Sunday, 5 June 2011

Producing a PDF Portfolio

A large task for the current PPP module has been to produce a succinct PDF Portfolio explaining our work, which can be downloaded from our website, and printed out for distribution to relevant parties.

I started by contemplating the recipients of the PDF. I don't have a specific target audience, as I am still forming my career aspirations, so it seemed sensible to produce a document which sums up my course, describes the projects which enthused me, and displays a record of my commitment to individual creative work.

I sketched a rough layout for the PDF, considering which projects to showcase and in what order, and what text and how much of it to accompany the images. This was helpful in terms of providing me with an inclination of size of images, and hence how much space their would be to make adjustments with.

Putting together the final PDF was a fairly staright-forward process. I decided to give more information over less – thinking that if a viewer is not inclined to read all the text, they can pick and chose areas of interest based on the images, but the information is still available for those who want to read in depth. I've had little to no experience in designing such documents, and Microsoft Word is certainly not the ideal software for such an artefact. But with a bit of wrestling I managed to get to a presentable standard. 

Here's a few pages from the final version.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Degree Show Organisation

Here is a summary of the roles and responsibilities I took on for the planning and instigation of the Photo Synthesis degree show (exhibiting in both Coventry and London):
  • Secretary – producing agendas and minutes for our meetings. Keeping track of overall progress, what tasks still need doing. Keeping everyone informed of proceedings.
  • Treasurer – managing a group bank account, collecting money from all members, planning out and sticking to a budget, being on hand to cover expenses. 
  • Gallery Venue Liaison – meeting with owner of London venue, arranging and confirming booking of space, maintaining communication to support smooth running of London show. 
  • Graphic Design and Marketing Liaison – between photography group and design team, to ensure deadlines were met, aesthetics suitable etc. Marketing link, turned out to be a crucial one, for preventing the printing of a erroneous catalogue.   
  • Coordinator of Photography Works for Auction – meeting with auction organiser from Fine Art course to: arrange suitable submissions of photography pieces, collecting donated works from tutors, organising volunteers from photography students, writing press releases for local press, and flyering leaflets around the city.
  • Inviting Exhibitors and Writers – sending carefully worded requests to established practitioners, success with a catalogue introduction from David Campbell.
  • Draft Writing for Press and Promotions – making use of language skills, working collaboratively with Joanna Ornowska, for proof reading etc.
I've enjoyed the organisational challenge of undertaking these roles, and learnt many skills through the process, which I feel I could apply in a variety of future job positions. 

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

We can achieve great things together.

This is a republication of a post from January (which was not submitted for another module – just to cover myself). The reason for reposting this is that the discussion on my positive outlook towards collaborative work has become all the more relevant following the 'knowing yourself' session.

'The Walk' Short Film

The people depicted here are my family. The story takes place from Summer to Winter. This is a short film I made using stills of their activity with each other, and with the outdoors. The most enlightening and exciting element of producing this was working in collaboration with the composer Brendan Beales. The photographs - their timing and running order - were edited to silence, I then provided Brendan with a total running time, as well as times for various cues and I gave direction for the mood, tempo, and tonality of the music. He did not know which images he was writing the score for, until the piece was completed, this was to avoid 'mickey mousing' the music. Essentially, this production has highlighted for me the pleasure and ability I have, working in collaboration with others towards a larger creative goal. The film and television industry calls all the louder.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Knowing Yourself

The first session of the PPP module required us to question ourselves on our practice, our working methods, and our thoughts about life after university. Breaking these areas down into fairly straightforward but also scrutinising questions proved to be immensely helpful when considering the future. Even if you don't have a particular career angle in mind to aim for – as I don't – these sorts of questions can very much whittle down what you can and can't do, what sort of area you will and won't fit into. Knowing what you don't want to do, is equally beneficial to its opposite.

These are my notes on working through these self-knowing questions. To summarise the key points:
  • At present I am struggling to define myself to anything more specific than a 'creative'.
  • Happiness is success, not the other way round.
  • I would be content to have a 'normal' job for a living, and work creatively outside of hours, thereby removing the stress. However would be great if the two could come together at some point.
  • What I want to do next is figure out what I want to do after that. 
  • Need to work with others to keep driven, can't stand long and lonely evenings in front of a computer screen. Like collaboration, but only if the collaborators are hard-working and reliable. 
  • Efficiency is not my strong point.
So plenty of food for thought, towards forming a plan for the near future.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Professional Practice Portfolio - New Skills

PPP for short, is a small module (the last of my course) which focusses on the process of taking ourselves, and our work out of a university context and into a professional one. It will be tagged on this blog as 'professional portfolio'.

I wanted to begin posting on this with a look back to some professional work that I've done, which although it doesn't relate to my own current practice, it certainly does relate to an area that I am keen to pursue – filmmaking.

Occasionally throughout the year I work with my cousin Jonathan Lee, (a freelance videographer, photographer, educator and such) to produce judicial training videos. I've written about this work before, but I wanted to bring it up again, as due to the job repeating, I have grown to be quite confident with the technical set up and running of the shoot, not to mention keeping calm when working with the high powers of the law system (no actors here).

Once my schedule frees up with the completion of my course, I would like to commit some of that time to further opportunities of assisting on such film work, with my cousin and other media producers. Below is a clip from the final film. 

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Professional Photographic Practice - Final Post

The Professional Photographic Practice module has now come to an end. The work has not necessarily finished, but provided on this blog, is a summary of the project to date.

All content relating to this module can be found under the Photographic Practice label. If you wish, you can view just the posts relating to research, or you can view those which show and explain work that I produced.

The Gorgeous Georgeo video blog can be seen here.

Below is my personal reflective evaluation.

A significant aspect of this module that I was very pleased with, was the fact that the project was self-defined: I felt I had the freedom to work on and embrace ideas which had come naturally to me.

I feel I have produced something quite original, both in the techniques and processes that I have employed (shooting through a two-way mirror and digitally painting a self-portrait), but also in the content and themes that I have addressed.

I am encouraged by the fact that the project has the potential for a strong after-life: in the progression of the pixel portrait; the continued production of Gorgeous Georgeo videos; and perhaps also a follow up to the two-way mirror work. And because of this, the audience may become engaged in the future evolution of this work, rather than simply witnessing a finalised piece.

Ideally, I would have wished for further time to advance the pixel portrait to a more realistic image, and similarly I would have liked to commit more attention to marketing the video blog. I do feel however, that the two-way mirror work was a solid success and fulfilled my original intentions. The decision to go with these three projects of the original six, was a good one I think: time was limited, these were feasible to produce, and with their variety they encompass the wider issues that I wanted to investigate.

Looking back, I can see that for the first half of my course I was interested in intimate portraiture. This then changed to self-portraiture – a topic I felt really connected to! It came naturally. The significant prompt was the ‘Picturing The Body’ module and discovering the theme of wanting to challenge my vanity, which then under-pinned the initial inspiration for this project.

 Looking to the future, I recognise that I am still open-minded in considering professional possibilities. What I do know is that I very much enjoyed conceiving the idea for this project and following it through to produce some strong artistic photographic work.  With this behind me, an importance is now placed on how I broadcast and manage its presence during and after the forthcoming exhibitions. 

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Exhibition Layout for Photo Synthesis Coventry

My work will be exhibited as part of the Photo Synthesis degree show (see the website here), which will have two showings – one in London and one in Coventry (see the events page here).

For the Coventry exhibition I have decided on the following selection and layout of work. Three prints from the two-way mirror work – the third a contact sheet of selected images from the shoot, and alongside these will be the two-way mirror video camera delay installation (click to enlarge). See also the photograph in the 1:15 scale model gallery.

Note that this is primarily just a display of the work relating to the two-way mirror project, rather than showing all aspects of the Self-indulgence of Gorgeous George project. The reason for this, is because for this particular show I feel it is better to deliver less with greater clarity, rather than more with the higher chance of incoherence. Also there is an issue of limited space in the Coventry gallery. In London at the Rag Factory there will be more space, but also that exhibition (with the inclusion of other artists and photographers) will have wider range of work, and I think be more accepting of a 'mixed' showcase. And hence I will be able to physically exhibit the Pixel Portraits and Gorgeous Georgeo videos in that space, as well as the Two-way Mirror images – in other words, the complete project. 

Above is a pencil sketch of the full exhibition (how my work will appear in London). Note that the two-way mirror work is essentially the centre piece of the show, with the pixel portraits and video blog adding depth to the two issues of mirror-image and self-indulgence, respectively.

Final Edit Decisions

The selection process with the two way mirror work for this exhibition, was very challenging. The best approach was a step by step one. I knew I wanted the faces to appear oversize – to give impact to the impression they would have on the viewer – I arrived at a size close to A0, about 46 inches wide by 30 inches high. With the available wall space this meant I could have three prints. I felt that the best way to utilise these three and still deliver the meaning of my work, would be to have two as individuals – to give the 'big hit', and one as a mix of several images from the shoot – to give a description of the variety of poses and expressions produced. 

For this mix print I had to decide carefully about the number of images to use – too many and it would become a large pattern and be awkward to read individual images, too few and it would fail to highlight the rich variety of the facial performances. After much testing and imagining with dummy prints, I decided on a 5 by 5 grid. I also decided on no white borders and no frames, as I wish to display the photographs as directly as possible – I feel that there should be more emphasis on the content of the image, than the prestige of the print. 

To then choose these 25 for the mix print, I had to start and edit down from the 100 or so that made up the whole shoot, this was a simple case of whittling down those that were similar, those that were a bit placid etc. I was also keen to include some of the more varied poses (inclusion of arms, twisted faces etc.) in order to break from the repeat view of straight-on head and shoulders, and keep the overall image 'fresher' on the eyes. Following this was then the matter of choosing the two images to be printed as individuals at full size. The emphasis I placed on this decision was balance – I wanted a pair which suggested both humour and extremism, and which were different enough whilst still remaining related.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Self-portraiture Sells

Yesterday the world record for the most expensive photograph sold at auction was broken. And it was a self-portrait – Cindy Sherman's Untitled #96 went for $3.9 million at Christie's. Story here.

And the top lot of the night, was another self-portrait – specifically Andy Warhol's Self Portrait (1963-1964), which sold for a massive $38.4m. (Although not classed as a photograph, it's is interesting to note that it is made with his famous photo-booth pictures.) Story here.

It seems that self-portraiture is receiving a lot of attention on the market. Couple this with Susan Bright's recent and well-received publication Auto Focus, and it would appear that there is a real growth of interest into this sub-genre. 

I can see this being a benefit to me, particularly for a London exhibition held within a high-interest time and location for the photographic and art worlds. Hopefully my work can stand out as something original, whilst still being associated with a style that is sought after. Who knows, maybe a wealthy art collector will take a liking. I'm just saying.. 

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Jenny Saville

In collaboration with fashion photographer Glen Luchford, Jenny Saville produced the photographic series Closed Contact. These striking and graphic self-portraits (Saville was the model and had directive control) arise from her continued interest in confronting perceptions of feminine beauty - often through large-scale painted nudes, placing emphasis on flesh and voluptuousness.

Her ideas for this series arose from her observations of cosmetic surgery (she witnessed several operations), and her contemplation of the culture which surrounds it. I understand that she was struck by the idea of being able to create beauty through a surgeon's knife – to manipulate, alter, cut, and push about the body at will, and also the apparent normality of it all to the clients and doctors. Her standpoint isn't negative or critical of cosmetic surgery however, she is simply fascinated by its application. (You can see Saville's observations and opinions on the matter, in this documentary about her work – go from 7:07).

Her response was then to produce the Closed Contact series, in which she moulded and manipulated her body on a large sheet of perspex with Luchford taking photographs from below.

Closed Contact #14 (above), and #8

Interesting to note here that Saville had a mirror positioned beneath her to assist her with posing, (as seen in this video clip - from 0:48) presumably so that she could arrange her face and body to the desired, and quite extreme, level of manipulation. Just so as I have used a two-way mirror to find and capture that exact moment when my face is transfigured to a dramatically altered expression. 

What remains unclear, is Saville's motive for producing this work insofar as how she wants it to be read. Personally I find the images quite shocking and even a bit repulsive, and yet I also feel compelled to examine them – drawn to identify the features amongst the gruesomeness. Katherine Dunn makes her analysis in the exhibiton catalogue: 
"The images offer, not a story, but an experience that begins in visceral uneasiness and gradually shifts to a haunted serenity. The discomfort is complicated. It is triggered partly by our sense of the instantaneous monstrosity of a normal human transformed by the spreading of the shape beyond what we understood as normal…"
Words taken from the Closed Contact page on the Gagosian Gallery website.

I don't see my own images causing great discomfort, and certainly not a sense of monstrosity, but I am interested in there being a suggestion of transfiguration to 'beyond normal'. I suppose the major difference is that I want there to be a stronger element of my personality coming through the work. I hope that I can bring to the fore the 'self mockery versus narcissism' complex that I investigated in my research project, and that this will be suggested through the title of the work and the accompanying statement. I'm also hoping that viewers will interact with the mirror/video installation, and through that interaction, consider how they publicly-present a version of themselves, and then how they might alter it for their reception within the exhibition space. Perhaps they'll even take part in some vanity-busting self-mockery.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Final Two-way Mirror shoot

The previous shoot granted me technical success regarding the lighting and the reflections. But there were a few things that needed addressing before I tackled the final shoot. The framing was a bit too tight in the previous images – sometimes just cutting off the top of my head (part of this is due to the fact that some of the poses involve a tension throughout the body, and hence my head tends to vary its position within the frame). The simple solution to this, was to zoom out for the shoot and then crop back in tighter, in post-production.

The other issue with the previous shoot was that my performance felt a bit ad hoc. It was essentially just a test shoot - but it drew my attention to the fact that I needed to plan my poses. I was aware that I had already rehearsed the poses (without really meaning to) in my engagement and play in front of a normal mirror, and there were certain expressions that I wanted to capture. I wrote a list of my ideas: 'make the face as vertically stretched as possible', 'as squashed as possible', 'every feature big and swollen', 'small and thin', 'this side up and the other down'; and then drew up a quick guide with simple diagrams or words to represent my ideas. This then served as a rough guide and reference point for the performance. It wasn't a complete instruction manual, because spontaneity in front of the mirror ('going a bit wild') was a useful method in this production.

Here's a contact sheet of the majority of the shoot (minus some errors and repeats). The difficult decision-making process of which ones to exhibit now begins.

I also shot some video on the day. The first is a video performance alike to the photographs. It is a combination of the rehearsed expressions from above, and spontaneous play acting similar to that found on the Gorgeous Georgeo video blog. The second video is a technical explanation (or 'making of'), of how the two-way mirror images were produced. 

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Pixel Portrait - the real(?) starts to appear

There was a big step between this and the previous pixel-portraits. That difference is down to the use of blending and shading. Until now I have mostly painted using block colours (because I initially needed to determine the principal areas) and of course this colouring is not particularly realistic. Now that the face layout has been defined, I have been able to mix these colours – by varying the opacity of brushstrokes between colours, and then overlaying them – to give a gradient of tone to the skin. This then allowed me to begin utilising shading, which in turn gave depth to the features, and advanced the level of realism of the image.

Pixel-Painted Self-Portrait #6

As the portrait progresses, its development is slowing. The sessions now take the better part of a day, and the level of detail (now working with brushes as small as 2 or 3 pixels in diameter) means that the changes are increasingly subtle. When I started the project I had no completion date in mind, as I was aware that the process of this task was very much an unknown, and to aim for a realistic looking photograph made by painting pixels could take an incredibly long time.

Hence for the upcoming degree shows, I will present this project as a work in progress. I see this as a good thing, better in fact than if I were to present a final and resolved piece. If I can find a way to neatly exhibit the six successive pixel portraits in an online gallery (see below), then an audience can engage with the project's evolution. And then there is the potential to generate interest in the subsequent development and outcome of the project - an opportunity for the work to acquire a following and have life after these upcoming shows.

(adding shading to the eye area)

Self-Portrait with Mirror and Pixel Canvas (after Johannes Gumpp)

Johannes Gumpp Self Portrait with Mirror and Canvas

An effective presentation of the pixel portraits for now, is as a short slideshow, with a a slow cross dissolve between each image - which becomes especially effective towards the end when the transition is less noticeable. Enjoy.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Mirror Video Delay Installation

Recently I had the idea to add an installation piece to accompany my planned exhibition work. In short this piece will consist of a tall plinth/box, mounting in one side a two-way mirror, behind which is a video camera, which gives a delayed output of 1 minute or so to a monitor on the other side of the plinth to the mirror. In other words it will allow a viewer to look at, interact, confront, pull faces to etc. their reflection and then have the opportunity to watch it moments after, from the mirror's/camera's point of view.

There are several reasons for this decision. My self-portraits made using a two-way mirror, will appear, and may be thought of, as simple direct studio portraits. This would be a shame considering the effort applied in that setup, and the theory behind the work which is strongly connected to the mirror and the reflection. Including the mirror as part of an installation will then help in elaborating the process and motives of producing this work. An interactive element to a show is almost always a good idea, it gathers the audiences interest and helps them to feel involved, and hence more connected to the works on the wall. In the case of my two-way mirror images I feel that this installation, if accompanied by a suitable and simple explanation, could encourage the audience to participate in a similar self-mocking behaviour to my own. And furthermore, this participation could then greatly assist the audience in understanding my rationale for producing this project.

This diagram shows the design of the installation piece, including an internal layout. The plan has been submitted and approved by the wood workshop technicians at University, and I will proceed with construction next week. Arranging the video delay aspect of the piece has proven a bit more challenging. Such editing effects, are best done through a software program called Isadora, which was designed by performing arts practitioners to use in multi-media and video installation performance pieces. It is an incredibly powerful and complex program, utilising a sort of flow chart design of any 'scene' you wish to create, and with a huge number of 'actors' - each of which produces a different effect. Thankfully a video delay is quite simple and can be seen in situ below. There is also a 'capture control' actor, which in line with setting up power scheduling on the computer, means that the installation will be fully automated, turning itself on in the morning and off at night (hopefully), and therefore saving me the need to unscrew the side panel each day. 

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

The Two-way Mirror Project

The initial test shoot with the two-way mirror rewarded me with little, but taught me a great deal. The most significant lesson learnt was that it's all about the light, of course!

A two-way mirror is essentially a normal piece of see-through glass or acrylic, but with a sort of 'semi-coating' of reflective foil (a normal mirror has a full, light-impenetrable coating), which means that it has the ability to allow light to pass through, as well as reflect it. The function of a two-way mirror is dependant on the ambient light on either side of it. The side intended to behave as a mirror needs a lot of ambient light, so that it bounces back an image, and the see-through side needs to be dark, so that the image will pass through. Another explanation is provided by the very helpful people at (where I purchased mine from):

In reality this means that the two sides must be isolated from one another and the difference in light needs to be dramatic. In fact, if I wish to produce pictures which will appear as straight portraits, then the 'window side' needs to completely dark so that the camera doesn't see itself in a partial reflection.
My solution to this - bin bags. And clothes pegs.

This way the camera sits in a completely unlit environment, and as far as it is concerned the mirror is effectively a window. Meanwhile the subject (me) is well illuminated by the studio lights, and experiences only a mirror. And what does this particular subject do when he encounters a mirror...

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Wols/ Arnulf Rainer

The following two artists have both produced self-portraits in which they alter and manipulate their facial features.

Wols (pseudonym for Wolfgang Schulze) was both a painter and photographer working in France in the 1930's and 40's, known for his depictions of ambitious scenes using modest every-day objects. In 1940 he produced a series of what was then considered remarkable self-portraits, exploiting the potential to vary his facial appearances and expressions.

Arnulf Rainer, from the series Face Farces
"Arnulf Rainer's main subject has always been himself, seen as an actor in extreme situations, comic or tragic. His first photographic self-portraits were made in a passport photo-booth in Vienna's main railway station in 1968-9. His idea was that acting in front of the camera would call up 'dormant, or psychopathic reserves of energy'. Then in the 1970's he began to supplement the photographs with violent over drawing, to reveal new and unexpected personages within himself, he called the portraits face-farces. The grimaces in these portraits are projected outwards, and they are affronts meant both to engross and to keep others at a distance." (Words taken from the Phaidon Photography Book.) 
The reason I have presented these two together, is not because I want to make a strong connection between them, but because on discovering them and recognising their similarity to my intended project, I felt it was important to acknowledge their significance as past photographic work which defines the context of my own. In that respect, I need to question what there motives were for producing these photographs. It would seem that Rainer's work relates to issues of internal conflict, and there may be an incentive from him to resolve this. Wols motivation seems to be more of an experimentation and light-hearted playfullness - but I imagine that for 1940 they would have seemed quite unusual portraits.

I can draw parallels here to my own work. To Wols in the sense that I too am hoping to present photographs that are a bit unusual, that will draw attention due to their originality (but with a rationale of deeper meaning behind them). But also (and more so) to Rainer, in my attempts to resolve something internal. A significant focus of my research project was self-mockery. And that is a charecteristic that I want to communicate with my final images, and I hope an audience will find them humorous. But self-mockery is a characteristic with many levels, beneath it is a self-criticism, even a self-inflicted insult. And the criticism I make of myself, and the personality flaw I wish to ameliorate with this project, is vanity and narcissism. I think it is important that I find a way to deliver that motive to the audience (it could just be a short statement accompanying the images somewhere) as it will offer them a greater understanding of the exhibited photographs.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Bruce Nauman

With my proposed plans to produce self-portraits which display extreme and altered facial performances, comes the need to look to other artists who have dealt with similar subject matter. The first is Bruce Nauman.

From Study for Holograms

There is also a similar video performance 'Pinch Neck' found here.

Nauman argues for his own body to be considered as viable as any other object for the use of sculpture, as is evidenced in his famous Self-Portrait as a Fountain. The quality I see in the images above is the extremity to which Nauman transfigures his face – it almost becomes alien. And that extremism is something I would like to attempt, to show the great variation possible within the facial appearance, perhaps even to lead the audience to question how two very different expressions can have been produced by the same person.

The major disparity between the images above and the ones I intend to produce, is that Nauman removes his identity by cropping the work. I want my identity to be a feature of my images, so as to highlight my attempts at humour and self-mockery as a counter to narcissism. My simultaneous criticism and indulgence of vanity is a very personal aspect, which defines my work.  However Nauman's faces have led me to question to what extent my own facial performances could be considered as sculpture. A part of me feels happy for them to be thought of that way, as demonstrations of behaviours which I would encourage others to partake in. And this thought in turn lends support to my plans for an interactive element of my exhibition.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Gorgeous Georgeo begins

The Gorgeous Georgeo video blog is now running. In short this aims to be a regularly updated diary of webcam performances - displaying a general indulgence of trivial aspects of my personality, experiences, thoughts etc. The motive of this is to investigate the desires (of me/of everyone) to be celebrity/revered/known through attempting humour.

The larger project is titled The Self-Indulgence of Gorgeous George, of which a detailed explanation can be found here. Also relating to this work, is the research I conducted into self-mockery within self-portraiture, which is summed up here.

Still from Face Rub

Stills from Arrow Shot, Self Videos

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Studio Test with Two-way Mirror

Today was the first session with a two-way mirror in the studio. The experience is best described as a learning curve. Two-way mirrors do not easily provide the clean unhindered visual trick as seen in the movies – they need coercing into behaving correctly. Today I got close, but there is still a significant problem with reflections on the camera side. However I have a cunning and very much 'home-made' idea to solve this – we'll see from the next shoot if it succeeds..

Determining exposure was also awkward, because shooting through a piece of partially transparent acrylic reduces it by approximately two stops – as I found out through trial and error (pre-visualisation can only do so much in this case).

As well as progressing with this test process, I also managed to get a bit of 'behind the scenes' video thanks to my course mate Mino being on hand to shoot it. And this gave me the chance to explain some of the thoughts and motives behind the project, and also provide a peek at the set-up (accompanied by cheesy music and everything!)

Friday, 15 April 2011

Emma Sailah's Mirror Mirror project

Sailah is a photographer based in Sydney. Mirror Mirror is the title of her current and defining body of work, and is best described by her:
"Mirror Mirror project is part of an ongoing body of work that explores identity, voyeurism, and self-expression through innovative photographic techniques and practices. The project consists of a series of portraits and video footage shot through a two-way mirror as individuals sit alone in front of their reflection. The subjects became unintended exhibitionists, allowing the work to question an individual’s sense of self, private personas, and the nature of spectatorship." 

©All images copyright Emma Sailah.

For each session the participant would sit in complete isolation for 30 minutes whilst Sailah photographed them. Equally interesting to the images is the video footage which displays subjects reaction and then self-conscious presentation as 'unintended exhibitionists' as their pictures are repeatedly taken. See more here.

The relevance of Sailah's project to my own, is not just in its use of a two-way mirror, but in its exploration into a person's encounter with their reflection. In my research presentation I argued that engaging with a mirror is a naturally captivating experience, one that all people respond to in some way.  Would the poses and the expressions of Sailah's subjects be the same if they were just looking at a camera lens, as in a straight portrait?

Sailah states that her work aims to question individual's private personas, similarly I am looking to investigate the play and balance between the expression of private and public selves. The difference is that where Sailah's work adopts a voyeuristic process, mine will exhibit the rehearsed and controlled performance of self-portraiture.

On a purely technical note – I am drawn to the simplicity of Sailah's lighting. The grey background and balanced illumination allow the viewer to focus on the subject (she also took inspiration from Robbie Cooper - as mentioned on her blog). Compositionally – I will probably go for a tighter crop as my work is primarily about the facial performance.