Response 5-6 – Position Statement – ‘Politics of Representation’

Position on Representation

I find that one of the more helpful things to do when approaching a new topic is to lay down some definitions and break down a concept into its key components. Photography is a powerful medium as it is often perceived as evidence in certain publication methods portraying an individual or community through photography and representing them to an audience brings up the potential for the abuse of power and the misconstruing of information. To determine whether or not the photography taking place is ethical in nature, it is important not to jump to quick conclusions but analyse all the information provided. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy states five key components of Political representation, these components are my current basis on which to consider when coming to a conclusion on where a picture would lie on some scale of morality; who is representing the subject, who is being represented, what is being represented, where is it being represented, and what is being omitted.

Leigh Daynes, a director of advocacy campaigns in the UK, wrote that ‘the public are telling us they are saturated with suffering, that we are charming or disarming them into acts of compassion, and that we are abusing their emotions.’ This statement makes me wonder, what is the best approach to convey suffering and inspire action in the saturated electronic age while avoiding controversy. It may have been said that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but in the era of callout culture having your ideas shut down before you even get your foot in the proverbial door is generally not a good outcome. Instead, it’s a good idea to provide your audience with the sense that agency lies in the subject, to gain their attention and potentially inspire action. In the example of a disaster victim, a story which demands action, it is important not simply to capture their affliction but also the potential of the communities and individuals to shape their future, with your help and support of course. My project is not intended to inspire action on such a large scale but despite this I still find it important to give my subjects control over how they’re presented in project works, I believe it creates a stronger connection between the subject and the audience and gives me more leniency in the variety of subjects I’m willing to photograph without feeling exploitive. I don’t believe this is necessary in all work, but it is a personal preference of mine.

Who is representing a subject is a point of representation I’ve always struggled with. Initially, I was a strong believer that everyone should be granted a platform but over the last few years I’ve seen a lot of vulnerable exploited by companies and organisations because they appear to be trustworthy has made me really reconsider the balance of representation in individual’s lives and contemplate weather or not systems should be in place to enhance the variety of perspectives provided to individuals. Colin Pantall stated that ‘the world is a multi-faceted place and multiple voices need to be heard’ – this quote honestly kind of made the issue of having the ‘white-male’ perspective dominate the photography scene make sense. The issue isn’t that the western perspective is being shared, but that is the dominating and alienating the perspectives of other groups. Instead of maintaining the western strangle on representation the world we should be creating platforms to allow less privileged communities to share their own position and tell their own stories. This benefits everyone involved, as it encourages individuals to do new things, rather than covering what we’ve already seen before. Tackling issues closer to home is likely to provide a more in depth understanding and lead to more impactful projects. In coming to this realisation I’ve made the decision to make my own project more personal, weaving the opinions of others on labels with my own experiences through the years with labels and how my opinion has changed over time due to these experiences.

Too often we forget one of the most important aspects when producing and releasing a creative work, risk. Producing art is unpredictable and difficult, when it is done wrong, weather on purpose or by circumstance, it can make risk seem like the enemy and make the safe option seem much more attractive. But when it is done right, when the balance between respectful representation and creative aspirations is found, it is beautiful, memorable, special, and powerful. A world devoid of such creations is bland and an artistic landscape full of copiers and imitators is not much better, these colourful larger than life experiences become part of who we are as people and it is crucial to continue creating them, regardless of the risk. It is everything, and it all comes from one thing, that one little spark of inspiration.

“Mediocrity is what fearful people will always settle for. Again, think of a pointless painting, one bad dot cannot ruin the painting,  you fix it and you move on. However, if people are afraid to take risks with bright and bold colours, then the entire work will be very dull and very bland. If you want to discover, inspired ideas you simply have to accept, that you will have to encounter more than a few that don’t make the grade.” – Michael Eisner

Bibliography

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejXfFI27mBE
  • https://witness.worldpressphoto.org/rethinking-the-ethical-judgement-of-photography-2b7042cbeae3
  • https://cpb-ap-se2.wpmucdn.com/www.photolab.org.au/dist/d/53/files/2019/03/Who-Cares-2nlnr1a.pdf
  • https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/political-representation/#Bib

Response 7: Project/Contextualisation Outline – Inhee Chung

Draft Project Statement:

People tries their best to live a life better. They sometimes make big decisions to abandon their life in their own country and live in a country where they do not know anything about it. Those big decisions are made with big hopes and dreams that it is going to be better life in another country. But I believe the frustration coming from the realising the dream is just a dream is a huge pain.

 

There are huge number of people who get less wage than a minimum wage. There was a big scandal with seven eleven that there were people who got $11.50 hourly and some of them got $3.5. After revealing this fact the operator got fined for $335,000. After this scandal people only care about the scandal and do not dig up the problems still happening around in Australia. But especially I wanted to talk and explore more about this problems happening around Korean community in Australia.

 

 

  • Why your chosen methods are appropriate to the issue under investigation:
  1. Taking photographs on the spot of the problem happening can convey more of reality feelings to the audience.
  2. Taking photographs of the phenomenon and consequences that people are going through caused by the problem can easily share feelings with audience what is actually happening to them and how they are suffering from it.

 

  • Which mode/s are employed
  1. Observational: I am trying to document it as a observant to convey the reality as much as possible

 

  • How you engage the ‘Political Ontology’ of photography
  1. Analyzing subject’s background
  2. Social issues
  3. Getting the permission from the subject

 

  • Sources you have drawn from (you need four for the Contextualisation).

 

  1. A third of Australia’s foreign workers paid less than half minimum wage – study https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/oct/29/a-third-of-australias-foreign-workers-paid-less-than-half-minimum-wage-study
  2. Minimum wage fact sheet  https://www.sureway.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Minimum-Wages-Fact-Sheet-for-Job-Seekers-1-July-2018.pdf
  3. Australia’s Uber drivers earn less than minimum wage
    https://www.ft.com/content/f9ce2cd8-d5c2-11e8-a854-33d6f82e62f8

Response 6: Position Statement – Inhee Chung

I believe the documentary photographs of famine, disaster, or any sufferings of life helped people to understand what is actually going on in reality in the area of what we cannot see it easily. People learn from photography and they know the reality through photography but that only happens when the photographer intents to convey reality, not exaggerated or faked informations. This is why politics of representation is very vital for photography.

 

I always believed in the power of photography and yet tried nothing to use that power except depicting beautiful things around us. After reading Pantall, Colin. Rethinking ethical the judgement of photography, I have more confidence to say that photography is more powerful than anything to persuade people. But there are always controversy about ethic problems to the images that made more audience and noticed. Colin Pentall states that “It sometimes seems there are so many ethical considerations that people find it impossible to make direct photojournalistic work. Think too little about the history theory and the danger is you make work that is unsound in many ways. “. I believe we should not care about ethical problems when photographer’s intention and position is ethically right. I know this is strong state and debatable state but I as a photographer believe that as long as we deliver fact and truths of sufferings without exaggeration that people cannot see it often and easily, we should stand strong.

 

I also had to think about what is out position on politics of representation. Is it just delivering the fact? or we make sure to persuade as many people as possible and make to act on it. by reading ‘Who Cares?’, I have deeper understanding of how people act not just by knowing the fact. The article ‘Who Cares’ states “People know, but they do not necessarily act.” and ” It seems that there is a gap between knowledge and action; between what people know about suffering and how they act and react. We know very little about this gap”. By knowing that existence of gap between the author and the audience, I felt like photographers should act on more to eliminate the gap as much as possible. but on the other hand photographer’s job is to convey the truth and the fact. Deciding wether to act on it or not to is totally up to the audience. Our job is to make the images more heart touching as much as possible.

 

My project is photographing Korean Community in Australia. Especially the ones that are getting paid illegally. I know that there are many people that they already know this illegal actions has been exist but not acting on it. I guess this is because there is a gap between the fact and the act of audience. I also think that this happens cause they only know it but have not seen it with their own eyes. I want to deliver reality of the sufferings of our own people in Australia.

Project Contextualisation Outline – Jake Nemirovsky

Draft statement

As a first generation Australian-Russian-Jew, my curiosity for how my heritage fitted within the context of Australia became ever more challenging to define. how does one reconcile this within a multicultural country (or one that seems multicultural)? Focusing on my grandparents’home and their surrounding suburb of Caulfield, I will employ the methodology of Visual Ethnography by exploring domestic landscapes and portraits as a means to communicate my own cultural heritage and how this has been hybridised. Weaving in and out of domestic spaces to show the connection and disconnect one might feel with their own culture, the work attempts to document a story and experience of a fading heritage, integrating family archives and stories to show nostalgia of my cultural identity.

After Australia was colonised 231 years ago, it saw waves of European migration especially throughout the 20th century. Following the second world war, concern for Australia’s shrinking population saw the slogan ‘Populate or Perish’endorsed by the Australian government to overcome domestic resistance to immigration. This invited many more migrants from mostly Eastern European countries who brought with them languages, customs, experiences and architectural influences, establishing the expanding Australian cultural identity during the 20thcentury. Now we see how the cultural traditions of first generation migrants are changing. Examining this experience through family archives, domestic landscapes and cultural spaces are a means of remembering and documenting the ever-changing definition of Australian identity, while also demonstrating ideas of belonging within a fractured culture.

Why your chosen methods are appropriate to the issue under investigation

  • Communicate the connection and disconnection one might feel to their own cultural identity – connect to photography
  • Attempting to archive a fading cultural identity -reinterpret archives
  • It encourages me to investigate my own culture and communicate with other people who migrated to Australia to further understand my cultural identity.

Which mode/s are employed

The method that I will employ will be a combination of participatory and observational documentation, as I intend to enter spaces and observe what is in someone else’s space, while also collaborating with my grandparents and others in the Russian/Jewish community. my practice will employ visual ethnography as a means to apply reflexivity and discussion to investigate what is Australian culture.

How you engage the ‘Political Ontology’ of photography

– giving voice to the ‘other’ by documenting my cultural identity.

– Azoulay’s Civil imagination sets forth that the photograph is merely one event in the sequence that constitutes photography and which always involves an actual or potential spectator in the relationship between the photographer and the individual portrayed. Similarly, the exploration of my families heritage is a commentary and a broad stance on the civic rights of those who migrated here, who may of once felt they were not Australian. The participation between my grandparents and other individuals in the community is another form of the spectator in this circumstance. Ariella Azoulay mentions, “The camera generates events other than the photographs anticipated as coming into being through its mediation, and the latter are not necessarily subject to full control of the agent who holds the camera” (Azoulay 2012). My investigation is further supported through its focus on these domestic landscapes and archives that are both about a specific cultural group, as well as much more than what is within the frame – it intends to promote a discussion or question regarding Australian culture and identity, a discussion that is not in full control of the photographer or the photographs.

-collaborating with subjects in an attempt to further understand our cultural identity and in turn returning the photographs back to the subject.

Sources you have drawn from (you need four for the contextualisation)

  • Pink, S 2009, Doing Visual Ethnography; Images, Media and Representation in Research,2nd edn, Sage Publications, London, UK, PP 31-129
  • Letic, L 2014, Between the Two, Australia.
  • Grant, L 2011,Belco Pride, Belconnen, Australia.
  • Brickell, K 2014, ‘Home Interiors, National Identity and Curatorial Practice in the Art Photography of Simryn Gill.’ Cultural Geographies, Vol 21, pp 525-532.

 

Position Statement – Jake Nemirovsky

I recently read the text Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes which references photography as having three emotions or intentions; The Operator (the photographer), The Spectator (all those who glance at the photograph) and the Target (the subject or object who is photographed). When considering the Politics of Representation, similarly I believe it should consider who the photographer is, the subject or who is being portrayed and the reasoning behind the representation, with the subject possibly being an individual, group, organisation or similar. By default, this process becomes a collaborative, socially engaged practice between all those involved in the photograph. As the name politics of representation suggests, it is always political. Political because most of the topics are revolved around communities or people who are in debate or consideration. In saying this, I see it not possible to pick just one side regarding the question of representation, as both Shahidul Alam and Colin Pantall demonstrate both the positive and negative implications regarding representation.

Pantall discusses the ease of ethical judgment that photography faces, especially of other people’s photography, justifying how it’s easy to do this, as there is no personal cost. Notably, Pantall references Willoughby Wallace Hooper’s famine image, which could be both read as exploitive or Heroic, acknowledging the consideration of both sides in the examination of representation “Rather than being a clear-cut case of, in crude polarised terms, being an exploitative image we should be outraged by, or a heroic bearing of witness, it was a little bit of both. Or actually, it was neither of those. It was somewhere in the middle. It was the beginning of a process, not the end of it”. Pantall challenges this by contesting how while we put forward all these ethical considerations into taking a photograph, it is important to also consider that your work may only reach a limited audience if to say you only considered the ethics behind the work. Ultimately, it is important to balance both the ethics around the image the photographer is capturing, taking into consideration the subject/who is being portrayed and the reasoning behind it as this will lead to a new process to evolve.

Pablo Helguera attempts to construct a pedagogic approach to social engaged art. Examining both the constraints and possibilities of art that is approached with collaboration between the artist and the subject, community or space for the purpose of social awareness. Helguera suggests that ‘collaboration presupposes the sharing of responsibilities between parties in the creation of something new’ (Helguera 2011) indicating that collaboration allows for the balance in responsibilities and the somewhat removal of the power imbalance apparent. Social engaged art promotes interactions in public space  and build connections through art and culture. Socially engaged practices serve as an effective catalyst in promoting meaningful relationship between the artists and others involved in creating a sense of place. The interaction between the artist and public space can be channelled into similar areas of collaboration to form more ethical practices of collaboration that considers the representation of the subject, community or space.

Taking into consideration the constraints and possibilities presented, it is important to explain the limitations of a project and convey these as early on as possible. While I have mostly taken photographs of spaces at this stage, when I have taken photographs in the synagogue, I ensured that I made contact to request access and explained what my project was for. Showing them the photographs after ensured that the subject (Synagogue) was represented respectfully and giving transparency of the work. Similarly, when photographic my grandparents’ home, it has been a collaboration through conversation, which revealed details about their space. The conversations allowed for visual details to be revealed and ensured that I could represent them in a way that they decided what to show. Moving forward, my plan for taking photographs of other subjects will focus on conversations and similar means of allowing the subject to reveal what they would like to show, considering how the subject would like to be represented. Working together on creating images within their own space will be another means of ethically representing the subject in their own space.

 

References

Helguera, P 2011, ‘Socially engaged art’. Jorge Pinto Books, New York, U.S.A

Pantall, C 2019, ‘Rethinking the Ethical Judgement of Photography’. World Press Photo, <https://witness.worldpressphoto.org/rethinking-the-ethical-judgement-of-photography-2b7042cbeae3>

Response 7 – Contextualization Outline – Luke Setaro

When a small family business closes down, it often goes unnoticed. We see the boarded up shop fronts, neglected and left to be blended into the urban landscape. We think nothing of these little institutions that might have given a suburb and a town its character and its sense of community. No one remembers the name of the business that was there, but we always forget the people or person who put their lives and income into that little business. These people are the small cogs in the giant machine that is the economy, filling in the gaps of employment and contributing a constant flow of revenue.  Closures are so wide spread and common; there is virtually no representation for the people who are affected by crippling debt and financial burdens. We leave behind these empty husks, these desolate ruins of place someone used to inhabit and live, now lifeless and another victim of capitalism, a system that leaves businesses in financial ruin and pressuring those who scrape by to lose everything

  • It’s the employees of a business who give life to a business and who carry its name, who give them food to provide to their families, but where do they all go after years of loyalty and with no certainty in their future.
  • Analysis of Jim Goldbergs “rich and poor” series, how the text gives context and strength to the image, relating to my series of the employees, connection to economic status and story
  • More research into area that I found the businesses in , History of European migration into area and how the mass closures have to do with older generation Europeans dieing off, contributing to the abandonment, along with suburb development?
  • Talk about the shame of a business closing, why would it be hard to confront a failure infront of a camera, sympathise with former owners? Why relatives and former empoylees are more willing to participate.
  • More research into abandoned business? Relate to Detroit? Video of amazon reclaiming closed down malls: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k53IDbtP-58

 

Expand on Azouley / Political ontology points:

  • The event of photographing these faces of those who worked or owned in these small businesses is protest against capitalism. The capitalist machine wants you to forget the little businesses and go to the big franchises where you send more money for poor quality product. Capitalism doesn’t care about creating a good consumer and seller relationship; where they care don’t see you as a statistic, but as another person
  • The civil malfunction is that the government doesn’t recognise the lack of support small businesses have, they only focus on the industries that contribute the most to the economy, that small businesses owners will come and go without notice. Writing the story down and accompanying it to a portrait of a family member of that business is a picket sign to the government, to the consumerist public, to show them that they are supporting the wrong people.
  • The civil discourse here is to show the audiences the stories of these people that have been forgotten, who deserve to have their story told, to show them that they worked hard until the doors closed on their businesses

 

Position Statement – Molly Burmeister – s3721600

Position Statement

By Molly Burmeister

When I am thinking about representation I think of words such as agency, understanding and collaboration. When discussing the question of representation it is important to understand that there are several groups involved in this process. The person who is creating the image, the group of people/the individual who are being represented in the situation and also the audience which views the images. When creating my artworks I have had to focus on ensuring that all members involved in the creation of the artworks feel as if it is a collaborative process and that they have agency over the images which are being taken and which images are used as the final products. In terms of representation within my own practise I have been focusing on female representation in photography and the way in which the female gaze has changed the way in which females are represented within photography and other forms of art. Typically throughout time males have been the ones to represent females but over time the movement of females representing others females has become popular and well known across the community. My practise has also involved dabbling in self representation and the politics of ensuring I am able to represent myself in a way in which I feel is appropriate and also empowering.

As discussed in Oliver Vodeb’s piece participative communication is important to ensure that there is free dialogue between all parties involved in the collaborative effort of being represented/representing other people. I have found that during my shoots I have been trying my best to ensure that there is open dialogue as to whether the subject feels comfortable and happy with both the setting and the images being shot of them. Through doing this my subjects have been able to tell me what they feel comfortable and happy with in terms of lighting, framing and the shots. Participative communication is essential when speaking of representation as in order to ensure that the content produced is as realistic as possible all people involved need to ensure that they are able to participate in conversations about the work to ensure the effort is collaborative. The point which stood out to me in his piece when he spoke about ensure we do “not seperate ethic from professionalism”. I agree with him as it is vital that ethics and professionalism are intertwined to ensure that (visual) communication is successful as possible. Creating a professional environment in which ethics can be openly discussed is important in ensuring that there is a safe space for participative communication to occur.

Laura Mulvey’s piece “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” discusses the way in which the ‘male gaze’ creates a sexualised representation of females, although this is directed at film it is evident across photography also. Mulvey states that “The image of a woman as (passive) raw material for the (active) gaze of man takes the argument a step further into the structure of representation” (page 67 Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema). The structure of representation being discussed in her writing is one in which a male is creating pleasurable and sexual images of women designed for a heteronormative male audience. The representation of females through the ‘male gaze’ is one which is driven by women being “glamorous, on display, sexualised” (Laura Mulvey Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema page 64), objects for men to look at for their own personal pleasure.

This toxic one dimensional representation of females is now being challenged by a term coined ‘the female gaze’ in which female photographers are claiming back agency over the female form in order to create artworks made by females, of females, for a female audience. As discussed, the male gaze has been used as a way to represent females for centuries but now a “growing number of female photographers” are “using their agency to shape how society looks at women”(Charlotte Jansen, CNN 2017). Women using their agency to reclaim female representation often challenges the normal way in which females are represented within society, particularly within the media. The term “The female gaze” is now commonly used by female photographers and filmmakers to reclaim the representation of females in the media. Female photographer Ashley Connor raises the point that “The ‘male’ gaze seeks to devour and control, and the ‘female’ gaze is more of a frame of mind”.

When looking at my own practise surrounding my project I have been using the female gaze as a way of creating a safe space in which my subject trusts me to represent them in a way in which they feel reflects their aura in the most accurate way possible. I have challenged the male gaze by creating photographs of females which focus on their presence in front of the camera without any distractions and excess props. By creating such raw and simple images I have created a female gaze which focuses on representing my subjects in a way which empowers them and leaves them feeling as if we have been able to not only create images but form a relationship in which they feel comfortable enough to interact with the camera in an intimate and personal way.

Bibliography:

Molly Gottschalk 2017, How the Female Gaze Is Changing Photographs of Women, Artsy, April 10th, Viewed 16th May 2019, <https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-female-gaze-changing-photographs-women>

Laura Mulvey, 1975, Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, 1975, Indiana University Press Bloomington and Indianapolis

Tori Telfer, 2018, How Do We Define the Female Gaze in 2018?, Vulture, August 2nd, Viewed 16th May 2019, <https://www.vulture.com/2018/08/how-do-we-define-the-female-gaze-in-2018.html>

Charlotte Jansen, 2017, How female photographers are deflecting the male gaze. CNN, 10th April, Viewed 17th May 2019, <https://edition.cnn.com/style/article/girl-on-girl-female-gaze-photography/index.html>

Oliver Vodeb, n.d., Socially Responsive Communication (Very short introduction), Viewed 17th May 2019, <https://cpb-ap-se2.wpmucdn.com/www.photolab.org.au/dist/d/53/files/2019/03/Socially-responsive-communication-for-Memefest-web-1-y1j03u.pdf>

Response 7 – Project Contextualisation Draft – Molly Burmeister

Project Contextualisation Draft

Draft Project Statement:

This project intends to explore female representation and the way in which females represent other females through the medium of photography. Through researching and exploring the female gaze I have been able to create images which focus on creating relationships with various females and capturing them in their own unique space. The subject. The female gaze is described as being emotional and intimate and involves a closer relationship between the subject and artist which I have attempted to imply in my images. These images focus on the subject and their energy, mood and features without being distracted by excessive sets, props and outfits. Through this project I have been able to make and develop a range of friendships which have enabled me to create intimate and stripped back portraits. I have taken portraits of a range of women who I have made connections with as well as women in my life who have shaped me to be who I am today. By including a variety of subjects I am able to tell a story of the way in which empowered females have helped me become who I am today.

Why are my chosen methods appropriate to the issue under investigation?

Portraits shot on location: Intimate portraits shot on location are appropriate as using the studio would create a very forced and commercial feel whereas when I am shooting on location I am able to use the natural light and create a space in which the subject feels comfortable and are able to be themselves without feeling the pressure to ‘perform’ in a studio which is commonly what happens.

Self portraits: Self portraits have been integral to the exploration of my idea and confirming the way in which I want to portray the women which I am photographing. Through experimenting and exploring various lighting and methods of shooting by myself I have been able to discover my vision and how I want my final photographs to look and how I want to show female empowerment.

Which mode/s are employed

  • Self Portraiture is a mode of photography in which using remote or self timer I have been able to capture an intimate portrait of myself
  • Participatory Photography in the sense I am directly engaging with my subjects and having them involved in the process of creating and choosing the images

How you engage the ‘Political Ontology’ of photography

  • “The camera was no longer just seen as a tool in the hands of its user, but as an object that creates powerful forms of commotion and communion” I find this quote extracted from the first chapter of Azoulay’s writing relevant as through my project I have been able to create forms of communion in the sense that I have been able to make friendships and connections with my subject which may not have occurred if it was not for my project.
  • “The photograph is a platform upon which traces from the encounter between those present in the situation of photography are inscribed” I engage in this as my portraits are evidently a direct reflection of the encounters in which I have had with my subject throughout the process of the creation of images

Sources you have drawn from

Laura Mulvey, 1975, Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, 1975, Indiana University Press Bloomington and Indianapolis

Ashley Armitage, Ashley Armitage, n.d., Viewed 25th March 2019, <http://www.asharmitage.com/>

Molly Gottschalk 2017, How the Female Gaze Is Changing Photographs of Women, Artsy, April 10th, Viewed 21st May 2019, <https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-female-gaze-changing-photographs-women>

Azoulay, Ariella. ‘What is Photography?‘ in Civil Imagination: A Political Ontology of Photography.  London: Verso, 2015. Viewed 20th May 2019

Response 7: Project/Contextualisation Outline – Phoebe Tavendale

This body of work was created with the intent to explore the diversity of labels we assign to ourselves and how they attempt to resolve the desire, or lack thereof, to convey our complex identities.

For almost a century researchers have been studying the cognitive effects of labels ___ (blah blah studies, blah blah not necessarily a good thing look at these facts) despite this they are a fact of life and its important to investigate the social importance of labels.

I am approaching idea through creating a series of portraits, ___ through collaborating with the subject in how they would like to portray themselves, fiddling around with lighting, posing and angles to best convey their desired appearance. I will then go on to pair these images with the the individuals response to the question “how do you label yourself?”

I believe that specifically the medium of photography creates an interesting interaction between the subjects and the viewer, enough to potentially inspire some self reflection. (insert political ontology, “bound to the manner in which human beings exist – look, talk, act – with one another and with objects” (p. 18)  trying to figure out how people believe they are and then thinking about how this may be influencing how they present themselves and how this influences how others view them.) desire to fit in the civil landscape and find a group… why such a strong desire to fit in..etc.

Previously I’ve created work investigating the contrast of ones private and public identity and how even the mundane morning routine can give tremendous insight into an individuals attitude as well as providing a look into the process of creating their external persona for the rest of the day.

While researching how diversity is explored in photography I stumbled upon  Sarah Deragon’s The Identity Project. This project is very similar to my own but with a focus specifically on sexuality and gender identity.

Past this initial presentation I’d like to continue to expand the series, approaching a broader range of individuals and gaining a greater picture of how we try and define ourselves.

Contextualisation Outline

  • Why your chosen methods are appropriate to the issue under investigation
    • It’s about creating a sense of understanding between the subject and the audience to what the subject wishes to convey about themselves, by using their own words, writing and working with the subject to create the portrait that best suits them I hope to bring attention to the issues around labels
  • Which mode/s are employed
    • Portraiture
  • How you engage the ‘Political Ontology’ of photography
    • “The ontology of photography that [Azoulay] seeks to promote is … an ontology bound to the manner in which human beings exist … with one another and with objects. At the same time, these subjects appear Azoulay, 2012).
      • Focusing on how individuals choose to present themselves as well as how they see view existence in the labels they choose and how they pose themselves.
  • Sources you have drawn from (you need four for the Contextualisation).

Response 7- Project Contextualisation Outline Sally Won s3702126

Kangaroos are a very controversial animal towards the Australians as they are an Australian national animal; however also pests to the citizens as they cause problems that discomfort them. Such as ruining their household gardens and farms, jumping it to the roads which scare the drivers, and very rare but also in occasions, popping out near the pedestrians and both sides being scared and horrified. Therefore, this project explores the dangers, accidents, and plans for the kangaroos on the west side of Melbourne, specifically Sunbury, as it is one of the developing areas on the edge of Melbourne. This project specifies on problems with the kangaroos near the roads by looking at the kangaroo signs on the streets, and also the kangaroo management plan as the land of their’s is being reduced due to land development. 

Photographing and documenting the paper works, the kangaroo road signs in Sunbury and the land development that’s happening is going to allow the audience to understand that we are initially “taking” their land and they have their rights to be respected. However, I would also want the audience to understand the inconvenience and danger the citizens of Sunbury are getting due to the effect of living with the kangaroos. 

  • Methods
    •  Documenting and researching is one of the effective ways for the audience to realise the pain of the citizens and the kangaroos as it is based on facts, and the audience can see the current situation. 
    • Talking to the coordinators and the councils based in the Sunbury region, it also gives reliable facts about the problem that they have and the conflict they are going through as they want to satisfy both sides of the issue. 

 

  • Modes 
    • Observational- as I am observing the urban growth in Sunbury and capturing/documenting the truth of what is happening with the kangaroo due to the development. 
    • Reflexive- Interviewing and getting different perspectives on the life with the kangaroo from the citizens in Sunbury and also the council with the complains and problems they are getting. Engaging the audience with my work and documenting the situation for visual. 

 

  •  ‘Political Ontology’
    • Exploring the rights of the citizens and the national animal 

 

  • Sources 
    • Hume City Council- Coordinator Land & Biodiversity: Damien Harrison 
    • Hume City Council- Senior Engineer: Joseph Ianni 
    • Government Department 2015, Department of Environment Land Water and Planning, viewed 22 May 2019, <https://www2.delwp.vic.gov.au>.
    • Melbourne.vic.gov.au. (2019). City of Melbourne homepage – City of Melbourne, viewed 22 May 2019, <https://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/Pages/home.aspx>. 

Response 6- Position Statement Sally Won s3702126

Politics of Representation is essential to photographers as the majority of the people in the world are convinced, educated, and interested by the photographs, which lead to the importance of how the images are presented and taken. As sometimes the audience does not give attention to how the image was crafted, why and the relationship between the photographer and the photograph, but only the event of the photograph. 

Photography is significant in the politics of representation according to the text ‘Images of Suffering’ written by Stanley Cohen. Cohen (2001, p. 169) argues that ‘the media scan events and places, decide what constitutes ‘news’, filter and frame the issues, contextualise the problem and set the political agenda.’This is due to people who are more attracted to the more extreme news, or that is popular among social media or news about celebrities. Cohen (2001, p. 172) ‘Even the visual dramatic land-mine issue captured little media attention until it became associated with Princess Diana.’ Media now controls what is “important” for news and what is not, which it is more difficult for journalists, and photographers to find a new information and go to the extreme by showing the “images of suffering” even though what is shown in the photograph may not be the truth. But only the fact that the media wants to know and see as it is more interesting. Due to this effect, the “truth” is more dramatised and exaggerated with some images produced, which then it becomes to the job of photographers to try and portray and mirror the actual event and the “truth”. Therefore, I think the politics of representation for photographers is to reflect the world and reveal and find the truth for the audience and allow them to understand the “real world”, that is not under the control of the power of media. 

The text ‘Socially responsive communication’ by Oliver Vodeb states the importance of communication to be socially responsive, and this is an essential matter for a photographer due to the politics of representation. It is vital for a photographer to have a good connection with the event happening in the photograph, what and who is in the photograph, and also the background story of it. This is due to the importance of “visual communication” as nowadays as media is a big part of our lives. “Culture jamming” is a form of communication where more of the community and broader public are included in the discussion, like such as protests (Vodeb 2011). As protests can be useful to convince and interest people due to large community holding an opinion with factors and strong points, this could be reflective and considered while photographing. For photographers to work with organisations and find elements and information needed, we have backups to prove our photographs, which makes them more reliable and convincing to the audience. Therefore, having a ‘socially responsive communication’ can be considered to be to part of the politics of representation for photographers as we are here to reflect the world with our cameras and educate and convince more audience and allow them to be revealed to the truth that is not edited and polished. 

Therefore, connecting my position on the politics of representation in photography with my project, I believe that documenting the truth is most important as it is what we will have to face eventually and avoiding it is just temporary. As the development of the rural areas is increasing, the truth is that the area for the kangaroos are now being reduced and there are no specific and precise plans for the future. As more citizens are engaged in the problem, it will be easier to solve with more voices which will be creating ‘culture jamming’. By documenting the process of urban development and the situation of the kangaroos, I am mirroring the world to the audience and allowing them to visit and face the case and increasing awareness of the problem. However, it is crucial for me as a photographer to document from all perspective and sides, as there are many voices; respecting and understanding the negative effect of living with the kangaroos, wanting them to be eliminated for the area as they are pests and the council in the middle trying to reduce the problem that is coming from the citizens but also to respect and protect the national animal. Otherwise, the story of the situation will become one-sided and may cause more problem than to support to solve, and my position in the politics of representation will not be made. 

Response Seven: Project & Contextualisation Outline Christina Tainsh

Around one in five Australians say they have experienced race-hate talk, such as verbal abuse
and more than one in twenty Australians say they have been physically attacked because of their race.

My project is to investigate the amount of Australian citizens still facing racism now in modern day Australia. Through mundane connections of portraits and adjacent images of a single sentimental hobby, art form or lifestyle, i am seeking to exploring the identity of Australia and if we have found the same correlating embodiment of identity.
Through use of words, i have included individuals stories, opinions and what would help our future for everyone. This series also brings subtle and confronting encounters that each individual has faced.

What are your chosen methods and why are they appropriate?

– To appeal to peoples humanity and make everyone aware and understand
– Use proof via individuals personal encounters, conflicts and thoughts on the matter
– Through portraits of each individual and an environmental or detail shot for each individual.
– Using exact detail words with 2 images for each individual will give a face and a name to the the story and use it as factual evidence to support my project.

Which mode/s are employed
observational photography.

How you engage the ‘Political Ontology’ of photography
– The political ontology is the aspect of racism and has been included through the portraits of individuals, encounters and who they are, standing bare to world so others can understand.
– Changing policies
– Changing the social and cultural identity.


Sources you have drawn from (you need four for the Contextualisation)

– The Visualization of Cultural Identity in Arranged Photography by Anne Troost
https://openaccess.leidenuniv.nl/bitstream/handle/1887/48132/Final%20thesis.pdf?sequence=1

– No Place for Racism, Human Rights Commission
https://www.humanrights.gov.au/our-work/no-place-racism

– Addressing Racism in Australia by Tom Calma
https://www.humanrights.gov.au/about/news/speeches/speech-addressing-racism-australia

– Why i am not talking to white people about race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
https://www.bloomsbury.com/au/why-im-no-longer-talking-to-white-people-about-race-9781408870570/

Response Six – Position Statement

Politics of representation within my project has been challenging.
Confronting racism and representing this has so many options.

In aiming to do something different and in seeking justice and awareness i am afraid i have boxed my self into a more victim/survivor label, where i am providing viewers a descriptive paragraph of individual encounters with racism and providing a single portrait. Maybe it is how i am receiving this and it might be different for a new pair of eyes, but i will need to include more political representation in to finalise this series.

My opinion in politics of representation is completely up to the photographers, their editors, but also to the viewers that are interpreting the representations given.
However, I do wonder, if we could sequence images better, and put more effort and emotion into telling the whole story and no just the aesthetic of a crisis, then we could truly do some justice for change. This is what i am aiming to achieve.

Response 7 – Project/Contextualisation Outline – Ben Droege s3717601

Project Statement:

This project intends to explore the area of Footscray, documenting the people and places of the suburb. One of the oldest and most culturally diverse areas of Melbourne, Footscray is the forefront for multiculturalism and history in Melbourne’s west. The large Sudanese and Vietnamese population offers a colourful backdrop to an already vibrant pocket of the city. I have documented the “everyday” person and their interaction with the area, whether that be shopping at the iconic market, selling produce on the street, or simply passing through the area. A culmination of portraits, street photography and street landscapes, my intention is to give insight into an area that is very unique to Melbourne, despite only being 6km from the CBD.

 

Why your chosen methods are appropriate to the issue under investigation

  • Communicate the types of people that are situated in the area
  • Illustrate the sense of community that exists in Footscray
  • Give insight into one of Melbourne’s up and coming areas
  • Show the issue of gentrification, balancing images of the old Footscray with the new one

 

Which modes are employed:

  • Observational documentary – I am walking through the street of Footscray and am looking for things that catch my eye. Although I am essentially intervening when asking for a portrait, I am not employing anything additional e.g. props, clothing etc. I am just asking for a few second of someone’s time to a take a picture

 

How do you engage the ‘political ontology’ of photography?

  • I feel the “event of photography” is important when considering portraits of strangers. I plan on providing no text to accompany the images, therefore it is up to the interpretation of the viewer to decide on what the photography is saying.
  • Why is this person at this particular location at this particular time? This rhetoric is a question I want the audience to ask themselves. Each individual may see an image differently, as the perspective as to what my subject is doing is entirely on how they see the image.
  • In my mind, I am partially aware of what is going on in the scene, but for a spectator, they won’t have the same level of knowledge. Therefore, the “event” is very important in my project, as for it to be a successful project, I need people to ask themselves this question.

Sources

  • Soth, Alec, Hampl, Patricia, and Tucker, Anne. Sleeping by the Mississippi. 3rd ed. Göttingen : London: Steidl ; Thames & Hudson [distributor], 2008. Print.
  • Stanton, B., 2015. Humans of New York: Stories. Macmillan.
  • Richards, Eugene. Dorchester Days. London: Phaidon, 2000. Print.
  • Weitzman, J. (2016). Episode 8 | Alec Soth. [podcast] Magic Hour. Available at: http://www.magichourpodcast.org/episodes/2016/12/28/episode-8-alec-soth-1 [Accessed 22 Apr. 2019].

 

Project + Contextualisation Outline – Eloise Coomber

Project Statement:

Stories My Mother Told Me

My grandmother’s house sits quietly next to the highway, with its curtains drawn. A childhood that sits between the pages of 1970’s photo-books and nestles itself into rotting park benches. A single town that holds birth and death all at once. Malls and hotels, high schools and fish n’ chip shops. A church slotted between two family homes. My mother speaks of the ocean; to sit beside, to dive into – a witness to the lives played out before it. Drive through and count the cracks in the road, the scuff marks on the door frames, names etched and sprayed onto the buildings. Trying to reconstruct the staging of certain memories; how did it look? A school lunchtime well spent, a sister that passes away too early, a hospital bed view, a silent playground.

 

Why your chosen methods are appropriate to the issue under investigation

  • Communicate the distance between myself and the gaps in my family history
  • Illustrate the sense of loss in my family, through archives
  • Give insight into the landscape of Geelong today and the personal historical sites of my family history
  • Show the issue of not communicating emotional issues t younger family members, the sense of history they lose.

 

Which modes are employed:

  • Poetic Documentary – I am decisively choosing where to take the images, and the type of emotion I want to convey (place and time), but I am not interrupting the scene in front of me. The mode is observational yet not impartial to the types of the images I am making.

How do you engage the ‘political ontology’ of photography?

  • Focusing on the “always unfinished nature” of the photographed event, I will not be over-explaining the locations that I am re-imaging. With minimal text and only brief instances of archival context, the images will be interpreted differently over and over again depending on the viewer.
  • Azoulay states the event of photography can “only be suspended, caught in the anticipation of the next encounter”, and I aim to communicate this through the physical nature of my project. By producing a zine, the viewer is asked to engage with the subject by taking the time to hold and see the image. The form of zine will change the pace at which my project is consumed, adding a physical nature to the anticipation that Azoulay outlines.

Sources

  • Bennett, E 2013, ‘Photographically unconcealing the crimes: Christian Patterson’s Redheaded Peckerwood and Heidegger’s aletheia’, Philosophy of Photography 4:1, pp. 47–71
  • burn magazine, 2019, Laia Abril – On Eating Disorders the Epilogue. [online] Available at: https://www.burnmagazine.org/essays/2014/11/laia-abril-on-eating-disorders-the-epilogue/ [Accessed 12 May 2019].
  • Laia Abril – Photographer, 2019,The Epilogue >Book. [online] Available at: http:// www.laiaabril.com/project/the-epilogue/ [Accessed 12 May 2019].
  • bombmagazine.org, 2019, Christian Patterson by Jacob Pastrovich – BOMB Magazine. [online] Available at: https://bombmagazine.org/articles/christian-patterson/ [Accessed 12 May 2019].

Response 6 – Position Statement – Ben Droege s3717601

I believe “Politics of representation” to be a set of moral guidelines outlining what photographers can and cannot do. Although it is entirely subjective depending on the type of documentary photographer one may be, it still loosely applies to all categories. How photographers depict others in a photograph will depend on entirely what type of documentary photographer they are (expository, observational, participatory, performative, reflexive and poetic). For example, an expository photographer whose intention is presenting an argument, may decide to depict someone in a negative way (depending on the context). In contrast an observational photographer may decide to not take as strong stance, and may shoot from the background, therefore altering how one is represented in the final image.

 

My opinion on “representation” is somewhat misguided. I believe it’s important to be aware of boundaries in a situation, or as Susan Sontag said it “an act of non-intervention”. But at the same time, becoming too concerned whether an image is ethical and will satisfy an audience can also be dangerous to producing a strong body of work. In Colin Pantall’s article “Rethinking the ethical judgement of photography” he analyses this idea, suggesting that if we are too strict with such guidelines, then we are presenting to “very limited audience.” thus impacting our practice. It is essentially up to the photographer on how they want to be viewed and where they want to draw the line. The solution he poses is finding a middle ground or neutral stance, where photographers can communicate an idea, whilst sticking to a code of ethics. He also brings up another interesting idea regarding who the photographer is and where they are from. This information does in fact change the context of the image as it gives the audience insight into how the photographer has chosen to represent someone. For example, a white western photographer taking portraits of famine sufferers in Yemen, (as Pantall has outlined) might be considered taking advantage of. The photographer knows at the end of the day, they can go back home and send the images off to a publisher in order to get paid, and there may be no real connection to the welfare of the subjects. In contrast, a photographer who is directly involved with a crisis such as a famine, whether that be due to their nationality or residency does change the context of an image. There is no longer such a power dynamic, and this photographer may be genuinely trying to provide a voice for these people, rather than get their work in a big magazine.

 

However, although this may be important from an audience standpoint, it is not the same for most media outlets. In today’s age however, this idea of a guideline is somewhat bent due to media needing images that will create controversy and encourage discussion. There seems to be less and less of what is ethical, and more so what will generate the most clicks, views or streams. Although a form of “politics” is still at play, it is often disregarded in favour of revenue. A media company will pay less attention to the photographer taking in the image, and will more than likely be more interested in how interesting an image is. In Stanley Cohen’s book “Images of Suffering”, he solidifies this point claiming “the media scan events and places…filter and frame the issues…and set the political agenda”. A media outlet will go as a far as they can without causing trouble in order to produce the highest quality story. Therefore this idea of “Images of Suffering” fits perfectly into what will generate attention. Cohen suggests that “human rights, aid, development” are all considered “foreign news” telling the audience that these issues are too far away for it to impact them, but is interesting to a viewer because it’s completely different to their own problems. Essentially they are using human suffering to their advantage, showing a disregard for any “politics of representation” in most cases.

In relation to my project, “representation” is so important considering I am shooting a street photography project. As part of my series, I am using a combination of portraits and candid street images to document the area of Footscray. As far as portraits go, although I am only including several images, it is important that I represent what I outline in my project statement. I am intending to show a general overview of Footscray and the people that pass through. Therefore it is important I include all genders, nationalities and a diverse range of ages. It would be unfair if I were to document Footscray, and only represent one demographic, when there are many different kinds of people in this area. Another example would be if I were focussing on the struggling parts of Footscray, e.g. abandoned housing, drug epidemic and homelessness. Although these are big issues and are worth documenting, it would be inaccurate if I were to say this is entirely what Footscray looks like. The reverse can also be applied. If I were to only show the gentrified parts of Footscray, I would not be representing the other half. Therefore it is important I have balance in my project.

Respones 7: Project & Contextualisation Outline_Shanice Chen

Draft project statement

Huawei is a large-scale technology company in China. Recently, many news reports that Huawei’s 5G mobile phone technology has attracted many countries’ disputes and banned the introduction of the country. The United States has pointed out that Huawei’s new technology is suspected of stealing state secrets, and United States said, It is strictly forbidden to use Huawei’s new technology to many other country. At the same time, there are also a few countries that want new technologies to introduce this new technology, which is of great help to the country’s development, so they chose to introduce the country.

My project is to collect news reports about Huawei’s 5G new technologies in various countries and make a detailed short film. It includes: a brief introduction of 5G technology, the background of Huawei, which countries introduce this technology, which countries are banned, and how Huawei respond the United State, the video will be create like a mash up ways.

What are your chosen methods and why are they appropriate?

  • Make it easy to audience who don’t usually follow the technology news to keep up in recent national tech news.
  • Technology political dispute
  • Why should countries ban new technologies
  • Legal control
  • Global policy

Which mode/s are employed

  • A chaotic short video
  • Research the more information from advertising, newspapers and videos

How you engage the ‘Political Ontology’ of photography

  • Collecting national policies
  • Photographic events: Considering the nature of the country and the nature of other countries, what will happen in the future.
  • Linking to the politic, photography about; current; recently
  • In the camera situation, the photographed event itself contains the potential penetration effect of the camera.

Sources you have drawn from (you need four for the Contextualisation)

  • US government is ‘ignorant of technology’, say Huawei bosses…, Twitter, viewed 16 April 2019, <https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/apr/16/spying-claims-show-us-is-ignorant-of-technology-say-huawei-bosses>.

 

  • Joint Media Release, 2018, ‘Government Provides 5G Security Guidance To Australian Carriers’, Journal of Evolution & Technology, viewed 23 August 2018, <https://www.minister.communications.gov.au/minister/mitch-fifield/news/government-provides-5g-security-guidance-australian-carriers>.

 

  • Christina Zhou, 2019, Huawei’s new 50x SuperZoom camera on its P30 Pro smartphone sparks privacy concerns, NEWS, 17 April, viewed 17 April 2019, <https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-04-17/huaweis-latest-smartphone-has-incredible-50x-digital-zoom/11004990>.

 

  • Reality Check team, 2019, Huawei: Which countries are blocking its 5G technology?, BBC NEWS, 18 May, viewed 18 May 2019, <https://www.bbc.com/news/world-48309132>.

Response 7_Senmao Lin

Draft Project Statement

The Australian Gold Rushes are what first lured thousands of Chinese to the country. At the 2016, there are 1,213,903 Chinese ancestry residents in Australia. Many immigrants entered Australia and bringing their own culture, so it has produced many multicultural communities. Box Hill is a suburb with many Chinese Australians, and it is full of signs of cultural integration.

I am very interested in this phenomenon of cultural integration, which silently affects every resident living in Box Hill. According to the data, Chinese-born Australians rank second in Box hill’s population, and many Asian restaurants and retailers in its shopping district. Chinese and English icons appear frequently in the same location. By taking a series of pictures of Box Hill, I will look through the reference to understand the collision behind this cultural fusion.

Why your chosen methods are appropriate to the issue under investigation

  • Holding a neutral point of view and analyse issue objectively (As a Chinese international student, I should take a more neutral stance.)
  • Be as close to the life of local Chinese as possible (The pictures taken are more convincing.)
  • Communicate with local Chinese, and do interview about culture integration (Get more information about investigation object)

Which mode/s are employed?

  • Aanalyze specific problems through pictures and text
  • Display photos of both Chinese and English elements to showing the culture integration
  • Social issues behind cultural integration
  • The influence of foreign culture on local people

How you engage the ‘Political Ontology’ of photography

  • Analyse motivation behind the subject in frame
  • Establish connection around images and the project of the investigation

Sources you have drawn from (you need four for the Contextualisation).

Jupp, James. “Chinese in Australia.” Oxford Companion to Australian Politics (2007): Oxford Companion to Australian Politics. Web.

Inglis, Christine. “Chinese in Australia.” The International Migration Review 6.3 (1972): 266-81. Web.

Ngan, Lucille Lok-Sun. Author, and Kwok-bun, Chan. The Chinese Face in Australia Multi-generational Ethnicity among Australian-born Chinese. New York, NY: Springer New York: Imprint: Springer, 2012. Web.

Li, Shi. “Some Reflections on How to Approach Chinese Culture.” International Journal of Asia-Pacific Studies 9.2 (2013): 1-13. Web.

 

Project Contextualisation – Sophie Garland

The state of women’s safety in the public space reveals a complex and ever growing discussion that spans across areas of focus that largely encompass our everyday. While the uncertainty towards women’s safety largely lies in more domesticated situations, women have historically been made to question their safety within the public space. And while these fears are largely reinforced by continued attacks and lessons taught from a young age, the urgency for this safety in the public space is widely sensationalised. For this project I plan on exploring these internalised perceptions of personal safety, looking at the precautions that we take in our everyday and the ways in which these fears that have become so normalised inherently effect our perception of our rights to occupy the everyday.

Photographing weapons and other physical methods of self defence and contrasting them with sourced comments and statements about gendered violence from social media, traditional media, film and television and educational examples I aim to visually explore the reasoning behind these fears.

Why your chosen methods are appropriate to the issue under investigation

  • The topic of gender based violence is very broad so specifying on the personal fear gives a more refined exploration of the issue.
  • Sourcing real stories and personal methods of protection gives a more genuine outlook upon the topic.
  • Using comments from social media, traditional media, film and television and education gives context to some of the reasoning behind the fear.

 Which mode/s are employed

  • Expository
  • Performative

How you engage the ‘Political Ontology’ of photography

  • The restricted role of the citizen; incomplete citizenship as a result of the threat of safety in the public space.
  • Political imagination within the way in which women wilfully prepare for attack.
  • Exploring the civic right to freedom of speech and the inevitable effects of violent statements.

Sources you have drawn from

  • Plan.org.au. (2016). A right to the night.
  • Cox, P. (2016). Violence against women: Additional analysis of the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Personal Safety Survey, 2012 (ANROWS Horizons: 01.01/2016 Rev. ed.).
  • That Takes Balls (2019) – Nina Ross
  • Civil Imagination – Ariella Azoulay
  • Pronesti, H. (2018). Unsafe in the city.

Response 6_Senmao Lin

Through the shooting of vulnerable groups, documentary photography leads more people to give more understanding and help to them, which can help them improve their life. Therefore, documentary photography always attracts huge amount of public attention; however, the ethics constraints of documentary photography has always been a controversy.

Through reading “Pantall, Colin. Rethinking ethical the judgement of photography”, I have a deeper understanding of the photographer’s position. Images are more powerful than arguments, documentary photography has a wide audience and strong persuasion, I don’t think ethics constraints should hold the high ground. Colin Pantall says, ‘It sometimes seems there are so many ethical considerations that people find it impossible to make direct photojournalistic work. Think too little about the history theory and the danger is you make work that is unsound in many ways. Think too much about the history and theory and you run the risk of hitting a photographic block or paying so much attention to theoretical considerations that your work is of visual interest to only a very limited audience.’ I think this kind of balance point is difficult to find, and excessive pursuit of the balance point may lose the significance of documentary works. However, many documentary works that are highly concerned by the society are often controversial. These controversial documentary photographs have made more audiences notice the social phenomena recorded in the works. At the same time, the debate on ethical issues in photography will contribute to the improvement of ethical standards.

Photography is selected of view by photographer, photographer may deliver their meaning or intent through images. Photographs should convey more accurate information and voice for more people. Photographers should not only consider publishers; they should create images based on reality. It is not the essence of documentary photography to pursue aesthetics blindly instead of explaining facts objectively. In Rosler’s article “In around and after thoughts (on documentary photography) “, I realized more profoundly that documentary photography should not decorate message, nor too much dress the subjects. This is the exploitation of the subject of photography, rather than an objective interpretation of the facts. It may deviate from the scope of documentary in order to cater to aesthetics.  As her said “To be fair, some respect was surely also gained for these people who had formerly been allowed few images other than those of abject defeat; no imagination … I prefer the cooler, more “anthropological” work of Adam Clark Vroman.1” (p182) Documentary photography should not be a political tool. It should not be arranged by politics, advertisements and publishers. It should objectively state the truth.

My project is cultural integration, I chose Box Hill as the shooting location because there are many Chinese Australian. I want to reflect my project through street photography, but the progress is not going well. My photo doesn’t look like the street because its over-fits the project. I’ll rethink the relationship between street photography and my project, and I’ll choose the most project-appropriate photo.

Response 7_ Shuran Yang

Draft project statement

One child policy is a compulsory policy by government. Government will through fines that are imposed based on the income of the family and other factors, if the family violated this policy. One child policy also brings many social issue, such as forced abortions, abandon children and gender equality. However, although people faced with this compulsory policy, which likes the tax code, there are always loopholes, there always have some people to revolt this policy (have more than one child).

My project is doing the past policy in china, which is the one child policy affected most Chinese. I used my family to be the examples, because they are the most ordinary family in china, so it will show the real situation under this policy.My parents have brothers and sisters, and each family has different situation under the same policy. Therefore, I will use their family photos and ask their thought about this policy, and what’s effected to them.

What are your chosen methods and why are they appropriate?

  • show the real situation of the most ordinary family in china under this policy.
  • Take a neutral stand in this project (Not use the poorest/richest people be example.
  • Showing the differences between one child family and more than one child family.

Which mode/s are employed

  • Explain the difference and situation for each family.
  • Using many old family photo to show the people under the policy.
  • Using text to explain photos and record their thought about one child policy.

How you engage the ‘Political Ontology’ of photography

  • social issue, such as forced abortions, abandon children and gender equality.
  • Exploring how people to revolt this policy.
  • Get the private permission of the photos of portrait.

Sources you have drawn from

China’s one-child policy itself leads to forced abortions

Mosher, Steven W. “China’s One-child Policy Itself Leads to Forced Abortions.” The Lancet 380.9853 (2012): 1558. Web.

Has China Outgrown The One-Child Policy?

Hvistendahl, Mara. “Has China Outgrown The One-Child Policy?” Science 329.5998 (2010): 1458-461. Web.

Analysis of China’s one-child policy sparks uproar

Hvistendahl, Mara. “Analysis of China’s One-child Policy Sparks Uproar.” Science (New York, N.Y.) 358.6361 (2017): 283-284. Web.

China’s One‐Child Policy and the Empowerment of Urban Daughters

Fong, Vanessa L. “China’s One‐Child Policy and the Empowerment of Urban Daughters.” American Anthropologist104.4 (2002): 1098-109. Web.

 

Post 7: Project & Contextualisation Outline – Cara Rixon

Draft Project Statement:

There is a long and complex history surrounding zoos, and throughout their forays into experimental enclosures, amusements and conservation, there has always been an undercurrent of consumer culture. The myriad restaurants, gift shops and object displays of animals for entertainment represent this consumption, and my project argues that as a result there is a contradiction in zoological organisations’ desire to have professional conservation credibility.

Using a mixture of archival images, text and photographs taken by myself, the audience is confronted with the mix of history and contemporary zoo context. Black and white archival photos document a past of small bare enclosures and unethical amusements, while black and white images of empty enclosures question whether the viewer is in front or behind the glass. Isolated phrases from conservation programs add to the impact, revealing the absurdity in the signage that calls for help.

What are your chosen methods and why are they appropriate?

Observational photography

  • Appropriate as can document the situation as it exists in the world, without altering the representation.
  • Unobtrusive, so can avoid any intervention.

Archives

  • Visual confrontation between the audience and the history of the zoos, forcing the acknowledgment of the pure entertainment of the animals through seeing elephant rides and small enclosures, increasing the potential of a reaction.

Text

  • Further communicates the objectification of animals and absurdity of many of the zoos initiatives.
  • By including isolated phrases from conservation programs, some of this absurdity is demonstrated.

Conversations

  • While the conversations I have engaged in won’t be visible in the final project, they have been a valuable and appropriate method to gain a greater knowledge about the issue from people in related fields or those who just have an opinion.
  • By speaking to these individuals and understanding their perspectives, I have a better view of the issue.

Which modes are employed?

Expository

  • Attempting to argue that there are contradictions in conservation programs in zoos and that it is a situation that deserves attention

Observational

  • Visiting zoos and photographing them as they exist in that time, not altering and influencing anything in the frame

Performative (interactive)

  • As I am trying to argue an issue, I have a bias, therefore there is subjectivity in my documentation.
  • I also am trying to evoke a certain response in the audience through a variety of emotions and appeal to their own subjectivity, with the far-reaching ultimate goal of affecting their perspective.

How do you engage the ‘political ontology’ of photography?

  • Investigating the rights of animals in a contemporary zoo context, including researching their right to life and rights beyond merely welfare
  • Exploring the civic responsibility of humans to care for animals they have made vulnerable and dependent, either through domestication or the extinction crisis
  • Challenging the regime of the zoo through exposing the control over the animals and the tension between consumerism and conservation
  • Examining the implications on citizens who subscribe to the institution through memberships, entrance fees, gift shop toys, food purchases, amateur photography of unwilling participants (the animals) etc.

Sources

Zoo and Aquarium History – Vernon Kisling

  • A history of zoological institutions, from private menageries to late 20th century, including an entire chapter on Australia.
  • Detailed descriptions of their conception and operations, such as descriptions of activities and enclosures.
  • Allows for a broad and comprehensive knowledge.

Animal Ethics in Context – Clare Palmer

  • Examines the ethics of the domestication of animals, as well as the moral responsibility humans have towards these animals, and the difference in perceived responsibility between domestic animals (lots of responsibility) and wild animals (very little).
  • The argument that domestication, including in zoos, develops a vulnerability and dependence on humans is very relevant.

Why Look At Animals? – John Berger

  • Another history on zoos, focusing more on the emotions of animal captivity and its impact, as well as descriptions and examples of enclosures, activities and early effects on the economy.
  • Communicates powerful visuals through text, which have the potential to effectively mobilise conscience.

Assessing the Role of Zoos in Wildlife Conservation – Andrew Tribe & Rosemary Booth

  • Critical analysis of what zoos can and have done for wildlife conservation, including both positive and negative descriptions, examples and evaluations for a rounded perspective.

The social and economic contribution of the zoological industry in Australia – V Beri, A Tranent & P Abelson

  • Scientific study on the contribution of zoos to the Australian economy, providing statistics, examples and analysis of zoo operations and their impacts.

Zoo Ethics – Jenny Gray

  • An initial understanding of modern zoos and the standards they should be achieving but aren’t, including a variety of ethical frameworks to model operations on and examples of conservation programs within Australia.

On Photography – Susan Sontag

  • Taking the phrase ‘collecting the world’ on page 3 to apply to the collection and objectification of animals by zoos and casual photography of zoo animals, and ‘mobilise conscience’ on page 17 to describe the role of photography in this project and in addressing the wider issue of representing and reacting to the contradictions of conservation in zoos.

Project Contextualisation Outline – Jack Cannon

Working Titles: Economies of Death, My Condolences, Sorry for your loss, Good Mourning

This project intends to explore the people, groups and industry that exist around death. Citizenship seems to end once our lives are lost, though there are laws and rules that apply to you even in death; people earn a living caring for and executing the rights of the deceased. I aim to use access as a methodology in which to reveal the normality of an otherwise taboo industry. From the reassuring tissue boxes strategically located around the rooms, to the infinite ways that your remains can be stored, burned or buried; these spaces are scarily familiar and foreign at once. I feel it is responsible, civically, to introduce photography to these spaces in an attempt to demystify them.

I will be looking at Bridgit Anderson and her work on a funeral home in New Zealand, Taryn Simon and her work: ‘An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar’ and Carol Jerrems and her work in the Royal Hobart Hospital where she was a patient, as exemplars.

Why your chosen methods are appropriate to the issue under investigation

  • Demystify a taboo industry
  • Communicate visually rather than verbally in order to foster dialogue that extends the boundaries of certain social restrictions
  • Question the privilege of access/knowledge; reveal the hidden
  • Photography has a historical relationship with death
  • Highlight the commonality of a socially isolating experience

 

Which mode/s are employed

  • Non-fiction storytelling
  • Embellished/lyrical/stylised

 

How you engage the ‘Political Ontology’ of photography

  • Question the privilege of access
  • Photography as a portal to sites that extend beyond the everyday
  • The camera changes situations, omnipresence; use slow techniques to collaborate/get more natural results
  • Sharing results as I work, returning images to the subject
  • Question assumptions about the industry and employees

 

Sources you have drawn from

  • Fernández, E.C., 2006. The language of death: Euphemism and conceptual metaphorization in Victorian obituaries. SKY Journal of Linguistics19(2006), pp.101-130.
  • Phelan, P., 2002. Francesca Woodman’s photography: Death and the image one more time. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 27(4), pp.979-1004.
  • Rosengarten, R. 2015. ‘ … and death I think is no parenthesis’: the aged, the ill and the dying in contemporary photographic practice. Critical Arts, 29, 58-72.
  • Walter, T. 1991. Modern Death: Taboo or Not Taboo? Sociology, 25, 293-310.

Project/Contextualisation Outline – Hannah Phemister: s3663853

Draft Project Statement:

The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.

-Maya Angelou

A home is more than a building. A community is more than a group of people in proximity. A home is a part of a person’s identity. A space to feel safe and loved, a place of sanctuary. It can be made up of a building. It can be made from things. It can be made from other people. It’s not important what it’s made from, it’s important that it exists for each of us.

Why your chosen methods are appropriate to the issue under investigation:

  • Exploring the theme of home is very complex, therefore a rather broad approach is essential.
  • It’s important to recognise there are many ways to define home, however trying to squash them all into this small collection of images would be too unrealistic, so I’ve opted to create a small focus pool, and work only to define those found within that.
  • I want to create an authentic collection of images, that are as honest as possible. For that reason, my method of being invited into the subject’s spaces, and documenting them in as natural a way as possible is key. I’m not trying to show something that isn’t there – I’m trying to capture the essence of home – and have found that often that involves pets, people, and objects.
  • Use of natural lighting, with some small levels of assistance where appropriate.
  • Minimal manipulation of images – some colour correction and touch up the most significant changes made.

Which modes are employed:

  • Documentary – observational qualities paired with selected perspectives, to infer meaning.
  • Depicting scenes with specific faces and objects, but shot in a way to intend a sense of anonymity, to make images and circumstances relatable.
  • ‘Straight’ photography.

How you engage the ‘Political Ontology’ of photography:

  • The project engages with the political ontology by exploring the photographed event, and engaging with the audience, to evoke sense and memories of home.
  • Expression of emotion: nostalgia and familiarity.
  • Visualisation of the social: personal, private insights to identity, that are not readily available to outsiders and strangers.

Sources you have drawn from (you need four for the Contextualisation):

  • Ariella Azoulay – Civil Imagination
    • Explores the political ontology of photography, links the work to the original themes of representation
  • Macgregor Wise – Home: Territory and Identity
    • Explores themes of home and territory – beginning step into the concepts of territory serving as home and identity serving as home
  • Joanna Richardson – Place and Identity: The Performance of Home
    • Exploring how you create a sense of home, whilst looking at cases of homelessness as a case study in the UK.
  • Tammy Law – Away From Home
    • Exploring notions of freedom, identity, assimilation, belonging and loneliness through a photographic research project, based on transnational lives of families from Burma.

Response_7_Dongchi_Liu_s3511092

The problem of people’s rights has existed from ancient times to today, and now the problem of people’s rights has existed between society and politics. Falun Gong, the subject of my research fully demonstrates this point, and the problem of Falun Gong is particularly prominent in China. For political or behavioral reasons, Falun Gong has been unable to gain a foothold in China. This directly led to the substantive infringement of the rights of the people of the followers of Falun Gong, forcing them not to return to their motherland, but to live in various countries in the world. On the issue of Falun Gong and Chinese politics, there are also their own positions. Official PRC commentary contends that the Falun Gong is not only committed criminal acts but also wilfully sought to undermine the rule of law itself. Human rights critics and agencies, such as the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, have, on the other hand, attacked the PRC for a “repressive legal framework” that threatens human RI rights. I will carry out my plan from the followers of Falun Gong who live in Australia. I will discuss the political relationship between Falun Gong and the Chinese government from a neutral point of view. I will also discuss the purpose of Falun Gong followers’propaganda abroad and their living conditions.

Why your chosen methods are appropriate to the issue under investigation

  • The relationship between people and politics is closely related.
  • Face-to-face contact can more strongly reflect the event itself.
  • Protection of human rights
  • More intuitive feelings
  • The feedback is direct and there is no interference from other factors.
  • Falun Gong is a sensitive topic, which requires many contacts and exchanges to gain trust.

Which mode/s are employed?

  • Street interview
  • Filming of publicity campaigns
  • Oral Consultation and Understanding
  • Recording and questioning from a neutral perspective
  • From the publicity materials given, books or newspapers
  • Network information

How you engage the ‘Political Ontology’ of photography

  • People’s right in Politics
  • Photographs taken by the camera and events catalyzed thereafter
  • Connecting it with political ontology and mass ontology extended by photographic Ontology
  • In the sensitive shooting state, the photographic event itself contains the potential penetration effect of the camera.
  • Looking at this event from a neutral point of view, in relation to ontology, what photographs refer to and what they see are never given.

Sources you have drawn from (you need four for the Contextualisation).

  • Leung, Beatrice. “China and Falun Gong: Party and Society Relations in the Modern Era.”
  • Civil Imaginationby Ariellia Azoulay
  • Keith, RC. “The “Falun Gong Problem”: Politics and the Struggle for the Rule of Law in China.”
  • Keown, D. “Falun Gong.”
  • Cheung, Maria. “The Intersection between Mindfulness and Human Rights:The Case of Falun Gong and Its Implications for Social Work.”

Response 7 – Project Contextualisation – Ryley Clarke; s3635888

Draft Project Statement

The destruction of the natural environment, has always been a problematic social and political issue, now more than ever, we’re facing the threat of a ‘climate emergency.’ Every second, forests are torn apart, coal is burnt, drills are dangerously torn into the oceans seabed. The current conflict between man and nature, the citizens and government is growing, relentlessly, Climate Change and environmental concern has become the defining issue of my generation.

Young citizens are standing up, contesting politicians of what the state of the world will be in ten-fifteen years time if we don’t take action now. Born out of concern and anger for the planet’s future, my final project civically focuses on nature’s current fragile state, by attempting to question and speculate the future, this work creates a dire examination of the present and the future, urging citizens and politicians to take consideration and care about the state of our planet. This work creates a moment, in which nature’s current state is contemplative, and speculative of what the future may hold…

Why your chosen methods are appropriate to the issue under investigation

  • Avoiding tropes of disaster imagery and notions of the romanticism movement 
  • Trying to find a language that expresses my concern for the environment in an attempt to avoid ‘fear-politics’ or ‘disaster like imagery’ by focusing on the current state of the climate/nature in it’s current fragility 
  • My chosen approach attempts to question the current state of the world, and our politicians, who are still continuing to ignore the scare of the public surrounding the issues of climate emergency
  • Focusing on a poetic nature 
  • Humans connection to nature; nature being inseparable from nature, we rely on it
  • Using the landscape as a metaphor I aim to express concern through this, arguing that what is at stake will impact our own lives in numerous ways.

Which modes are employed 

  • Poetic documentary;
  • Emphasising visual associations, tonal or rhythmic qualities, description, and form.
  • Moves away from the ‘objective reality’ of a given situation 
  • Experimental/avant-garde filmic approach 

How you engage the ‘political ontology’ of photography

  • Challenging the ideas of the regime who are ignoring the will of the public / civic action 
  • Regime made disaster; environmental crisis destruction of the natural environment 
  • Attempting to express concern; by creating a visual language that is consistent to nature’s current state; reframing concern for nature by focusing on a ‘poetical, magical, but fragile’ framework
  • Linking it back to the civil; traces of human destruction or evidence of footprints, rubbish
  • The event of photography: questioning/contemplating the current state nature is within and speculating what the future will hold 
  • The photograph; the current; questioning the future
  • The photograph’ and the environment within it’s present state (hypothetical presence), and, how this will be seen and transpire within the context of whether Climate Change will affect our planet in the future (hypothetical existence)… 
  • Offering the audience a moment of what we could be saving

Sources you have drawn from (four different sources for your contextualisation)

  • Speculative Ecologies by Rachel Carson
  • The Natural Contract by Michael Sierras 
  • Civil Imagination by Ariellia Azoulay
  • Beyond the Image and Towards Communication: An Extra Disciplinary Critique of  the Visual Communication Profession by Oliver Vodeb
  • Perspectives on Place: Theory and Practice in Landscape Photography by Jess Alexander 

Artists to talk about in my Contextualisation: 

  • Katrin Koenning 
  • Peter Dumbrovskis 
  • Edward Burntynsky 

Position Statement – Hannah Phemister: s3663853

A home is more than a building. A community is more than a group of people in proximity. Representing people in the way they wish to be seen, and see themselves, is essential to creating an authentic and honest representation.

The politics of representation is an engagement, that concerns the person behind the lens, the subject, the lens itself and the audience of the resulting image. It is a delicate balance, and essential to consider the various power roles in play within the world of photography. The importance of this point relates back to Ariella Azoulay’s ‘event of photography’, and the connotations attached to the relationships being observed and created. The importance of allowing the subject to have agency of self, as well as ensuring there is sufficient understanding of intent, cannot be dismissed.

This project is concerned with the concepts of home and identity. Notions that simply cannot be explored or developed thoroughly, without first addressing the question of representation, and considering how the balance and display of power, will all turn out. The themes of home and identity in terms of representation are explored in a number of ways. In an article by J. Macgregor Wise ‘Home: Territory and Identity’, it’s realised that without the subjects of territory and behaviour, it is impossible to have a full discussion on the idea of home. (Macgregor Wise, 2010).

Macgregor Wise uses the concept of behaviour as a describer for ‘home’, in an example taken from Gilles Delese, and Felix Guattari, which discusses a child singing to themselves, to comfort oneself when in the dark and afraid. (pg. 311, 1987). Elaborating, it recognises how as humans, much of our behaviour is done out of a need to self-comfort and secure, which is a learned behaviour, and can be from anything as simple as creating habits, or performed body language. Macgregor Wise goes on, to state that “…{home} it is not the place we ‘come from’; it is the place we are.” (pg. 4, 2010).

This theme, as well as personal experiences, has led down a path, differing from the originally intended project direction. The project now hones in on themes of home rather than community, and is in a sense, an exploration of the objects and beings that create a space of ‘home’. This theme is a powerful insight into an individual, and a very personal thing to share. For some, it may be no great deal to invite strangers into your space – which is essentially a physical visualisation of self. Yet for others, it can be daunting at times, and difficult to share this piece of oneself. A piece, that is a part of your identity and territory, and essentially is an extension of you; how you want to be seen or represented.

Having a space or sense that serves as a home is essential to mental health in particular, but also can have an affect on physical health. Having that knowledge and security of a space that is your own, allows for greater expression of self, and confidence. In an article published by Science Direct, the positive effects of home environments when dealing with cancer patients is explored. It’s realised that when patients are able to maintain a sense of normality, be in their own home, around their families, and perform normal, daily activities, it is possible to avoid their loss of identity. (Cuchin, la Cour & Maersk, 2018).

For this reason, this project focuses on recognising some of the things that create a space of home. It does this through an exploration of spaces of both individual apartments within the chosen complex, environmental portraits, and exterior images. The intention is to define some of the ways home can be identified, and recognise that though we are all so different, we all have these links and ties to territories and possessions, which allow us to provide ourselves with safety, and identity of home.

 

Bibliography:

Cuchin, M.P., la Cour, K & Maersk, J.L. 2018, ‘Identity and home: Understanding the experience of people with advanced cancer’, Science Direct, vol. 51, pp.11-18.

Delese, G & Guattari, F, 1987, A Thousand Plateaus, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

Macgregor Wise, J, 2000, Home: Territory and Identity, Cultural Studies viewed 3 May 2019 <https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/095023800334896?needAccess=true>.

Response 6: Position Statement_Politics of Representation_Shanice Chen

Currently, I have a certain understanding of representative politics and have established the moral society and political method of representative politics. Political representatives must consider different ways of using the term. Political representation enables citizens’ voices, opinions and opinions to be “presented” in the process of public policy making. Political representation occurs when political actors speak, advocate, symbolise, and act on behalf of others on the political stage. Political representation does not exist in my current project. I use in different way to complete my topic by collecting the news from the global website, an Australia newspapers and photos of recent years. Through use the internet web to create my own video or article and collecting interesting pictures from the news, for example: ABC news about Huawei new technology to create my own article for the audience.

For the example, Socially responsive communication, by Oliver Vodeb, Participative communication derives from the concept of creating contents and meanings in communication practices within a community. Oliver Vodeb said in the text, participative communication has a characteristic of dialogue in the sense of (also technologically represented) common rearticulation of social reality in the process where image surrenders its place to discussion, and its medium is free association through intimate communication channels. In the process of abandoning the discussion of images, participatory communication has the characteristics of dialogue (technically and representative) of the common reorientation of social reality, and its media is freely united through intimate communication channels. I agree with this view. As he said, it is also technically representative. In a society that is constantly changing, we use media communication to expand larger technologies, and it will also cause conflicts between society and their dissatisfaction.

This is about the Photojournalism, Documentary, and the Citizen, Bending the Frame, by Fred Ritchin, addresses the new and emerging potentials for visual media to impact society. The fixity of paper-based media necessitated a photographic reportage characterised by gross oversimplification: a story, of any degree of complexity, would necessarily be reported with perhaps one but certainly no more than a few photographs, and editors naturally sought out those images that told the story most clearly. “Rather than attempting simply to imitate previous media while offering an increase in inefficiency, digital media,” Ritchin argues, must “eventually involve a more flexible, integrative ‘hyper-photography’ that takes advantage of the many potentials of digital platforms, including links, layers, hybridisation, a synchronicity, nonlinearity, non locality, malleability, and the multi vocal. (p57) ” The older paradigm for photojournalists was to simply record events, with the hope—and frequently the expectation—that people and their governments would be moved to respond to the injustices pictured, as witnessed by the impact of certain images during the Civil Rights movement, uses of video, and a diverse range of books and exhibitions. (caa.reviews)

My project is about Huawei new technology, I’m working on the global policy about should be ban the 5G technology or not and what the countries think about this, by collecting the interest pictures from newspaper or images from the article, combine all the reference into a short video. The fixed nature of paper media requires photographic reports characterised by oversimplification. Therefore, I have collected the online news materials about Huawei’s 5G technology and other countries’ views on this as my theme. In addition, I will also talk about how Huawei views the United States. It announced that Huawei has stolen state secrets and social commentary. Socially responsive social communication, Critical discourse, in the field of continuous testing of friction, innovation, change and communication concepts, is constantly evolving and changing, and there is a production conflict between them.

 

 

 

Response 6 – Position Statement – Luke Setaro

When a small family business closes down, it goes completely unnoticed. We only see the boarded up shop front, neglected and left to be blended into the urban landscape. We think nothing of these little institutions that might have given a suburb and a town its character and its sense of community. No one remembers the name of the business that was there, but we always forget the people or person who put their lives and income into that little business. These people are the small cogs in the giant machine that is capitalist democracy, filling in the gaps of employment and contributing a constant flow of revenue to the high demands of the government.  Closures are so wide spread and common; there is virtually no representation for the people who are affected by crippling debt and financial burdens. The event of photography brings light to these people that are swept under the rug of large corporate businesses and the demands of a capitalist society. It shows the product of a regime made disaster, a super competitive market that heavily taxes businesses, with unrealistic financial expectations that force businesses into debt. It leaves behind tens of thousands of people with loans they can’t pay off and little assets to sell in order to pay their debts.

In Nezaket Tekin’s article ‘the fate of abandoned places in the hands of artists’, he talks about the idea of abandoned businesses “fading into the urban landscape, being forgotten and replaced, without anyone noticing who was there before. It’s the artist that changes ownership of the empty place.” (Tekin, 2015).  The story is forgotten, the fact that people don’t care for those who couldn’t pay their debts, who struggled to put food on the table, which actually cared about their businesses success and their drive to make it succeed. It’s the government and the consumerist attitude that makes us forget about these people, where they are easily replaced, that you can get similar goods and services elsewhere, for possibly cheaper and more quickly. In Stanley Cohen’s “Images of Suffering”, he brings forward the point that “human suffering is a commodity to be worked on and recast ( Cohen, 2001). It’s the fact that honest hardworking people are replaced by either a franchise business, last residential complexes or just simply left there for no one to vacate. The people who endure to keep the business open have long since forgotten that their hardships and sacrifices were for nothing, that they were casualties of a system that doesn’t support the little man.

The event of photographing these faces of those who worked or owned in these small businesses is protest against capitalism. The capitalist machine wants you to forget the little businesses and go to the big franchises where you send more money for poor quality product. Capitalism doesn’t care about creating a good consumer and seller relationship; where they care don’t see you as a statistic, but as another person. The civil malfunction is that the government doesn’t recognise the lack of support small businesses have, they only focus on the industries that contribute the most to the economy, that small businesses owners will come and go without notice. Writing the story down and accompanying it to a portrait of a family member of that business is a picket sign to the government, to the consumerist public, to show them that they are supporting the wrong people. The civil discourse here is to show the audiences the stories of these people that have been forgotten, who deserve to have their story told, to show them that they worked hard until the doors closed on their businesses. From one thing I’ve learned working for most of my life, it’s not the long hours and the work you remember and leave behind, it’s the people that make it all bearable and worthwhile. That’s what separates small business from capitalist and large corporate businesses; it’s the hardworking middle class people and their families.

 

Bibligraphy

  • Cohen, S., 2001. States of denial. 2nd ed. Oxford, United Kingdom: Wiley
  • Nezaket Tekin. (2015). Shot to Death: The Fate of Abandoned Places in the Hands of Artists. Kultura (Skopje), 5(9), 133-140.