elenahpowell

A slightly strange realisation

In Edinburgh, Rambling on June 18, 2012 at 6:03 pm

I was looking at the website for this years ECA degree show (there are NINE final year photography students!), obviously it’s quite hard to get an accurate representation of what the work is like with just a little paragraph and a single image. But the work that was there…it wasn’t really me. Maybe it was just that year group, maybe I’m just really really different from everyone else, but there was nothing that I wasn’t expecting. Maybe my expectations were just WAY too high (normally I expect nothing and I’m pleasantly surprised), but there wasn’t anything really there that I desperately wanted to know more about… I like things that surprise me, I like the things that no one really thinks of doing. I want to be curious and intrigued and impressed. There was nothing bad about the work, but it was just very…photography.

And maybe that’s not how I work anymore. Anyway, I was looking at each department (Painting has the most students, if you’re interested) and the Intermedia work was definitely the most unusual and appealing to me. I’ve thought for a while that I’d definitely enjoy that section of my first year (if I understand right my first year is split equally between photography, painting, sculpture and intermedia), but maybe…just maybe, I’ll end up switching to that. I can’t say for definite – because I haven’t even started yet!

Maybe I’m just too used to having so much freedom, I’ve kind of done as I pleased for the past two years and as much as I loved that it’s going to make doing something in a slightly more structured way quite odd. Although I guess I did structure my projects fairly well…but I’ve chosen what I was doing for them all.

Hm. That was incredibly annoying – I lost half of my nice long rambling because it failed to save the correct version of my draft. Ah well.

Back to the point (again I’m sure), the term ‘photography’ – even ‘photographer’ – feels very restrictive to me, but I guess it does describe what I do. I primarily use photographic processes, maybe they aren’t modern, maybe they’re completely outdated and pretty archaic, but they’re light based and light sensitive and all that good stuff. But that only describes the majority of what I do – what about the collecting? Photography is certainly a method of collection, but collecting isn’t photography. What do you call collecting overheard conversation? Or collecting pieces of string from beaches? Apart from maybe quite OCD-ish…

Calling myself a photographer seems strange now, because it’s the bit that isn’t photography that makes my work my work – or that’s what it feels like anyway. And to call myself a photographer would be to deny that somehow. I like that little bit though, and I need that little bit. And maybe a photography degree isn’t so good for that little bit, and perhaps it’s that little bit that isn’t photography that makes my work what it is. And if I lose that, and focus just on the photography bit, it’ll all go tits up. Or something like that. So – assuming I like the Intermedia module more than the Photography module and any attempts to negotiate a slightly wayward method of Photography for three years aren’t successful – I think I might probably switch to Intermedia.

Which is really odd. I’ve always wanted to do a photography degree. Okay, slight exaggeration. Not always – for several years though. But I’d imagine it’ll still primarily be photography, because that’s what I love doing after all. I just don’t want to exclude all the extra fun stuff like writing books and doing installation things and print making and drawing and so on. So really I’m just incredibly indecisive.

As to what I am, what I should call myself, photographer doesn’t really work anymore. But I can’t use artist (I just…can’t, it feels odd calling myself an artist – it’s something you call someone else I think…maybe?), but I guess I’m creating art… I’m increasingly fond of alchemist though – collecting crap and turning it into something worthwhile. I like that. So maybe I’m an alchemist.

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  1. Perhaps you are a rejectamenta-ist?

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