Development of initial proposal – Additional content added as new update (paragraph at end in bold)
University Of Salford – BA(HONS) Photography
Advanced Research Strategies – Initial Proposal
Overview/Topics Of Interest:
When it came to sitting and thinking about my final major project I was certain I needed to reflect on my previous work from the past 2 and a half years and look for the key themes and issues that reoccur in my work as to come up with an idea that will fully engage and excite me.
I want to create a body of work that encompasses ideas I have explored previously as upon reflection I noted a key interest in human behaviour and sociology in the majority of my work.
Taking this into account I got my note book out where I jot all my ideas down and found many potential projects I have expressed interest in exploring all sit on the baseline dealing with ideas about society and how humans respond in a variety of situations. I realised, as versatile as each one may seem on the surface the interest that epitomises all of them is this intense curiosity about the human race and how we respond to the world around us. Whether that be each other, the media, our emotions, social norms, social hierarchy, or general day to day situations.
Initially, I plan to go through all my ideas that would explore variant levels of human behaviour and pick the key ones to begin constructing ideas of how they would be best achieved. It is extremely important for me to constantly consider the modes of display for this work as it is the combination of a handful of projects that will communicate the underlying interest in social behaviour.
Research will be key in informing my practice and understanding people. I have already began to look into body language in order to build a better understanding of how humans work on that level.
I’m interesting in manufacturing situations which reveal the vulnerability of people and the ways we respond. Additionally I am interested in exploring the factors which alter our behaviour in certain situations.
Statement Of Intent:
Create a collection of work that uses a variety of different mediums and methods to explore the human race and how we respond in different situations, the final mode of display envisioned as an almost installation gallery piece compromising of elements which stimulate a selection of the human senses; Sight, hearing, smell, touch
The viewing of the final piece will, in a way be an interesting social experiment in itself as the viewer interacts with the piece on such a physical level.
There will be video clips, sound, imagery, things to stimulate smell and touch also.
Some of the individual projects will play a larger role than others – some are simply an aid to bombarding the viewer with situations which make them reconsider themselves in relation to others.
#1 – Reactions to transgendered people and women relation to how different clothing is accepted and expected in different situations. I;E woman in slouch wear in a bar = lesbian
woman scantily clad whilst shopping = slut
transgender – public find drag artists entertaining but transgender offensive and odd?
#2 – Kissing project – series of short films of strangers who have never met kissing
could get people involved telling them all about what will happen. they will all sit in a room with eyes covered and no interaction with others allowed.
I would go round tapping them and giving them a number before randomly selecting pairs of numbers to remove from the room and place in a studio environment where they could take off their masks and have to kiss knowing nothing about one another.
Nudity could be an interesting strand to it as this would then also explore the levels of human comfort.
#3 – Getting people to swap clothes – Pictures before and after outfit swap.
#4 – Get people to pose with me like they know me – forced awkwardness.
#5 – Pay it forward – interactive piece encourage public to share images
Explore how humans respond to the creation of art – explores ideas of community and humans attitudes towards the idea of a community.
Leave an object with a tag – message “photograph me in your favourite place” It will then have an email address to send the images to and an Instagram hashtag – after doing so they will be encouraged to leave it for someone else to find.
#6 – Film someone eating – The way we eat in public is a performance and completely different to how we eat in private. A close up of someone eating would stimulate a feeling of discomfort as we aren’t comfortable with the idea of being observed whilst indulging .
#7 – Someone putting on make-up – a process informed by society, a self constructed mask we apply to conform to ideals defined by the media. Most women are uncomfortable at the idea of putting make-up on in public – images/film clips of this would create a potential curiosity from males and a sense of invasion of privacy from women perhaps.
#8 – Short clip of someone asleep – similarly to #6 viewing someone in deep sleep would feel like an invasion of privacy, thus stimulating a sensation of discomfort.
Aims & Objectives:
Revisit previous work
Gather and understand the recurrent themes in each and how they are related
Collect contextual and visual reference to inform my practice at the experimental stages
Further develop my knowledge and understanding of my key message to narrow down each broad idea to a point where as versatile as each individual deliverable may be they all clearly communicate the same interest and idea
Begin to construct a working title – influenced and informed by quality research
Refer to previous reference points to contextualise my idea in terms of contemporary fine art practice
Visit galleries regularly to inspire and generate ideas for my final mode of display
Develop and experiment visuals in conjunction with reading of informed theory
Create a body of work that illustrates a vast skill set all working towards communicating the same idea – showcasing the various ways of expressing a chosen message.
Previous projects with relevance:
The work I produced for the City brief at level 4, then developed for the book assignment was heavily influenced by my interest in youth culture and the way the city transforms into an unbar playgroup as peoples behaviour changes in relation to the consumption of intoxicating substances.
Also – the work produced at level 5 with Jason and Karin where in a group me and 3 fellow students constructed an idea and theme for a hypothetical photo festival and each produced individual work in response to that theme “the endless cycle” – My work for that was all about taught behaviour and how we understand each others emotions through facial expressions which are taught – this was linked with the idea of sleep and it being an emotional state of being where visually the emotional experience wasn’t physically displayed.
A personal project I developed over the summer explored working class holidays at english seaside locations and attempted to portray the ways people act in various situations with a focus on visual irony and an element of humour.
For the cyborg brief I explored the female form and the ways women conform to pressures in the media and social form to be aesthetically pleasing
For our last module – A created a short piece of moving imagery exploring the way humans become infatuated with others and behave in an obsessive manner.
Previous research points with relevance:
Work created by:
Books such as;
Ways of seeing – John Berger
Camera Lucida – Roland Barthes
Photography at the dock – Abigail Solomon-Godeau
On photography – Susan Sontag
Feminism and youth culture – Angela Mcrobbie
Initial research informing and helping construct some of my ideas:
women photographs herself receiving strange looks in public
how men see women modestly clothed VS wearing revealing clothes
men see women as an object
Mothers reaction to girls sexualised selfies
study exploring gender difference in brain activation to audio-visual sexual stimulation
kids react to gay marriage
video inspiring me to want to crete scenarios of strangers kissing
‘Gender Panic’ Affects Attitudes About Transgender Rights
Gay UK Art Student Will Lose Virginity in Live Sex Show
Will smith and family react to Miley Cyrus performance
Truck driver ‘was looking at pictures of women on Facebook’ when he crashed into emergency vehicles, killing police officer
Ethics of Lust: All About Scantily Clad Women
Shanghai Subway Tells Scantily Clad Women To Expect Sexual Harassment
Proposal Summary & Development:
25/11/13 (Week 2 proposal development)
Upon reflection of my initial proposal I wish to note developments, ideas, new considerations, associated ideas and concepts, new reference points, potential avenues for development, project concerns and potential practical issues all of which last weeks proposal feedback session has aided in highlighting.
I am aware of the time constraints attached to this assignment and as pointed out in the feedback session I can continue to explore this idea upon completion of my degree, however I still strongly insist that in order to truly depict and draw upon questions regarding the complex nature of human behavior I will need to explore multiple avenues in order to present a final body of work that depicts the various ways in which humans act/react to given stimuli.
Over the coming weeks the most appropriate ideas will become apparent and it will begin to make sense which of the ideas, and how many of them I should develop for my final piece.
It’s important for me to establish a selection which will compliment each other whilst providing an overview of potentially both instinct based and taught behavior as well as attempting to challenge the notion that both social and cultural background can alter such reactions.
A significant weight of interest surrounding this body of work is not only the reactions I wish to depict but also the audiences observation of their own reaction to the works. This brings me onto potential technical issues which will have to be carefully considered and developed throughout the duration of the project.
In order to present the viewers with images (still and or moving – yet to be decided) of themselves captured as they experience the work I will need to develop some sort of process which allows for a delay and perhaps some interaction from the audience to trigger when they reach the final screen play depicting their reactions. This is crucial as the time spent with each piece will not be controlled – this is a conscious decision as I think this variation of time spent at each destination according to the circumstances and background of the viewer will prove equally as interesting as the work itself.
I envision an installation piece which guides the viewer from each individual element to another, ending with one final section which, unbeknown to the audience will, when activated replay their reactions to the imagery they have just experienced.
In order to achieve this a system inflicting a certain degree of control will have to be firmly instilled.
Potentially a one viewer a time system could work, however in this instance I have to consider the fact that this could effect the amount of people that choose to engage with the piece. I also like the idea, as previously mentioned of bringing in various elements of stimuli that would engage a variety of the human senses – obviously sight will be the main sense I am drawing upon, but also hearing will be stimulate through sound clips – perhaps in cases of ideas such as #2 #6 #8 (eating, sleeping, kissing) where sound clips would accompany the imagery. I feel these sounds would assist in provoking a reaction from the audience, although, with idea #8 (sleeping) in particular silence could be equally as effective and provoke more discomfort due to the nature of the idea and the audiences expectations that could potentially have been set with the other two.
Here I feel it is important to note for myself and reflect upon a point made in the feedback session which potentially served to challenge the notion that viewing someone asleep would feel like an invasion of privacy. As a point of reference Sam Taylor-Wood’s video of sleeping Beckham was brought up, and the fact that viewing that piece was considered quite comforting and potentially arousing for some of the audience (juxtaposing my idea of it feeling somewhat like an invasion of privacy) I feel this related directly to my initial points that social status and various other factors can affect our behavior and reaction to imagery. In this instance I believe Beckham’s celebrity status serves as a justification in the public interest in seeing him asleep – people feel almost although they are entitles to viewing such a ‘private’ time due to his position in social hierarchy.
At this stage, I am aware I have fairly a fairly ambitious plan, yet confident that as the weeks go on and the project develops it will compromise a solid basis for analysis of human behavior.
Another major consideration I need to be aware of and wish to make note of relates to the participants I get involved in each project and how best to engage a cross section of the public which will depict a true variant selection, thus leading to accurate results in regards to making any conclusions about human behavior.
For some of the proposed ideas this shouldn’t present as much of an issue, for example #1 – the people who’s reactions will be being observed will be unaware that they are participating, therefore illuminating any notion of the subject selection being bias. Similarly with #5 – the people who choose to engage with the item and project aren’t selected by myself at all and it’s completely random and out of my hands as soon as the object is left in a public space. Of course there is no guarantee it will ever make it past the first member of the public who finds it, however this in itself is interesting and would stimulate some debate about how people engage with creative projects.
Additionally with this idea specifically There are questions I need to answer in regards to my main interest. I could take this idea and make it about recording and presenting the ways in which people will go about obtaining an item which doesn’t belong to them whilst in a public forum. Alternatively, another strand to this is to focus more on this idea of ‘paying it forward’ and looking to examine what happens once the participant has obtained the item and how they go about reacting to the instructions provided. In it’s simplest form, this will be evident in the number of images I get back.
I have got some books from the library, and purchased some from amazon which will help structure an informed basis of inquiry for this project in it’s infancy. I feel the initial research will guide me and the project will form fairly organically according to my findings.
It was important for me to begin thinking about humans on a more psychological level, and despite having read a wealth of texts previously I feel it is absolutely essential and relevant to revisit them now that I am dealing with these ideas directly rather than simply reading out of personal interest.
Additionally, I want to build up a level of understanding human behaviour in the forms of body language and facial expression ect. Not only this, but it’s important for me to begin investing interest in studies which record and provide an insight into human cognitive functions.
Ethics is going to play a huge role in this project for me and will require much consideration and understanding, so I have got a book covering this topic also.
I found a book which looks at persuasion and indoctrination, exploring how brainwashing happens. The book essentially would be a good tool for someone in sales, but I felt it would potentially aid me when it comes to working with the public and getting them to participate in my project.
Judith Butler – Gender Trouble
Introducing Barthes – Philip Thody-Piero
Introducing psychology – Nigel Benson
Introducing logic – Dan Cryan
Introducing Ethics – Chris Garratt
Introducing Mind and Brain – Oscar Zarate
Introducing Philosophy – Judy Groves
Emotions Revealed: Understanding Faces and Feelings – Prof Paul Ekman
Journalistic Ethics (Moral Responsibility in the media) – Dale Jacquette
Atlas Of Facial Expression – Stephen Rogers Peck
Laughter and Ridicule: Towards a social Critique Of Humour – Michael Billig
Questioning identity: Gender, Class, Nation: Gender, Class, Ethnicity (Understanding Social Change) – Kath Woodward
Understanding Body Langauge in a week – Dick Thompson
Understanding Body Language – Jane Lyle
The Definitive Book Of Body Langauge: How To Read Others’ Attitudes by Their Gestures – Allan Pease