Showcase Portfolio: Shona Waldron

Shona waldron

Strangers (2019) The term ‘stranger’ conveys a sense of distance, anonymity and perhaps even a slight uneasiness. These images explore the way we construct internal barriers to shield ourselves from others, a physical separation which is epitomised by the blurred areas of the work. The notion that ‘photography only depicts the surface of things’ (Ruff cited in Rehberg 2017) encapsulates the way we might perceive a conversation from an outsider’s perspective, blind to the personalities of the subjects as well as the original context of the exchange. Although concealment is the primary intention, some images paradoxically reveal pieces of faces as each stranger was asked to hold and position the rips and scratches in any way they felt inspired to do so. This idea of enabling the subject to be an active participant in their own depiction reflects the way we constantly adjust which facets of ourselves we reveal to others.

  • Shona Waldron (2019) from Strangers

 

Light of the Mind (2018) turns to nature to externalise inner psychologies, creating a world where warped patterns and textures begin to emerge. This intends to replicate the landscape of an unsettled mind, capturing strange resonances which exist somewhere on the margin of our everyday reality. Through burning the negatives, the construction of each image is a two-fold process as, even though the original print is destroyed, it is reconfigured into something entirely new. This transformative effect relates to the power of the human subconscious to build a place home to both material and immaterial forms.

Organic Body (2019) Through the use of bold combinations of colour and shape,Organic Body conveys anthropomorphic presence within the natural world in an abstract, less defined way, blurring the definition of what we are able to identify as human. The physical manipulation and transformative quality of the work encapsulates the notion of life in an ‘alien everyday reality’ (Debord 1994: 153) as the subject matter becomes estranged from its original context. By creating something unfamiliar and alien-like, the images intend to evoke a futuristic vision – a contemporary renaissance in a sense – which questions what it means to live in a world on the constant brink of evolution.

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Save the World

The aesthetics of Apathy: advertising the Environment

‘An image is drained of its force by the way it is used, where and how often it is seen’ (Sontag, 2003, p.105)
Greenpeace Advert (2014)

This session encourages a comparative approach to advertising campaigns which promote environmental awareness and concern. Specifically, participants are encouraged to consider the potential for compassion fatigue in our image saturated world, the use of aesthetics / shock tactics in these adverts, as well as the importance / function of text within the adverts to spur us to take action (or not).

This Session could be run in conjunction with:

World Wildlife Fund Advert (2010)
‘Those who design these actively campaign to awaken public consciousness over misuse of the environment and shape their communications to create and reinforce that message’ (Gold & Revill, 2004, p.3)

Aims & Outcomes:

  • To investigate the aesthetics of environmental issues in advertising
  • To consider the impact of these at provoking our ‘concern’ and action
  • To reflect on the success / weakness of each of these practices considering the intent / visual approach of the adverts
  • To consider the role of text within the adverts to convey / support the message
  • Participant Outcome: 1 x A3 print advert
‘Environmentalists picture the environment as ‘suffering’ too. These are all compositions that invoke a kind of visual ‘pain’ in the viewer’ (Bate, 2009, p.119)
Greenpeace Advert (2011)

You will need:

  • Digital cameras for all participants (and appropriate memory cards) *This session can also be run using Camera phones or Lumix cameras
  • Card readers
  • Access to computers (or laptops) and imaging software
  • An Introductory Brief & Presentation (below) for participants to outline the ideas and provide examples
  • A booked room to critique participants work (either via a projector or via print)
  • Blue tack to pin the work
  • Costings and Risk Assessments
‘A photograph that brings news of some unexpected zone of misery cannot make a dent in public opinion unless there is an appropriate context of feeling and attitude’ (Sontag, 1977, p.17)
Greenpeace Advert (2012)

Presentation: The Aesthetics of Apathy

‘Shocking ads traditionally worked because the message became so deeply lodged in a person’s consciousness that they were eventually forced to act upon it. However, if the same message and same tactics are being used all the time, then it just becomes wallpaper to a person and makes it far easier to ignore’ (Gardner in Williams 2009)
Society for the Protection of Animals Advert (2015)

Preparation Work:

  • Ask participants to read Aimee Meade (2014) ‘Emotive Charity Advertising: Has the public had enough? in The Guardian (24th September 2014) available here
  • Ask participants to read Fiona Shields (2019) ‘Why We’re Rethinking the Images we Use for our Climate Journalism in The Guardian (18th October 2019) available here
  • Ask participants to read Matt Williams (2009) ‘Close Up: Does Shock Advertising Still Work?’ in Campaign (24th April 2009) available here
  • Ask participants to watch and evaluate ‘Rang Tan’ Iceland Advert (2018) available here
  • Ask participants if they have thier own digital cameras and cards
  • Make sure you have access to computers / image editing software
  • Make sure there are enough team members to support participants (never assume thier prior knowledge)
  • Decide whether you will project the work or print it.
  • If you are printing it make sure Reprographics are aware and be aware of timekeeping so they have space to print the work – or use A3 colour photocopiers.
  • *If you are running this session off campus, make sure there is access to printers or projectors
‘If an ad is too shocking, for example, you run the risk of people deliberately avoiding what you say – they look away, change channel, turn the page. Also, if you start adding unnecessary layers of drama, people see through it, they feel they’re being manipulated (Brazier in Williams, 2009)
Animal Advert (2010)

suggested Session Outline:

  • Ask participants what environmental they have concerns about globally / locally
  • Give the Presentations above. Invite participants to compare the adverts? What are the similarities and differences? Pay attention to aesthetics and use of text as message. Is is successful? Which adverts enourage you to ‘care’ more? Why?
  • Brainstorm environmental issues and select issues that participants care about. How has this been represented visually? which aesthetic approach works best?
  • individually / in groups make an advert (include text) which aims to inspire change and encourage people to ‘care’ about the chosen environmental issue.
  • Print / Project and critique the images with these aesthetics / use of text in mind and considering how we might overcome compassion fatigue.
 ‘To aestheticize tragedy is the fastest way to anaesthetize the feelings of those who are witnessing it. Beauty is a call to admiration, not to action’ (Sischy, 1991, p.92)
Greenpeace Advert (2012)

The Environment & Eye

This beautiful world?: The work of Sebastião Salgado and Nick Brandt

‘In these last decades ‘concerned’ photography has done at least as much to deaden our conscience as to arouse it’ (Sontag, 1977, p.21)
Sebastião Salgado (2009) from Genesis

This session takes a comparative approach to Sebastião Salgado’s Genesis and Nick Brandt’ s Inherit the Dust. Participants are encouraged to considet the intent of both of these practices, and evaluate thier success (or not) in encouraging us to care about our planet, as well as the use of aesthetics / shock tactics etc in their respective photographic approach.

 

‘Making suffering loom larger, by globalising it, may spur people to feel they ought to ‘care’ more. It also invites them to feel that the sufferings and misfortunes are too vast, too irrevocable, too epic to be much changed by any local political intervention’ (Sontag, 1977, p.3)
Nick Brandt (2015) from Inherit the Dust

This Session could be run in conjunction with:

International Fund for Animal Welfare (WWF) (2012)
‘Why can’t beauty be a call to action? Being politically correct does not signify much unless the work is both visually and conceptually compelling. To be compelling there must be tension in the work’ (Strauss, 2003, p.9-10)

Aims & Outcomes:

  • To investigate the aesthetics of representations of the environmental issues
  • To consider the impact of these at provoking our ‘concern’ and action
  • To reflect on the success / weakness of each of these practices considering the intent / visual approach of the work
  • Participant Outcome: 2 10×8 digital prints
Environmental Investigation Agency (2014)

 

The key to good ‘shocking’ advertising is to make sure that the public think the issue is important enough to validate the use of shock, and make sure the execution doesn’t go too far’ (Bath in Meade, 2014)

 

You will need:

  • Digital cameras for all participants (and appropriate memory cards) *This session can also be run using Camera phones or Lumix cameras
  • Card readers
  • Access to computers (or laptops)
  • An Introductory Brief & Presentation (below) for participants to outline the ideas and provide examples
  • A booked room to critique participants work (either via a projector or via print)
  • Blue tack to pin the work
  • Costings and Risk Assessments

Research: Sebastião Salgado (2009) Genesis

Sebastião Salgado (2009) from Genesis

 

I thought the only way to give us an incentive, to bring hope, is to show the pictures of the pristine planet, to see the innocence. And then we can understand what we must preserve’ (Salgado in Hattenstone, 2004)

‘It is a pictorial depiction of the lands and lives of a still pristine planet. I feel Genesis also speaks urgently to our own age by portraying the breathtaking beauty of a lost world that somehow survives.  It proclaims: this is what is in peril, this is what we must save’ (Salgado in Lebus, 2013)
‘Salgado is far too busy with the compositional aspects of his pictures, with finding the ‘grace’ and ‘beauty’ in the twisted forms of his anguished subjects. And this beautification of tragedy results in pictures that ultimately reinforce our passivity toward the experience they reveal’ (Sischy, 1991, p.92)

Research: nick brandt (2015) inherit the dust

Nick Brandt (2015) from Inherit the Dust

‘If we fail to act, future generations will be inheriting the sad remnants of a once-vibrant living planet. They will be inheriting dust’ (Brandt, 2016)

 

 

‘It’s not about their beauty. Yes, I might see the Christy Turlington version of a lion, but I will also shoot a blind old buffalo’ (Brandt in Kurcfeld, 2016)
‘An image is drained of its force by the way it is used, where and how often it is seen’ (Sontag, 2003, p.105)

Preparation Work:

  • Ask participants to read Ingrid Sischy (1991) ‘Good Intentions’ in The New Yorker (9th September, 1991) available here
  • Ask participants if they have thier own digital cameras and cards
  • Make sure you have access to computers / image editing software
  • Make sure there are enough team members to support participants (never assume thier prior knowledge)
  • Decide whether you will project the work or print it.
  • If you are printing it make sure the Photo Lab are aware and be aware of timekeeping so they have space to print the work.
  • *If you are running this session off campus, make sure there is access to printers or projectors
Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) (2007)

suggested Session Outline:

  • Ask participants what environmental they have concerns about globally / locally
  • Give the Presentations above. Invite participants to compare the Salgado’s and Brant’s work? What are the similarities and differences? Pay attention to aesthetics and the way that the practitoners discuss thier intention in the work. Is is successful? Which body of work enourages you to ‘care’ more?
  • Brainstorm environmental issues and select issues that participants care about. How has this been represented visually? which aesthetic approach works best?
  • individually / in groups make one beautiful image and one shocking image to inspire change and encourage people to ‘care’ about the issue.
  • Print / Project and critique the images with these aesthetics in mind and considering aesthetic choices in the constuction of the images.
Endangered Wildlife Trust (2010)