Wednesday, January 28, 2009


                            table football in the snow

This is a particularly depressing little scene: the two table football teams facing off each other with a marked lack of aggression or enthusiasm, just a melancholy resignation at being left out at the back of a frat house in this appalling weather.   And yet there's something rather stoic about them too: a plastic equivalent of the Xi'an Terracotta Army.

So how do they fit into any of the reading for tomorrow?   I want to put them forward as a kind of deadpan photography: to be sure, the subject matter lacks the scale of that photographed by some of the best-known examples that appear in our reading (Andreas Gursky, Walter Niedermayr, Thomas Struth, Candida Hofer [I'll work umlauts out when I have more time], say).   But on the other hand, these miniature homunculi manage to have a kind of grandiose stature.    And I've certainly tried to avoid "the hyperbolic, sentimental and subjective" in subject matter, angle, lighting, and to approach them with an air of detachment - no intrusion of my own subjectivity or personality here: "a neutral photographic stance," (all quotes from Charlotte Cotton's chapter on Deadpan).    And yet, despite the way in which they offer a kind of elegiac statement about leisure, consumerism, etc, there's also something bathetic about them that I don't associate with deadpan - which makes me wonder how far it's possible to parody the style, or whether one of its essences is that it's non-parodiable.

Those of you already familiar with my plastic flamingo pictures will, quite rightly, wonder what it is, though, that leads me to photograph artificial objects that have ended up marooned in melting snow.   I can't answer that: I've only just picked up on a pattern...

And you might well wonder why yesterday, the shortest-lived blog in the world existed for a handful of hours, and then disappeared again.   Honestly, one of the hardest things is Naming One's Blog (though those members of the Writing and Photography class who have already posted theirs don't seem afflicted with this problem...).   I knew something wasn't quite right with the last one.   Around 3 in the morning I woke up with a painful sense that it was very wrong indeed - and I'm grateful no one else pointed it out to me first.   Not much point in substituting "pixels" of nature for Fox Talbot's "pencil" - the sun, or light, remains the same in both cases - it's just the nature of the light sensitive nature that changes.   So I scrapped that very very quickly, and cast around for inspiration ... looking hopefully for an early photographer or critic, and hopefully a woman, and Elizabeth Eastlake came very fortuitously to hand.

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