A status report on the progress of my TechTransfer project that I discussed in my last post while considering an extensive body of photographic work I had created earlier in China.
First, I am becoming more comfortable with the working title TechTransfer, which still might morph to one of my earlier names that I was considering, such as Wo Zi Kankan (I am Just Looking) and for which I already have craved Chinese stamps (chops). My conceptual issue with the title Wo Zhi Kankan is that it places emphasis on what I am looking at as an implied documentary project. Nevertheless, I am still reflecting on what is this project about, aka the subject, as well as the potential audience, a work in progress. I just know it’s not a documentary project about an urban landscape faithfully represented. Those two items are coupled with a draft artist statement that I wrote. Since I already made the photographs and I do not see myself going back to China any time soon, so this is a retrospective project.
Case in point, I have a total of 4,000 color digital photographs to work with (okay, exactly 3,925) and over the past few days I created 108 black & white images with still a bunch more to convert. That part has been fun to see the what-if of a potential Black & White version of images that I have re-evaluated as a color version many times. My first evaluation is the black & white conversion of these images appears to better establish the darker mood that I am interested in. More about that while discussing the featured photo below.
Again, these photographs may initially appear documentary, but are not, mostly due to what I have been cloning out of the images to create the narrative. Pure documentary images do not have any elements cloned out, which in my case, I am eliminating other individuals out of the images with the exception of the one subject. I am removing these other folks out of the pictorial frame for three reasons: first to isolate and place further visual emphasize the one key person in the photograph and second, I am interested in the narrative of one lone person who appears isolated and alone in the context of this landscape. Third, the lone person could represent me as well as others could read-in that this might represent them as well and their collective experiences.
The concept of the lone individual being the everyman is central to the work of Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison and their 2000 photobook The Architects Brother. The ParkeHarrison’s constructed elaborate sets and combined with their own performance with Robert playing the principal roles in these poetic photographic narratives. He states “my photographs tell stories of loss, human struggle, and personal exploration within landscapes scarred by technology and over-use“, which resonates with me as well.
There is somewhat similar work by the Dutch photographer/painter Tuen Hocks who creates surrealistic self-portraits that are very engaging, using himself as a surrogate for the everyman. Thus by isolating one individual in my photographs, I too am thinking about the everyman in the world, and in a boarder sense beyond industrial technology transfers. About the impact of industry decisions to the great social order, but equally relevant is the impact of traveling extensively has on me. So since I am not that good at self-portraiture, I think photographing others who could represent me as well as others is a delightful and effective alternative.
As to the featured photograph above, I made this in JiaShan on a very snowy and cold morning and I hope that you can not tell where I removed (cloned out) the other individuals out. That the umbrella meant to protect this man from the blowing snow also concealed most of his face and identity was purposeful at the time, to allow him to be more representative of someone braving the cold elements. Although the day was already very overcast, I think that tipping the tonality scale a bit darker helps to create a darker mood and narrative. Not my natural tendency to create darker images, but much more relevant to this developing story. Last, using this version (one of five photographs I made), he is positioned further back within the landscape, thus appearing small and a lesser visual element. To me this photograph is about being alone in harsh and daunting urban environment.
Cheers, stay healthy and safe my friends,
Featured artwork above: JiaShan Transition (Flow of Light Brush the Shadow (Liu Guan Lue Yin)) copyright 2008 Douglas Stockdale
Los Angeles Center of Photography (LACP) Faculty Exhibition, in Los Angeles at the new LACP gallery, located at 566 Washington Blvd. The exhibition opened March 21st
and the closing reception is Saturday, April, 18, 2020, from 7-10pm. TBD
Update! Medium Photo 2020 Workshop: Developing a Creative Book workshop that I will be leading, is now rescheduled for September 24 – 27th, 2020, a four-day extended weekend workshop in San Diego.
Medium Photo 2020 Lecture Series, I will be giving a one-evening lecture Artist Books as Art Objects on
Friday, March 20th, from 7:30 – 9pm at the You Belong Here artist venue, located at 3619 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, California 92104. TBD