In the context of writing a book about Object-Oriented Photography, I have been reflecting on the key elements of my photographic practice.  What are the words that best describe my photography, and how does my work differ from what might be termed Subject-Oriented Photography.  In seeking to answer these questions, I refer back to four visual heuristics in my thesis – the Recursive Loop – A Practice-Led Research Model, the Ten-Signifier Onion Diagram, the Dimensions of my Practice and Object versus Subject-Oriented Photography that in combination inform my reflections as follows:

The Recursive Loop – A Practice-Led Research Model – Alison Price, 2021

 

The Ten-Signifier Onion Diagram – Alison Price, 2021

 

Dimensions of Practice – Alison Price, 2022

Object versus Subject-Oriented Photography – Alison Price, 2023

The Recursive Loop provides the context for the combination and consideration of my practice and theoretical insights derived from my experience in the field, and focuses on the recursive nature of my work through continuous reflection.  The Onion Diagram is the result of a deep exploration of my practice, seeking to uncover the drivers that possibilise the realisation of Being in pursuit of essence or “allure”, while The Dimensions of my Practice heuristic aims to explore the breadth of my practice and its constituent parts.

In Chapter 4 of my thesis, I attempt to bring my thinking and practice-led research together with a visual heuristic that compares and contrasts Object versus Subject-Oriented Photography.  As a tool, creating visual heuristics in itself is part of my research and reflective process.  Not surprisingly, I like to see how my thinking is developing and clarifying similarities and differences in diagrammatic form, as well as setting one idea or approach against another helps solidify my ideas.  In this respect, I am similar to Graham Harman who uses his Fourfold Model or Quadruple Object as a means of setting apart the Sensory Object and sensory world of presence from the Real Object and the world of the noumena.

Returning to the objective of this post, I begin by thinking about words, many derived from the heuristics above, that best describe my practice:

Non-conscious awareness – my practice is focused on drifting into a zonal flow, and losing sight of intentionality as far as it is possible.  It is about drawing upon the non-conscious part of the brain, that 95% or more of our brain’s activity.

Intuitive – I engage in repetitive and deep practice such that my camera skill becomes intuitive.  My self is extended to include the camera as I adjust its settings without the need for conscious recall of skills.  When a state of zonal flow is reached, I am able to press the shutter intuitively too.

Reflective and recursive – I engage in a continuous and iterative process of reflection in my photographic practice and academic studies.  I use my Critical Research Journal (CRJ) presented through this blog to record every photographic shoot with words and images.  During each project, I write a Critical Review of Practice on a weekly basis to develop themes and ideas that have emerged.

“Quiet” – the idea of a quiet photographer was initially applied to Stephen Shore and subsequently developed by Gerry Badger.  It refers to practice that is modest, considered, and meticulous.

Deep and repetitive

Ryan (2019) refers to the idea of “deep practice” in photography as a means to acquire skill, and Newport refers to “deep work” in relation to academic studies.  I use both of these ideas as guiding concepts in my practice.

Focus on the “real”

While the practice undertaken during my MA focused on the phenomenological world of sensory perception, my PhD has focused on the real world and catching a glimpse of the noumena.  At the end of my MA, in my Critical Review of Practice, I said the following:

“. . . this phenomenological approach – whilst challenging – became an uncomfortable philosophical constraint.  Like well-worn shoes, it appeared to fit, except there was grit in the sole.  That grit was the reality of Skye that transcends personal experience and insists on being noticed.”  (Price, 2019 p4).

Multi-disciplinary

My practice is informed by a large number of artists – writers, painters and photographers, as well as the disciplines of psychology, philosophy biology and physics.  My PhD has led me to references as diverse as Merlin Sheldrake, Suzanne Simard, Nan Shepherd, Claude Monet, Patricia Townsend, David Bohm as well as Harman, Heidegger, Derrida and Ortega.  It has also identified for me a number of new avenues to take my research post-PhD.

While there are many other terms in the four visual heuristics, I think that the words above are key to my practice-led research to date and serve as shorthand for explaining my practice.

 

References

Badger, G. (2002).  “Stephen Shore, In Praise of a “Quiet” Photographer.” from https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/read/8387236/in-praise-of-a-quiet-photographer-gerry-badger-stephen-shore

Bohm, D. (1983). Wholeness and the Implicate Order. London, Arc.

Harman, G.  (2011).  The Quadruple Object. Alresford, UK, Zero Books.

Harman, G. (2018).  Object-Oriented Ontology – A New Theory of Everything.  Milton Keynes, Pelican Books.

Hayles, N. K. (2017).  Unthought:  The Power of the Cognitive Nonconscious.  Chicago, The University of Chicago Press.

Price, A. B. J. (2019).  The Ephemeral Hiddenness of Skye: Critical REview of Practice, Falmouth University.

Ryan, R.J. (2019).  Intuition, Expertise and Judgement in the Assessment of Photographic Images.  School of Business and the School of Art.  Cheltenham, University of Gloucestershire.  PhD: 492.

Sheldrake, M. (2020). Entangled Life How Fungi make our Worlds, Change our Minds, and Shape our Future.  London, Random House.

Shepherd, N. (1977).  The Living Mountain.  Edinburgh, Canongate Books.

Simard, S. (2021).  Finding the Mother Tree, Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest.  New York, Knof, Borzoi Books.

Townsend, P. (2019).  Creative States of Mind – Psychoanalysis and the Artist’s Process.  Abingdon, Oxon, Routledge.

 

 

Alison Price

Alison Price

My name is Alison Price and for the past ten years I have travelled the world photographing wildlife, including Alaska, Antarctica, Borneo, Botswana, the Canadian Arctic, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
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