Thanks to my supervisor at Griffith Uni, I recently got to spend a couple weeks in the Unites States, attending two conferences with the Social Marketing @ Griffith team. Some extra days spent in New York and Los Angeles, I took a couple of photos.
Central Park was much bigger than I thought it would be. I saw a modern Ballet performance featuring a Sufjan Stevens score. That really stretched the artistic appreciation in me! Goodness. I ate a lot of good Mexican food, and missed decent coffee from home. New York was overwhelmingly iconic. There must be someone photographing the city during each waking moment. Again, I just had my Chinon with me, the automatic 35mm camera.
Often I don't feel like taking photos of the same thing as others, especially in a tourist situation. I mean, why doesn't one person just get a good shot and share it around? Vivid Sydney is a good example. Each night, the Quay is lined with more tripod legs than human, as hundreds of people take almost the exact same photo of the Opera House. People love it, and thats great! Ofcourse people can take photos of whatever they want to, perhaps they get something out of it that I don't.
But I think I'm much more interested in photography as a whole other thing entirely. I'm just interested in personal, subjective value of photography. The idea that we fill images with our own thoughts and desires, fears, hopes and ghosts.
I like photos that lack a direct subject but instead provide a space to put my thoughts, give shape to what I feel. Tell me a story about myself. Offer my eyes some rest and take instead air from my lungs. Help me breathe out. Make me feel something. I like photos that somehow capture something of what it means to be human. Photos that recognise human perception, the inescapable attachment of the mind to the lens. Photos that leave room for you to just be for a while. Perhaps what I mean is the experience of self, art that makes space for introspection. I'm thinking about an emotional experience, some kind of expression of the infinite universe of the subjective self. I'm fascinated by the idea that we fill images with our own desires and hopes. This can be liberating, terrifying or disappointing. And perhaps it helps us come to terms with our experience of life.
But there is a kind-of problem with this subjectivity. What if I don't find value in an image or someone doesn't find value in mine? What if no-one could? There is an absolute risk of no-one finding value in such a photo. With my own photos, I like to think I'm always telling a story to myself anyway, like an unsent letter or a prayer. I think of my photos as an expression of myself, and so they usually hold alot of meaning for me. These photos of New York and Los Angeles are trying to share an experience, what it was like to be there, rather than trying to capture the place itself. What is a place other than our experience of it? This subjectivity in photography is a problem; but a beautiful one. It holds no guarantee of meaning but in doing so, offers something else. Something that can't be held explicitly by a subject but only alluded to, held by space.
Sometimes in photos, my own and others, I find room to breathe and rest. And I can only hope that you might experience something like that in my photos too. I don't know what you put in the space I leave in the frames, but I hope they offer something. I'm constantly wondering. It's a beauty that couldn't exist were objectivity to be in it's place, if photos were just about subjects, information and Opera Houses. And it's a hope strong enough for me to show you what I've made.