I&P Exercise 3.4
The picture serves as a trap for our gaze.Durden, M. & Grant, K. Double Take: Portraits from The Keith Medley Archive (2013) Liverpool: LJMU Archives. Pg 15.
This exercise gives you the opportunity to explore the image as a window with which to trigger memory.
● The objective here is to produce a series of five portraits that use some of the types of gaze defined above.
The specifics of how you achieve this are down to you; you choose which types of gaze you wish to address and who your subject might be in relation to this decision. What you’re trying to achieve through these portraits is a sense of implied narrative, which you can explain through a short supporting statement. Don’t try and be too literal here; the viewer must be able to interact with the portraits and begin to make their own connection to the work, aided by the type of gaze you’ve employed.
● Write down any thoughts or reflections you might have regarding this exercise and include this in your learning log or blog.I&P p.85
[9Jan21] We are still in deep lockdown (Tier 4, London) and so the options are severely limited.
I have two initial ideas:
1. enact as many as I can of these with my partner;
2. trawl my archive for examples.
#2 was triggered by a neat example that sprang to mind from C&N of the bystander’s gaze, fig. A1.
There is no prospect of lockdown easing, so the subject matter for new creations would be restricted to me and Mrs. B. So I am going to run this exercise on my archive.
The operative list of descriptive, rather than pejorative gazes is, taken from Part 3 page 2,
spectator’s gaze – the viewer looking at a subject image
internal gaze – one subject looking at another
direct address – the subject looking at the lens
the look of the camera – the photographer through the camera
the bystander’s gaze – the viewer of the image being viewed themselves (I think)
the averted gaze – the subject not looking at the lens
the audience gaze – the image contains both a subject and a crowd looking at that subject
the editorial gaze I’ll quote directly, ‘the whole ‘institutional’ process by which a proportion of the photographer’s gaze is chosen and emphasised’ – I’m not sure what that means
The viewer looking at a subject image
I described this above as a depiction of the bystander’s gaze, but this is also falls into the spectator’s gaze— it all depends on whether you consider the ‘subject’ of the photograph to be the Chandos portrait or the person looking at and photographing it.
One subject looking at another
From I&P Exercise 1.3.
The subject looking at the lens
There’s a choice to be made here from C&N Asg. 3, Self Portraits (fig. D1). The most direct Direct Address is the Kubrick homage (fig. E1).
The bystander’s gaze
The viewer of the image being viewed themselves (I think)
See fig. B1 above and the spectator’s gaze
The look of the camera
The photographer through the camera
The problem here is, though the concept might be useful, every photograph I take manifests this. The solution, rather elegant, I think, is to deploy the almost ubiquitous fig. B1 once again.
The averted gaze
The subject not looking at the lens
From EyV Exc.3, a protester outside Parliament during the prolonged Brexit demonstrations.
The audience gaze
The image contains both a subject and a crowd looking at that subject
A previously unpublished image.
The editorial gaze
I’ll quote directly, ‘the whole ‘institutional’ process by which a proportion of the photographer’s gaze is chosen and emphasised’ – I’m not sure what that means
Again, this is not a gaze that can be specifically illustrated. When a photograph is published in a context, especially where there are numerous decision-making entities involved, then the editorial gaze can be said to be in play.. I have no examples to hand, perhaps my closest recent approach is my publication of a booklet of my work on C&N, although I was responsible for all stages, apart from the influence of the OCA in initiating the project and setting the assignments and exercises and the overall judging milieu.
The two uses of the gaze concept were discussed at length in Part 3 and, in all likelihood, will be the subject of a chapter in the Book of the Course. It has become a vehicle for pejorative criticism, mainly of photographers (but also of viewers and publishers) for deploying the “male gaze” or the “colonial gaze” or the “tourist gaze” amongst other gazes that suggest some form of dominant stance. But the way it is applied in this exercise is as a more mundane, objective descriptor of where various eyes are directed, in or at images or the subjects of images. When applied to an individual photograph, it is useful as a shorthand to convey an idea of an image’s contents but is more useful for analysing a group of works and, perhaps categorising a photographer’s oeuvre or a group display.
I&P Exc 3.4 References
Boothroyd, S. and Roberts, K. (2019) Identity and place. Barnsley: Open College of the Arts. [I&P]