Friday, 8 May 2009

Blog 14 - Reality Pt3

Jeff Wall and Gregory Crewdson are both photographers that use larger sets and obscure themes to create their images of a sort of hyper real reality. We don’t see their photography as being documentary in any way. Both Wall and Crewdson create these elaborate sets and photographs by drawing on their past experiences, Wall’s Invisible Man was based upon a book he’s read by Ralph Ellison called Invisible Man. Plate 7 of Crewdson’s Twilight Series shows a man on his knees cutting holes out of the living room floor, this was apparently a memory from Crewdson’s childhood, pressing his ear to the floor trying to hear his father’s conversations. Although these examples are not documentary photography they do still contain an air of reality it is just a recreated version of something that has already happened, rather than in the moment.
In conclusion I believe that both documentary and staged art photography all contain elements of reality. The works of Robert Capa and Eddie Adams were produced “in the moment”, what you see is supposedly “what you get” you don’t question it. On the other side, Crewdson and Wall create a staged reality of past experiences forcing the viewer to think more about what they see. Mathew Brady and Alexander Gardner were documentary photographers who played with reality, moving bodies and evidence to suit their needs. However, with all these types of photography it’s up to the viewer to research and create their own conclusions about what is in front of them. After finding out the stories behind these photographs I can see that all photography should be questioned and researched; the viewer should not take what they are told to be a definitive of what they’re looking at. The manipulation that has taken place in documentary photography has led me to see that a staged form of reality is not any less valid than a photograph that is “documenting” something; it just needs more thought and understanding.

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