500-word proposal which clarifies the critical approach that you intend to explore. This should reference readings covered and questions posed through those readings and propose a research question which will be addressed through your image making.
Completed by week 4 and submitted in portfolio at hand-in deadline.
My series will examine interactions between individuals and commodities by exploring and challenging commercial infrastructures by capturing my subject as ‘imperfect’ and ‘scuffed’. Aiming to answer “How do we interact with the commodity form?”. Academic and personal research led me to investigate commodity fetishism. L, Gamman, (1994) discussed commodity fetishism by examining historical contexts, describing it as a phenomenon whereby inanimate objects are assigned mystic properties and ‘talismanic powers’, becoming an object of worship (Gammon, 1994: 16). Later stating that within “the West we live in a social context determined by consumerism and commodity production” (1994: 24). This theoretical framework guided and developed my interest around critiquing capitalist commodity fetishism.
My subject will be a vehicle due to its material ties within commodification and pervasive capitalist overtones. I will shoot on my Canon 750D with a macro-lens (18-55mm), allowing me to achieve immense detail, tonality and contrast through a shallow focus. These images will examine surface textures that embody ageing and degradation, exposing the traces and tensions that result from overuse and exposure. The shallow focus within my small focal plane will connote a sense of intimacy between subject and viewer. The vehicle will become a framing device and portal for investigative reflection. Initial interest in vehicles was grounded in childhood memories that surround discourses of freedom, liberation and escape. The social significance and attachments of vehicles will be illustrated through close-up shots, revealing precise detail that uncovers and conveys vast detail; reflecting the ‘natural’ and ‘grubby’ textures of the vehicle.
Shooting will be fortnightly, commencing from the 27th September – 27th November 2016. I aim to photograph during ‘the magic hour’ whereby sunlight is optimum, creating vibrant colour and vast tonal ranges.
Transportation photography is almost exclusive within commercial settings as we are encouraged to consume and indulge in the vehicle’s commodity form; this captivated my fascination. Vehicles are depicted as visually aesthetic, constructed by either bright, glossy oversaturation or dramatic, tonal black and white compositions. Images embody capitalist discourses of objectification and fetishism by showcasing sophisticated mechanisation and flawless designs, inviting both material and visual consumption. Frequently edited in a surrealist manner due to excessive amount of ‘perfection’ and ‘glossy’ aesthetics. Surrealist undertones within commercial car photographs are highly influential.
However, the ‘weathered’ areas of my subject will act to challenge existing representations and constructs of commercial car photography by fetishising the taboo, dirty and damaged areas of the vehicle; directly opposing traditional representations. I will also isolate my subject by focusing attention on small areas, which could obscure its actual identity; inviting further reflection. Hal Foster (1995) in ‘Compulsive Beauty’ broadly examined surrealist and still life photography. Drawing on ‘estrangement’, Foster (1995) describes the way mundane objects become obscured or foreign.
I aim to illustrate temporality by capturing the indents and markings that result from the tensions exerted from both environmental and human contact. Cindy Sherman inspired my juxtapositional approach to photography. Dirt and imperfections will be depicted and contrasted by visually enticing and seductive angles with shallow focus revealing precise details. Post-production will enable enhancements, images will appear stylised, colourful, radiant and immensely detailed. Adjustments to contrast, clarity and saturation invite visual consumption and critical reflection on the commodification of material objects. I am critiquing the relations we share with object whilst challenging dominant forms of commercial car photography.
Word Count – 553
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