Utopia is an imagined state where everything is perfect, with the stress on imagined. However, as soon as imagination becomes reality, it loses its ethereal qualities and naturally develops both positive and negative aspects. I set out to shoot a whimsical little world where inanimate objects could move around by themselves, as if they were sentient beings. I thought it would be incredibly useful if objects moved around, were helpful and did what they were supposed to do on their own. While I was in the process of shooting however, I couldn't stop thinking about just how annoying and aggravating this situation could be as well. If objects did what they were supposed to do, then how would they know they were overstepping some sort of boundaries?
This project is a juxtaposition of two themes: the exploration of how a person creates a persona through the clothing that they wear versus an attempt to take away and neutralize that sense of individuality, with both themes within the context of a camera/subject relationship.
For the full body portraits, I prompted my subjects to show up to the photo shoot wearing an outfit that made them feel good - a pick-me-up outfit or at least something that they felt comfortable in. This was the control variable. If everyone showed up in their favorite outfit, their confidence should have been high. They wouldn't have to worry about looking goo; they already looked good to themselves. The full-body portraits were shot in color with a digital SLR because I felt color was necessary to fully capture each person's sense of style through their attire.
With that in place, each individual shoot became a little five-minute game. I would always prompt the person to relax for a minute and then ask them to start posing however they wanted. some people jumped immediately into different poses, while others suddenly became less relaxed and needed additional prompting. For the latter group I suggested poses that seemed both fun and comfortable, tailoring my suggestions to match how I perceived each person. Each pose if therefore diluted by my influence, but I think that they still get across each person's individuality.
The black and white portraits were my attempt to neutralize the persona created in the color photos by standardizing each person's representation. I made each person wear a grey sweater I had bought, and shot the pictures as passport style portraits. I recently read that human beings use the majority of their brainpower in order to process visual information, and so I made each subject close their eyes, limiting their ability to represent themselves through the camera.
In the early 20th century Coburn was a leading figure in the Pictorialism movement, photographers seeking to emulate the Impressionist movement in painting.
I became interested in Coburn's work through a series of architectural prints he made in London in the early 20th century. Using a soft-focus lens, his prints romanticize the industrial city: the architecture along the Thames masked by a grayish haze with spatial edges and planes dissipating into the ethereal London Fog.
These prints are an attempt to achieve a similar effect utilizing the process of creating paper negatives. I peeled the plastic top layers off of my original RC prints and then used them to create paper negatives. These were then exposed to produce the final fiber prints. At this point, the repeated process of exposing paper on paper had blurred the details of the original photographs.