This body of work focused on the road from Broadford to Elgol on the Isle of Skye uses metaphor through simplification, abstraction and reduction in nature to convey the essence of my experience of my subjects to others. My work is autobiographical and through spending time in the natural world I hope to lay the ghosts of my early photographic career, as a police photographer, to rest. I use photography as a window but also more predominantly as a mirror – reflecting the camera’s gaze back at me and my life experiences – I truly believe the camera looks both ways. Working primarily in black and white and focusing on shape, form and texture, avoiding the distraction of colour, I aim to be authentic in my work – this is my story and monochrome enables me to strip away the elements in order to reveal the real object or essence of my experience.
This is one of my final images. By choosing to make this image at night I was able to hide the surrounding landscape and distracting elements of the scene to focus only on the tree. By painting the trunk and canopy of the tree with a torch I was able to reveal the fluidity of its fine and delicate structure and in doing so reveal the essence of being a tree in this hostile environment – it is delicate and vulnerable, but also resilient and resistant – this is the essence of the tree that in turn represents my feelings of vulnerability and adversity in life.
This image, on the other hand, is less successful. I was trying to give the viewer a sense of the environment in which the tree is located and the sense of calm that can sometimes prevail, but rather than focus on the tree, the image gives a sense of the tourist postcard vernacular – a coloured and picturesque landscape of which the tree is only one element. This is an aesthetic I have been avoiding as both the colour and approach detracts from the key elements of my image making.
In this Work in Progress Portfolio (WIPP) I am experimenting with a range of reductive processes in search of the essence of my experience of the object – whether it be the tree as exemplified here or the Black Cuillin Ridge or the Reeds of Loch Cill Chriosd. Through light painting, moonlit images and experimenting with Sumi-E photography I am reducing the sensory effects in the image. While the tree is multi-dimensional, the reeds and the mountain ridge are more naturally reductive.
In Graham Harman’s terms, every object is both a real object (the noumena) and a sensory object (the object of my experience). The real object stimulates real effects and the sensory object provokes sensory effects. Simplification reduces the sensory effects to simplify my experience of the sensory object while reduction reduces the sensory effect such that the real object is exposed or revealed – so it is a deliberate attenuation of aspects of experience to bring the noumena into view.
Next week I shall continue to draft both my script for my Video Presentation and my Critical Review of Practice.