Critical Reflection

The research for this project began in mid February 2013 after I completed my symposium project titled, Power Dynamics in Relation to the Erotic Works of Helmut Newton and Igor Amelkovich.

Having completed my symposium I wanted to expand the project further, exploring power dynamics within imagery and where erotic frames stood within todays society. However I began to flow down a completely different path with my research, I went from being lost within my own assumptions of societies opinions towards graphic media and erotica, right through to immersing myself into this incredibly daunting and graphically harsh environment. It was at this point that I realized I was tricking myself into believing that this project was about comparing and contrasting erotic photography against pornography, this was not so.

When engaging in conversations with fellow students and tutors, I was struck by the stark realization that I could not clearly explain my project. The only aspect of the project that I kept being drawn back to was an interest in the differences between implicitly and explicitly sexual material. Still I was drawn through to a deeper, darker conceptual space from which I couldn’t find a way back.

At this low period whilst still “making” I decided to explore these concepts from an investigative point of view, to reify the tension between what I now saw as two paradigms.

I began to scrape[1] graphic frames and used them to construct a large and by definition “formulaic” montage. This dense montage of frames are from a distance an attractive pattern but as Marcus Harveys work, on closer inspection there challenging nature confronts the viewer, setting up a tension between the accompanying set of images. These artifacts use a different vernacular. It is the beautified language of the large format full-frame toned fine print that captivates viewers, drawing them in, using beauty as a tool[2], seducing them, and leading them deeper into this conceptual paradox.

Upon looking back over the forked paths that I have ventured through, it is evident that the act of creating the artifacts through layering meaning upon them has enabled me to understand the importance and the power of the ‘artifact’ in it’s ‘self. Revisiting the beginning stages of this project facilitated the understanding of the evident research loop that flowed throughout the project, a research loop that culminates with artifacts that hold a powerful presence not only within the project that they are situated within but the viewers that are witnessing them.

To conclude, the juxtaposition between the montage of frames and the accompanying artifacts allowed me to manufacture a conceptual, metaphorical space for the viewers to explore and it is within this exploration that the viewers interact with the work.

The definitive set of artifacts delve into the wonderful world of the abstract nude. They have further, ‘reified’ rather than resolved the ever-conceptual contradictions within this project.


[1] Scraping is getting a computer to capture information from online sources.

[2] Simon Norfolk – ‘Beauty is a useful tool’

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Filed under 352MC -Professional Photographic Practice, 3rd Year

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