With ‘The Last of The Material Men’ I sought to mine the totality of my experience with nihilism, and attempts to repress such. I looked to explore the latter’s role in a new light, and as ultimately the cause of my nihilism. Exploring my own relations with such a process as that of a clear and conscious attempt of self-delusion and escapism, as crude and incomplete, desperate and pitiful. As a dysfunction which ultimately leads me to feel deeply isolated and disconnected from those around myself, unable to throw myself at the going-ons, forever sitting at a distance. In my failings to subdue my consciousness of this process, I find myself incapable of escaping the grips of my nihilistic world view. A position that this project has further hopes of eluding to in eliciting a sense of the isolation, despair, ineffability, confusion, desperation, betrayal and deceit I have felt and find myself subject to. The exploration of this dysfunction through this project, itself a shining memorial of the very process I am noting, and a further struggle.
Following the positive and supportive response I received from my previous inquiry, which can be found linked below, I have followed up on the lead that I was provided – that of the senior administrator for my local reserve.
Posing that it was highly unlikely she would have been contacted internally regarding my inquiry, I felt it wasn’t necessary to re-write what I had previously sent. I have, however, updated the link to my website which has since been relocated at its official domain.
This past Monday, April 23rd, I attended my second counselling meeting with Estzer. Again, we largely discussed my self-doubt and anxiety surrounding such – causes, triggers, feelings, thoughts etc etc. Of course, due to the personal nature and sensitivity of the topics I spoke of, I will not be posting much detail here. But I did make some notes for this post throughout the duration of our session. The one thing that struck me most, was the she called me out and made me aware of how often I veer off and undermine anything I do when speaking of any successes or indeed, anything positive in relation to myself. My self-doubt manifests itself constantly, and I continually reinstate and reinforce by undermining my successes with a ‘but’, ‘but it was easy because I didn’t have to worry about instructing others… but I really suffered with anxiety and clouded thoughts and so didn’t produce work anything like what I know I can… but I was only shooting people I was comfortable with… but they knew exactly what they wanted and so I really didn’t have to do much of anything but take the picture… etc etc etc. She noted that I do this, without fail, every time I recite something that, as a whole, was a successful and positive endeavour. And that further, I will then take those ‘buts’ and heighten them to a level in which they completely overshadow and belittle anything else. I focus only on the negative aspects, even if the whole was overwhelmingly positive, and I will subsequently, deem the it to be a exclusively negative experience. Eszter noted that I need to practice on realising when I am veering off down this path, and stop it in its track. And this is something I have actively been trying to do since our meeting at the beginning of the week, and I can honestly say, I feel better for it already. I still have some ways to go before being positive as opposed to negative is my default mode, if you will, but I shall persist and whittle away at it. She then got me to speak about some of my past successes despite my self-doubt and then on to speaking about anxiety control techniques, such as self-awareness of one’s breathing, one’s weight on a chair or the noises around them. These are re-centring techniques that distract the brain away from feelings of anxiety and panic by focusing them elsewhere. The session lasted for 50 minutes total and we agreed that I would meet again in two weeks time.
Contact sheet – Lighting experimentation
I have found a few further lighting tests lurking in the depths of my cluttered hard-drive. These tests took place after the last set of tests I posted evidence of within my ‘Early light tests’ post. Again, my project was still completely up in the air, and I had nothing else to go on other than the fact that I wanted whatever the project became, to be cinematic. The above set of images was a direct response to two of Alex Currie’s images, of which I particularly liked the use of light within, and those images were as follows:
I’m especially fond of the first of Currie’s images I have posted above. For despite it omitting the viewer of much of any contextual substance, it packs a seductive narrative punch, and elicits a scene far grander than that it depicts, far larger than one would expect from such few visual elements. A strange amalgamation of subtlety and theatricality from which emerges a depth and tangibility that is alluring to the extent that one enters the space occupied by our subject and then so expands it.
I was fond of one of the images I took during this session, the lighting of which, I felt as akin to Currie’s self-portrait, elicited a narrative beyond what was visually accounted for within the otherwise very simple scene. Much akin to the second of the two images posted above, I sculpted the light into a small slither by bouncing it off a reflective service of similar form. The shot was as follows:
Light experimentation – edit
And though, as I have quite evidently made clear, I am fond of this sort of imagery, I at the same time felt rather unsatitated by their lack of grandeur. I had at this point also began moving away from ideas of such intimacy within my project, instead looking to disassociate to a degree how personal the project’s context was to myself. I still wanted the project to very much be a derivative of my own empirical experiences, but I also felt such intimacy lessened its wider appeal to too great of an extent. My project at the time was very didactic, and I wanted the images to delineate the process of transformation I eluded to within my initial proposals:
‘Performance is an act of self-abandonment, the dissolution of the ego, of ‘I’, of ‘self’. But it is rather imperfectly so, for we are never able to fully realise the character we seek to portray. Rather, we find ourselves in a moment of liminality, of transition. A moment in which we are neither ‘I’ or ‘them’, but instead a mixture of the two. And in such a state, of liminality, the ego becomes malleable and we stand at a threshold between ourselves, or ‘I’, and the very character we attempt to portray, ‘them’. And it is in this state of malleability we peer through the looking glass if you will, we awaken to a world of nonsense, of fantasy, and I speak not only of the one we’ve fantasised. In this way, we allow ourselves a transformation’.
But as the project became snagged on such ideals, and I was unable to distil how I would go about visualising such within a series of images, I moved away from it and so the process of disassociated begun. I simply felt that the project would, visually, almost certainly stink of self-pity, and that wasn’t what I wanted it to stink off, even if it maybe true. Rather, I wanted to speak to the wider human experience and so have a far wider appeal, whilst still exploring my own personal experiences.
I have entered three images into the above competition hosted by EyeEm. Winners will be featured on the walls of their new Tokyo office as well as featured within the next EyeEm magazine… which is what I am far more interested in, exposure wise. Evidence of my submissions follow.
Whilst visiting the Photographer’s gallery last week, I picked up a handout containing a list of past and upcoming events within the space. Of most note and interest to me is that of ‘Viewpoints’ taking place May 26th which sees,
‘BA Photography students from the University of East London present short talks on selected works from our exhibitions’.
Not only is this promising in that they’re accommodating BA Students, of which I am of course still one, but it is further promising in that it would be an excellent opportunity for networking with others at the same stage of their careers as me, with the hopes that it could lead to collaborative efforts. I will be asking others on the course whether they’d be interested in attending with me, but if not, I am more than happy to push myself outside of my comfort zone and start attending these events alone.
Unfortunately I am currently without the use of my laptop, through which I probably could have created a proper PDF of my website. In trying to do so with this here iPad, for whatever reason, some of the images are turned black when the PDF of the page is created. I have tried to rectify this to no avail. So, hopefully the PDF I will be handing in via memory stick, will not be needed. Find the actual site, here:
Update: I have also tried using an ancient laptop of mine, just to see if I can create a PDF that is displaying as it should, and unfortunately, I have run into the exact same problem. Here is an example of a blank page, when in fact there are images: