Acting the Part

Out of Character / Into Character: Photographic Chameleons

‘the mask offers a powerful disguise that gives photographers the chance ot redefine themselves, and to challenge the ways in which identities have commonly been represented and understood’ (bright, 2010, p.101)
Claude Cahun (1928) Self-Portrait

This session encourages participants to consider the nature of the performed portrait, and the construction of the self into a ‘disguised’ personae. This use of masquerade transforms the photograph into a stage. Lighting, props, costume, styling and location are also important considerations,

 

It is a theatrical reminder that identity is a construct, a mask we wear. ‘Under this mask, another mask’ Cahun wrote. We could even think of her work as a comment on race, as she frequently inverts colours and plays with contrast in one photograph. With her head shaved, holding her collar as if to hide from our gaze, seemingly tanned or edited to seem so, with her image duplicated by the mirror next to her – reinforcing the duality or multiplicity of identity, and the roles we play. (Emelife, 2016)

This Session could be run in conjunction with:

Hippolyte Bayard (1840_ Self-Portrait as a Drowned Man
‘A photographic portrait is a picture of someone who knows they’re being photographed, and what he does with this knowledge is as much a part of the photograph as what he’s wearing or how he looks’ (Avedon in Fuqua & Bivar, 2010, p.149)

Aims & Outcomes:

  • For participants to explore the nature of a performed’ and disguised self. Is is all a mask?
  • For participants to respond photographically to identified personal / political issues though the act of masqerade
  • For participants to consider the different ways in which the self might be represented. Do we have multiple selves? Are we stereotyped?
  • Participant Outcome: 1 10 x 8 digital print
Man Ray (1920) Rrose Selavy (Marcel Duchamp)
‘i pose, i know i am posing, i want you to know i am posing, but…this additional message must in no way alter the precious essence of my individuality’ (Barthes, 1981, p.12)

You will need:

  • Participants may identify and define thier own ‘characters’ / disguises /scenarios or you could use a list of Vladimir Propps characters as a prompt:The Hero / The Helper / The Villain / The False Hero / The Donor / The Dispatcher / The Princess / The Princess’s Father
  • Any props you might 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)
  • Flashguns (or a Studio) to practice lighting techniques
  • 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
Shigeyuki Kihara (2013) from Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?
‘Portraits are representations, not documents’ (West, 1997, p. 53)

Preparation Work:

  • Ask Participants to read Sean O’ Hagan (2010) ‘Self Portraits as an Art Form’ in The Observer 8th August 2010 available here
  • Ask participants to explore the Tate resources and select one feature of thier choice to read available here
  • Ask participants to independently research the work of Cindy Sherman and watch Hal Foster (2016) Under the Gaze: The Art of Cindy Sherman available here
  • Ask participants to identify bring a selection of props they might need
  • Ask participants if they have thier own digital cameras and cards
  • Make sure you have access to computers
  • 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.
  • Decide whether you will introduce location / studio lighting
  • 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
Aneta Grzeszykowska (2006) from Untitled Film Stills

Research: The work of Cindy Sherman

‘The desire to ‘become someone else in front of the camera, if only for a moment, is often irresistable. masqerade in self-portraiture may allow an artist to vicariously act out fantasies or address a political issue through someone else’s voice, which is both liberating and transgressive. Such tactics can also be used for fun or to indulge personal vanity’ (bright, 2010, p.101

Presentation ideas: Acting the Part

suggested Session Outline:

Tell Me A Story (Again)

Knowing Narratives: Into a Sea of Stories

Intertextuality: The accumulation and generation of meaning across texts, where all meanings depend on other meanings. The self conscious citation of one text within another as an expression of enlarged cultural self consciousness’ (Barker, 2008, p.482)
Paula Rego (1989) Baa Baa Black Sheep

 

In this session, participants will explore themes of intertextuality and originality in thier images by constructing images in direct response to another (visual / written) ‘text’. They will consider the levels of ambiguity (or not) of such images and thay are encouraged to undertake in-depth independent research into Tom Hunter’s practice and its positioning within wider ideas regarding the nature of photographic representation and narrative within the constructed image.

‘Practitioners of staged photography invent their motifs, freely combining the real and the invented, photography and painting, photography and stage design, weaving historical and mythological references into their works, and do not hestiate for a moment to manipulate reality’ (Kohler, 1995, p.8)
Oscar Rejlander (1857) The Two Ways of Life

This Session could be run in conjunction with:

Anna Gaskell (1998) Hide
‘A text is… a multidimensional space in which a variety of writings, none of them original, blend and clash. The text is a tissue of quotations’ (Barthes 1977, p.146)

Aims & Outcomes:

  • For participants to visually explore the loading of narrative into the single image
  • For participants to understand the difference between literal and ambigous imagery (and thier consequences)
  • For participants to respond photographically to recast / recreate another ‘text’
  • For participants to investigate the relationship between ‘texts’ and consider the notion of originality
  • Participant Take Away Outcome: 1 exhibition quality 10 x 8 print
‘Movies can shape a layer of memory, leading us into a shared past, sometimes false, dreamlike childlike, but a past we’ve all agreed to inhabit’ (Don De Lillo in Lewis, 2014)

You will need:

  • A selection of paintings, fairy stories, photographs, films, nursery rhymes, music video’s etc (a mix of visual and written ‘texts’)
  • 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)
  • Flashguns (or a Studio) to practice lighting techniques
  • 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: the work of tom Hunter

Preparation Work:

  • Ask participants to read Helen Simpson (2007) ‘Femme fatale: Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber’ in The Guardian, 24th June 2006 available here
  • Ask participants to read / watch interview with Richard Tuschman on Hopper Meditations available via Lens Culture (2013) 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
Martina Sauter (2011) Treppenhaus

Presentation Ideas: into a sea of stories

Suggested Session Outline:

  • Show participants the trailer for Shrek the Third (2007) (above). Ask them to count and write down every intertextual reference they can see in the clip. Does it matter if we don’t recognise all of them? How does it recast its reference points into a new narrative?
  • Give the Presentation (above). Invite participants to compare the intertextual work with its ‘original’ text. What are the similarities and differences? Is it a straight ‘copy’ or something new and original? How does the new work change or play with this ot create new meanings and narratives? Is it merely a literal / descriptive ‘copy / illustration’ or a more ambiguous image. Do we need to recognise the original source ‘text’?
  • Provide participants with a list of visual / written ‘texts’ (or they can think of thier own). Identify the key elements of the ‘text’: narrative, people, objects, places and motifs etc.
  • Identify how these might be translated in new ways (e.g. a ‘cauldron’ could become a microwave / a ‘princess in distress’ might be female / a ‘forest’ might be a playground / park or garden. How might the ‘text’ be translated in more ambigous ways? (e.g. the absence of people / the ‘feeling’ of the original text / a modern update)
  • Sketch out / brainstorm initial ideas (thinking of props, locations, characters etc)
  • Location lighting or studio induction. How does light colour / black and white / aesthetics influence the scene?
  • Shoot the image individually / in groups
  • Print / Project and critique the images with the original ‘text’ in mind /  on view and considering aspects of originality / description v’s ambiguiy / the construction narrative within the single image / audience respsonse
Thomas Demand (1999) Tunnel (video)

 

Me, Myself and Eye

Looking at the ‘Selfie’

‘Once I feel myself observed by the lens, everything changes; I constitute myself in the process of ‘posing’, I instantaneously make another body for myself, I transform myself in advance into an image’ (Barthes, 1980, p.10)
Chompoo Baritone (2015) from Instagram

 

This is an adaptable session which encourages participants to consider the ways in which we represent and project ourselves as well as constructed nature of the performed portrait. It encourages participants to also make relationships with a history of painting, and the nature of social media in our ‘image world’ today.

 

This Session could be run in conjunction with:

Adapted from: PhotoPedagogy / ‘The Selfie’ which can be accessed here
Nikki S. Lee (2001) from Projects

Aims & Outcomes:

  • For participants to explore the nature of a ‘performed’ self. Is is all a mask?
  • For participants to consider the different ways in which the self might be represented. Do we have multiple selves?
  • For participants to consider the ‘intent’ of thier work. What aspect of the self are they trying to portray?
  • Participant Outcome: 3 (edited) 6×4 digital prints
Jen Davis (2014) from 11 Years

‘In my photographs I aim to raise questions regarding beauty, desire, body image, and identity through a focused observation of my personal story. I have built a relationship between the camera and myself where I transform the act of taking a photograph into a performance for the camera.  My work is partially based on personal experiences that I have re- constructed into a photograph, and the other part consists of made up fantasies of what I imagine a physical relationship to be regarding intimacy, love and desire’ (Davis in Smithson, 2014)

  • Digital cameras for all participants (and appropriate memory cards) *This session can also be run using Pinhole cameras, 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 printed ‘Selfie‘ list
  • A booked room to critique participants work (either via a projector or via print)
  • Blue tack to pin the work
  • Costings and Risk Assessments

Presentation ideas: Different selves

Create ‘Selves’ Which Are: Neutral / Performed / Disguised / Distorted / Reflected / Multiple / Hidden / Shadow / Partial / Constructed / Environmental

‘we have front-stage and backstage personalities, that we perform all the time, when we walk down the street, when we go into a shop. And when we are behind closed doors we go into a bit of a slump’ (Goffman, 1959)

Preparation Work:

    • Ask participants to read Interview with Daniel Herrmann on Gillian Wearing (2012) from 200% Magazine available here
    • Ask participants to independently research the From Selfie to Self Expression Exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery (2017) and watch the video available here
    • Ask participants if they have thier own digital cameras and cards
    • Make sure you have access to computers
    • 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 (6×4) 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

 

Suggested Session Outline: