My photographic investigation aims to explore and illustrate the social significance of material objects whilst examining our interactions with vehicles. Exploring how objects affect and define us, my images embody the remains left behind interactions.
Initially, looking at a journal article by Thompson et al (2015). “The Ties That Bind: Measuring the strength of Consumers’ Emotional Attachments to Brands” draws on the basic psychological theories of attachment, citing Bowlby; a fundamental figure within attachment theories. Allowing me to establish background knowledge and a solid definition of attachments. This provided me with a starting point within my investigation, giving me the ability to prove/disprove evidence of attachments to cars.
A study published by ‘AutoTrader’, titled “Survey Reveals Relationships with cars Mimic Relationships with people” discussed findings into the establishment of bonds forged by road users and their vehicles. Examining how consumers ‘personify’ their vehicles, this provided me with a solid and reliable source that offers credibility. The content was exceptionally relevant to my project, justifying my investigation whilst also providing me with concepts and evidence that could offer insight into our relations with cars.
R. Volti, (2007) begins to answer this question. “For the love of Cars” investigates and analyses the anthropomorphism/personification of vehicles within the media whilst also regarding them as ‘enablers’ of modern lifestyle. This aided my investigation by providing me with another plausible explanation for our perceived attachments.
Volti, (2007) also regards vehicles as implements of ‘consumer culture’. My investigation into material attachments is highly specific to Western Cultures. Further research into Volti’s text will allow me to gain a wider understanding into why and how we forge such attachments. This text along with influence from artists such as Lee Friedlander, Daniel Stein and Rebecca Evans inspired my interest into capitalist systems of consumption present in the marketing of commercial car photography. Questioning whether these bonds are linked or influenced by the way vehicles are marketed as sensual signifiers of taste, class and wealth.
I would argue that commercial car photography and media draws on discourses of fetishism and objectification. “Compulsive Beauty” by Hal Foster (1995) stated that still life compositions are constructed to create meaning and reflection, declaring that material things act as “…ciphers or symbols for longer moral messages.” :_____
Foster (1995) also draws on ‘estrangement’, describing how “The way banal everyday things could suddenly seem strange, disturbingly unfamiliar or outlandish”. This provided me with further theoretical methodology, linking well with my photographic techniques such as shallow depth of field and extreme close-up that illustrate traces degradation and overuse. These images only display a limited section of the vehicle that exhibits damage, wear or dirt.
Due to the compositional structure and technique used, the true identity of the object is mostly obscured, cementing my investigation into why connection are established with our cars.
To develop my investigation further, I would delve deeper into texts mentioned above whilst also drawing on additional sources such as “Prosthetic Culture: Photography, Memory and Identity” by C, Lury (1997).
My images temporally illustrate degradation, thus embodying ‘entropic’ discourses. I plan to research texts such as “Digital Dirt and the Entropic Artifact: Exploring Damage in Visual Media” by Junian Kiker (2009), allowing me to gain a greater understanding of entropy and its uses within photography, justifying its presence within my project.
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Thompson, M. (2005) The Ties That Bind: Measuring the Strength of Consumers’ Emotional Attachments to Brands. Journal of Consumer Psychology [Online] Volume 15 (1) pp.71-91 [Accessed 29 October 2016]
Volti, R. (2007) For the love of Cars. The Journal of Transport History [Online] Volume 28 (2) pp.294-296 [Accessed 29 October 2016]
Wilkes, S. (2016) Fine Art. Available from: http://www.stephenwilkes.com/ [Accessed 29 October 2016]
Zhao, F. (2015) Parifictional Object. Available from: http://www.feifeizhao.com/parifictional-object [Accessed 12 October 2016]