Informing Contexts: Week 5. Independent Reflection W/C 23/02/2018

Following on from this weeks work we were asked to consider our gaze. This was a particularly interesting week for me as it is quite relevant as to why I started to look at macro photography in the first place. To challenge what people see, to encourage people to really look, to look around the full frame to see what they can see.

It also made me think about how I look at images. When I go to the Side Gallery in Newcastle, I like to get quite close to the glass and really look for the textures around the image. In past exhibitions like Shipbuilding on the Tyne by Bruce Rae I enjoyed looking at the textures of the metal where it had been worked, where the colours went from black to shiny glowing silver – it is this type of effect that I would like to achieve in my own work. After this initial look I am led to look at what is in the background working outwards leaving me wondering what is outside the boundary line of the frame.

With my own work as described in my own way of looking I want to encourage people to look around the image, can they see what I see? If not what is it that they can see? Perhaps I am more motivated exploring the gaze of others than I am of my own.

Voyeurism was a topic that we discussed at our tutorial this week. Whilst I don’t necessarily agree that for me sexual pleasure is obtained by creating or photographing or even reading my images, there has to be some form of pleasure otherwise why would we do it? Again not in a sexual way I enjoy watching other people read my images and try to piece together what it is that they are seeing. Perhaps it is still a form of voyeurism like Merry Alpern’s collection Dirty Windows as people do not always know that I am observing their reactions.

With regards to my project work I have been looking at Animism. It was a term I had not heard of before, but one of my fellow students mentioned inanimate objects and the Shrine of the Dolls in Wakayama, Japan in a tutorial and I went from there.

In a simple online search I found the following definition:


  1. the attribution of a living soul to plants, inanimate objects, and natural phenomena
  2. the belief in a supernatural power that organizes and animates the material universe.

Anima = Life, Soul.

Gary Ferraro, in the book Cultural Anthropology: An Applied Perspective defines Animism as:

“The belief that spiritual beings exist and that spirits also reside in plants, inanimate objects, and natural phenomena” (Ferraro, 2014, Pg 418) does a really great job of explaining the concept of animism.

I can apply this to my work through dealing with my objects in a more sympathetic manner. Dealing with them like I would a person and this is a major turning point in my project.

During my week 4 work was when I saw the change being in the way I had started to discuss the way I spoke about my image and now not treating them as inanimate object but actual things with spirits has changed my whole process entirely.

If inanimate objects have a soul I want to show their lives, their story and this inspired me.

It led me to research what the stages of life were scientifically.

  • Infancy (Birth -2),
  • Early Childhood (3-5),
  • Middle/Late Childhood (6-12),
  • Adolescence (13-18),
  • Early Adulthood (19-20),
  • Middle Adulthood (30-60),
  • Late Adulthood (61+),
  • Death.


This was the most comprehensive breakdown that I studies and I moved to start thinking how I could include these stages using inanimate objects, and also about life events that could occur during these life stages that could be made recognisable to a viewer.

This also led me to take me first images with this narrative. Following the feedback received during my portfolio reviews I decided to work with a DSLR again, instead of the iPhone to see how I felt about the images.

These images from last week cover Birth/infancy:

I also wanted to experiment with working life in the images:

Whether I return to working with my iPhone I am not sure yet, I like the feeling and clarity of my new images, but life isn’t always clean-cut so using an iPhone that everyday people use often might be another thread to the narrative.

I was also led in my research to look at elements of Panpsychism:

“the doctrine or belief that everything material, however small, has an element of individual consciousness.”

This seems a bit more of a complex area that I need to work on to get a more complete understanding as it is more of a philosophical term.

I am also drawn to add some elements of Anthropomorphism into my research:

“the attribution of human characteristics or behaviour to a god, animal, or object.”

I am doing this through the characteristics I am hoping to capture within my work.

I feel this week has given my work much more direction and the narrative that it has been lacking.


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