Lisa Gerrard and Hans Zimmer’s Now We Are Free is playing almost inaudibly as I am trying to make sense of my ideas, thoughts, and hesitations towards committing these things to a blog post, yet this Gladiator hit still manages to resonate with me. I must admit, Spotify does an incredible job at compiling playlists that seem to illustrate my mental states with such ease on every occasion.
I am currently exploring ideas of homesickness and belonging for my ‘Sense of Place’ project and Gerrard and Zimmer’s song epitomises (in my opinion, anyway) the way in which I am feeling at this moment in my existence, following my move to both Brighton and to study in higher education, my transition from teenager to adult, and the embarkment on a newly discovered freedom from an old life of restriction. My lecturer has emphasised on many occasions the importance of this project as being a personal experience, and this approach is one that has been weighing on my mind since the brief was first delivered to me. I, therefore, feel that I have been confronted with a great task and responsibility in exploring the struggles that I am facing right now through photography, in an honest and raw fashion, because what is more personal than that?
I stumbled across an article on https://www.brainpickings.org which discusses Eric. G. Wilson’s Against Happiness: In Praise of Melancholy (2008) from a creative perspective, exploring how ‘the modern happiness industrial complex seems bent on eradicating this dark, uncomfortable, but creatively vitalizing state’ (Popova, 2016). This source kicked my brain into an inspirational overdrive as it considered ideas of ‘unease’, ‘agitations of the soul’, and ‘the value of sadness’ – concepts which I aspire to communicate through my photographs in my exploration of loneliness, vulnerability, and a yearning to belong. Popova states, ‘I am also of the firm conviction that access to the full spectrum of human experience and the whole psycho-emotional range of our inner lives — high and low, light and darkness — is what makes us complete individuals and enables us to create rich, dimensional, meaningful work’. Taken in a very literal sense, this idea encouraged me to consider light and darkness in my photographs, and the atmosphere I could create through the manipulation of these natural phenomena. Below you can see Steven’s Room, an incredibly spontaneous photograph, taken in the bedroom of one of my flat-mates, as his beautiful south-facing bedroom (in contrast with my cold, north-facing one) was filled with light and warmth, illuminating his Gay Pride flag in such a way that could not have been anticipated. I aim to build on this spontaneity throughout this project and allow myself to become ’emotionally in-tune’ (as my lecturer described it) through interpreting light and composition in this way.
Appropriately, Lily Zoumpouli’s photographic work has begun to greatly influence my own. Her Discolouration project is breathtakingly raw in the self-documentation of her life, her environments, and the people around her. She discloses;
‘In order for me to photograph something or someone, there has to be a sense of connection. Creating an atmosphere between them and me so that the final outcome will display parts of us. A mix of selves into one image.’ (Zoumpouli, 2016)
Zoumpouli’s candid photographs combined with her manipulation of natural light instills a great emotional response to her work, in my opinion. She seems to effortlessly portray her experiences through self-documentation, whilst maintaining an air of mystery which, to contradict, also appears to be incredibly revealing. Jim Casper describes her photos as holding ‘a sense of discovery’ and ‘a bit of self-consciousness’ (Casper, 2016) which is what I aim to establish within my own work. Subsequently, I have been experimenting with aperture and shutter speeds (completely new concepts to me) to create restless, unprocessed photographs as works in progress towards documenting my own life and ‘sense of place’.
Casper, J. 2016. Discolouration. In: Lens Culture. [online]. At: https://www.lensculture.com/articles/lily-zoumpouli-discolouration?utm_source=fb-social&utm_medium=social&utm_content=ART-194&utm_campaign=ET16-ART&utm_term=ET16#slide-12 [Accessed 23 October 2016].
Gerrard, L. Zimmer, H. 2000. Now We Are Free. In: Various Artists, Gladiator: Music From The Motion Picture. [Spotify]. London: Decca Records. Track 17
Popova, M., 2016. In Praise of Melancholy and How It Enriches Our Capacity for Creativity. Brain Pickings. [Blog]. Available at: https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/11/28/against-happiness-melancholy-wilson/ [Accessed 23 October 2016]
Wilson, G. E. 2008. Against Happiness: In Praise of Melancholy. USA: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux.
Zoumpouli, L. 2016. Elephant Chest. [photograph]. Available at: 0b94cccd-c0c7-42e2-ac5e-308bf5ea9ce5.jpg [Accessed 23 October 2016].
Zoumpouli, L. 2016. Christos Green Eyes. [photograph]. Available at: 0c352a4c-f1cf-4661-9f26-048fc8c05911.jpg [Accessed 23 October 2016]