Figures in Distress

Figures in distress is a series of analogue manipulations. The alteration of the negative with thread and needle has two possible outcomes: firstly it draws attention to the negative as a physical object and not just a storage of picture data, secondly it combines the effects of the photogram and analog photography in one composition. The film negative is the ‚heart and soul‘ of the analogue, yet it is invisible in the endproduct of many pictures. By experimenting with it as a means of artistic creation, the negative itself turns out to be an interesting dimension of the analogue.

When film is exposed to heat, it starts shrinkling which brings the emulsion to crack and wrinkel with it. Different films react differently to heat and have their own charactaristics in this manner. This adds to the known ISO/ASA light sensitivity, the grain, the format and the color/BW emulsion, another new dimension of film attribute, that can deliberately be used to create new images. The pictures of this series are a mixture of traditional photography (picturing images) and the manipulation of the film post development by cutting, scratching, sewing and heat, thus adding new image information to the picture. Described like this, the process is a Generation, a method and a term elaborately developed by Gottfried Jäger. [Jäger, Gottfried in „Abstrakte, konkrete und generative Fotografie“, Bernd Stiegler (ed.), 2016, page 83]

The creation of surreal pictures with analog techniques, shows the potential of film photography but also questions the overused trope of authenticity and realness of analogue photography. It reminds us, that photography has always been the process of creating and editing pictures, from pictorial photography to propaganda retouching. History shows many different techniques and purposes.Equipped with techniques of manipulation, the photographer is able to show a different kind of reality, in the classical sense of surrealism, a reality beyond the usual.

This series is an examination of the idea of wholeness of the human self and body. Is my body a collection of many pieces: limps, organs and skin? Or is my body one whole thing? The ontology of the personal body feeling is a reflection of our lives and the society we live in.  The perception of the body as a dummy controlled by the mind and the feeling of detatchment or even rejection of the body by the mind is a common premise. The descartian dualism has become a life reality to many young adults. These pictures show bodies displayed like dolls with missing parts or like damaged wax models. In this directness the series shows how torn and fragmented many young adults feel – a visualization of figures in distress.

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