders to evacuate, leaving the FDNY to conduct the rescue of civilians alone. Due to loss of contact through a number of radio difficulties, many fire-fighters did not receive evacuation orders even after the first tower had collapsed, resulting in a traumatic loss of life for 343 of those fire- fighters brave enough to enter the buildings.
In the moment these photographs were captured, New York’s emergency services would not have known the scale of this operation, which would take 8 months to complete. The short term goals of these fire-fighters was to evacuate every single person from the buildings, in the following days these goals then changed into recovering the bodies of those who had unfortunately passed to give their grieving families sorrow, but also relief. Many of the workers of this rescue and recovery effort still suffer to this day, both physically and mentally. Not only do these three photographs represent a physical struggle to sift through the massive amount of debris, but it also reflects the mental journey through dealing with the colossal trauma for years to come.
Photographs that tell a story- Elliot Erwitt’s ‘Segregated Water Fountains’
This photograph was taken by Elliot Erwitt in 1950 in North Carolina, USA, and represents the injustice of segregation of black and white people in America during this time.
At the time the image was an example of how much things needed to change, now we see this photograph we can see how much times have changed and to reflect on the past. The interesting thing about this photograph is that we don’t necessarily need to know any background information. The photograph itself tells the story. The ‘white’ water fountain is visibly more luxurious than the ‘colored’. We can therefore see straight away that the image is simply evidence of controversial inequality. We can see on the man’s face him glancing almost longingly at the ‘white’ fountain.
Discrimination in America took a turn for the worse after the Civil War and segregation was becoming increasingly apparent. When the U.S. joined WWII the southern society was fully segregated. Everything from schools, restaurants, hotels, train cars, waiting rooms, elevators, public bathrooms, colleges, hospitals, cemetery, swimming pools, drinking fountains, prisons, and even churches had separate areas for whites and blacks.
The civil rights movement enforced legislations and organised efforts to abolish the segregation of African Americans and other ethnic minorities between 1954-1968, 4 years after Elliot Erwitt took this photograph.
The topic of this workshop was storytelling, and how images can be used as a lone tool for narrative. We learnt what the different purposes of storytelling have been since even before evidenced images, for example for entertainment, education, cultural preservation, guidance and moral values. We learnt about the work of Rackham, Tenniel and Edd Gyne. We were then given our assignment on the topic of storytelling. This was one of my favourite tasks to complete as I am very interested in researching the difference between the real story behind a photograph and the message it actually conveys.
Social Commentary- 2wenty’s “Social Cigarettes”
This poster, designed by LA street artist ‘2wenty’, is a good example of social comment. The comparison of social network Facebook to cigarettes reflects how the site is a cultural addiction with ‘600 million smokers’ and is now a massive part of society. The piece has given the 30 year old artist widespread attention from a number of galleries across the world after appearing across the streets of LA.
2wenty gave reasoning for his piece “I make pieces about what’s bothering me. People are always on Facebook at work and while walking down the street.” “I hope the pieces make people notice their addiction to Facebook.” Though admits the irony is that I’m on Facebook all the time, too.”
The comparison of a website to a drug may seem a bit over zealous, however it is becoming increasingly evident that social networks, and the internet in general, have people hooked and without checking their networks every so often, feel deprived.
The piece has become so popular among the public that mock Facebook cigarette packets are now available to buy online, a replica of that displayed in galleries across the world. The 3-D version includes a mock surgeon general’s warning that cautions: “Facebook may cause loss of time, poor work ethic, obesity, social disorder and possible interference of destiny.”
During this workshop we learnt about social comment. We learnt about the effect the images taken by Magnum group effected the rest of society and how social commentary could be manipulated through the media. We were then given another part of our assignment which was to research an image that discusses social comment, how effective it is, what techniques were used and how it was distributed. This was probably one of the most difficult tasks as I found it difficult to find an image that I truly thought displayed social commentary. However I overcame this after some online research and chose to base my piece on 2wenty’s ‘Social Cigarettes’ (See post http://wp.me/p2KG4i-27 )
Propaganda Research- James Montgomery Flagg’s Uncle Sam Recruitment Poster
This piece of propaganda was created by James Montgomery Flagg in 1917 and was a poster to encourage recruitment in the United States Army during World War I. It showed Uncle Sam pointing at the viewer with the caption “I Want YOU for U.S. Army”. Over four million copies of the poster were printed during World War I and it has been named “the most famous poster in the world”.
Flagg’s poster was inspired by Alfred Leete’s 1914 British war poster, which featured the Secretary of State for War, Lord Kitchener, pointing his finger and declaring “Your Country Needs YOU.”
Preferring to work with a live model as inspiration, Flagg himself donned a hat and fake beard to serve as the model for Uncle Sam to save the hassle of hiring a model.
Uncle Sam is one of the most popular personifications of the United States. However it’s origin is still somewhat unknown. Some historians associate the name with a meat packer who supplied meat to the army during the War of 1812 and was seen to be a man of great fairness, reliability, and honesty, who was devoted to his country, qualities now associated with the typical idol of “Uncle Sam”.