3.3 Developing content: Love and other Islands

For this project I chose the image and caption option.

Using the principles of collage, juxtapose a series of images and captions. The images could be photographs, illustrations you’ve created yourself or found material. You could take the captions from existing sources or develop them in response to the images. Try and develop work that makes the most of the collision between what is shown and what is said. You can play this for laughs, political subversion or work in a more open-ended way.

I looked through the examples of different approaches in the course guide, see links to my notes in the righthand menu on this post.

NOTE I am planning to do a lot more work on collage and bring my thoughts together in a new Sketchlog/pdf analysing the different approaches to juxtaposition of images and image and text as part of my work on Cambridge in Assignment 4.

In the images below I am most inspired by Baldessari and Ruscha.

Collage takes things from here and there and puts them together. “Collage is when two things don’t go together too easily. If it’s right there’s a kind of tautness there that if you pull them apart any further it’ll snap. If you get them any closer it’ll be just flabby. But if you can get it just right it’s terrific.” John Baldessari

They are all photographs from St Ives, broadly around themes of love and relationships. They were not taken explicitly for this project and some I think are better without a caption as a sequence with other purposely taken images in a photo book. That said, the exercise and work of the other graphic designers has made me think about my photography in a broader way, with potential for a range of ambiguity of meaning that could be suggested by different captions. This would be particularly useful in more political work to avoid being too direct, and leaving meaning more open to interpretation by the viewer.

Series 1 Say it With Flowers: Calla Lilly

I thought this project would be a good place to explore the mix of visual imagery (particularly sexual), stereotype and arbitrary convention and the ways in which these are used and promoted in advertising. The first series experiments with image colour and style together with typeface to produce different interpretations of the same image – tongue in cheek versions of conventional floral greetings cards. My starting point was a photograph of a Calla Lilly – a very common flower in gardens in St Ives – and one I had used for linocut design.

I started by looking at the Teleflora website which explained: ‘During the Victorian period in the 19th century, there was a flower language boom that meant certain flowers were associated with expressing particular feelings. That means that sending someone a bouquet delivered a very specific message based on the flowers’ meaning. There was no need for words – the recipient could decipher the intended message merely by the blossoms chosen and the way they were arranged.’  Under Calla Lilly I found the following:

the name comes from a Greek word ‘kalla’ for beauty. It is also known as the pig lily, trumpet lily and arum lily. “The exquisite calla lily is an appropriate flower for any occasion that involves major transitions, rebirths and new beginnings.” Used at weddings as traditional symbols of divinity, marital bliss and true devotion, and the calla lily marks the 6th wedding anniversary. Used at funerals they represent sympathy and the purification of a departed soul. https://blog.teleflora.com/what-do-calla-lilies-represent/

This series started with a pretty conventional floral card, ending with something more enigmatic and sinister. I like the dark graininess and sexualised ambibuity of the final version – reminiscent of animations like Pan’s Labyrinth.

Series 2 Love Lost

The second series is based on a photo of a slowworm that someone had rescued along the Coastal Path – it had shed its tail to escape from a crow. The photo prompted a range of possible symbolic interpretations. It was the snake that the Bible blamed for the fall of Eve. The hand is lovingly cradling the slow worm and keeping it safe. But the worm’s missing tail is still bleeding.

The first image is again a somewhat conventional card which might just prompt some questioning about the nature of love. Having experimented with different formats and styles, I decided I prefer the greyscale image, with a text caption ‘Love’. This is a sad image – removing the text shows the slowworm with a frightened face, somewhat pleading. I find this simple textless image more powerful with its ambiguous connotations provoked by the simple title.

Series 3 Love islands

This third series of images started with text overlays and all entitled ‘love islands’ as a series. But again I preferred them with captions. I also varied the captions to make them less obvious.

Love Island emphasises the loneliness and insularity of many people on holiday.

Wish You were Here gives more ambiguity about the relationship/s of these two people than the original ‘Love Island’ title.

‘Reflection’ creates ambiguity with the text on the sign.

But possibly I prefer these as untitled photos as part of a photobook about relationships on holiday. I have other photos that could be added eg the images from the synchronicity series. But ideally I would go back and base the images on more detailed observation of the people over time. I also need to consider privacy issues if I wanted to publish them. Alternatively I could make them into illustrations and/or disguise the faces.

Series 4: Synchronicity

Synchronicity is defined as: the simultaneous occurrence of events which appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection. It has Jungian and New Age connotations. It occurred to me as quite an interesting pseudo-scientific envelope for thinking about the potential relationships and connections between unconnected elements in a snapshot. The photos below are possible examples of such snapshots and this is again an idea I would like to take further.

Series 5 Wisdom of Gulls

I am interested in the ambiguity of anthropomorphic representation of birds and animals.

Last laugh

I am fascinated by the ways in which stones and rocks along the Coast Path suggest stories and animals. Particularly when photographed. More than other places I have been. Something about the granite and the light. This image reminds me of a god laughing – maybe he has the last laugh as one of the few things that might survive the predicted global warming and apocalypse.