Exercise 3: Constructing Photography
Record a real conversation with a friend. (It’s up to you whether you ask permission or not!) Before listening to the recording, write your account of both sides of the conversation.
Then listen to the recording and make note of the discrepancies. Perhaps there are unfinished sentences, stammers, pauses, miscommunications etc.
Reflect upon the believability of re-enacted narratives and how this can be applied to constructed photography. What do you learn from the conversation recording process and how can you transfer what you learned into making pictures?
I talked with my son about gender politics, what it is, what he thinks the issues are, what the young people are discussing and how topical it is.
I started off by describing what I thought it was and the issues it presents, the things I understand and those that I don’t-I used the example of a friend of the family who has decided to use ‘he’ as a pronoun and how I struggle understanding that especially as she is the most feminine person I know…then the conversation drifted into the politics and the role of Stonewall-how they have become more radical. I made the point that some men seem to be making a land grab and telling women what it means to be a woman.
My son felt we should support minorities but agreed some men were moving in on territory that women had fought years to win, but on the other hand, some men really do identify being a woman.
He felt that there are people who manipulate the situation and make a much bigger deal out of it than is needed and get too hung up about certain things. I jumped in at this stage and talked about dead naming and used an example of a lunchtime session io did at work to get introduced to the topic and a trans woman spent hours almost crying about being dead-named.
When I played back the conversation I had missed a lot.
My son used an example of comparing men to foxes moving in on women’s territory. I was also a lot less articulate-lots of pauses, ems, and long sentences to get to the point I wanted to make.I struggled with the nuances of the subject-matter.
He also made the that people get too uptight when people switch genders and it’s just not a big deal. I misunderstood and didn’t grasp a few of his points until I listened to the recording.
I think if re-enacted narratives are done well they are easily believable but people see different things with different eyes when it comes to photographs. They tend to see and believe things that are in line with their worldview or frame of reference, so understanding is fluid. When I first saw the image ‘A sudden Gust of Wind’ by Jeff Wall, I actually thought it was a candid image caught at the right time and not a constructed image. The different elements were all believable and within my frame of reference. For this reason, I feel that the ‘punctum’ that Barthes talks about is very personal and something that cannot be factored into an image-its simply too subjective and dependent on the viewer’s prior experience so I wouldn’t create an image with that is my goal. Instead, I would concentrate on making believable images within a realistic frame of reference, paying attention to details while considering the context and how the narrative will be received. In the conversation with my son, he used a fox as metaphor for men and this is something I would also look to incorporate in my images, metaphors or details that support the narrative and make it memorable.
Wall,J,1993 A sudden gust of wind https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/wall-a-sudden-gust-of-wind-after-hokusai-t06951#:~:text=A%20Sudden%20Gust%20of%20Wind%20(after%20Hokusai)%20is%20a%20large,Sudden%20breeze%20at%20Ejiri%20(accessed 31/08/2022)