For as long as I can remember I’ve had a fascination with identity and the distinction between appearance and reality. I would definitely say that the subject matter(s) of my writing – all of it; everything I’ve ever done and am currently doing – is coming at this preocupation from different angles. It’s an ongoing project; the way people/things are compared to how they appear to be, or present themselves as being, or believe themselves to be. At the heart of this issue is the question of whether there can actually be ultimate truth about a person’s nature, or whether people just make themselves up as they go along.
Inspired by a good friend who’s inspired by Alain De Botton’s penchant for numbering points in a list, and thereby making musings seem a. cohesive and b. directional, I’m going to list some excerpts of the pontification which went on in my head during this morning’s shower. Some of them might, if we’re lucky, be relevant to the general purposes of this blog.
One of the coolest things about this job is getting to meet crazy, unconventional people who have urges to create art work which will last longer than them, and which expresses something about them and about how they see the world. They book particular models because they see that model in some way as representing or adhering to a world view or aesthetic which interests them. This is the interesting thing: the model builds up a portfolio/online presence representing the way she sees herself, or would like to see herself, or wants other people to see herself. There are layers of reality. It’s a creative, collaborative game. If it works well and the creative aims are in sync, the result is the expression of a joint world view, the capturing of a moment or story, which is an amazing thing. Reality is flexible, and inclusive.
I normally drive to my shoots, but occasionally, due to the quirks of geography and the national rail, train journeys actually work out cheaper than petrol. It’s funny getting picked up at the station by a photographer/artist who knows exactly what you look like and gives you a hearty wave, forgetting you have no idea what they look like (since most photographers don’t have pictures of themselves all over the internet in the way that models do!) and so are just smiling vaguely in all directions waiting to be recognised. I always find it interesting to discover what a person is like in reality compared to how they come across in emails/internet presence. It’s so easy to build up ideas of what people must be like when you correspond with them for a long time before meeting, and I imagine this is multiplied by a thousand in the case of models, who (hopefully) already show a lot of their personality through their images. Occasionally, people tend to think they know you more than they actually do, but unless you’ve heard a person’s voice, or seen their faces and bodies move (not just seen split-second captures of a passing facial expression), you don’t really. I once got seven E-cards in one day from a man who decided he loved me (I believe his unfortunate affliction was brief, however). That’s what the internet does to people, though – you have an intense availability of a person’s image, and you can imagine that you know them as a full person. I get excited when people are exactly how I imagined them to be in real life.
Integrity. I have never understood why people say things over the internet that they don’t mean and would not say in real life. This is only something I’ve witnessed rather than been involved in, but I remember reading things said on photography forums by someone who was repeatedly professing beliefs which were so at odds with mine (obviously that’s fine; makes the world go around, etc), but so ugly, arrogant and cruel, in my opinion, that I couldn’t believe it was real. This person then claims, in her defence, that she is nothing like her forum presence and is actually very nice in real life. Fascinating. Compartmentalising your personality; the new rage. Sounds quite knackering to me.
You are not what you say but what you do. I must sellotape this fact to my brain.
When I did my Masters, I was taught poetry by Jane Yeh, who is also a bit obsessed with the theme of representation and self-creation, ‘the nature of artifice, and of the self’. She has a hilarious (and excellent) poem written from the point of view of the owl which plays Harry Potter’s owl in the Harry Potter films. Not totally sure if I can copy it here, due to copyright, so please read it at: http://janeyeh3.com/somepoems.aspx. I love the last line: ‘Afterwards, you wonder what the glitter was for.’
Projection. I found these ‘behind the scenes’ snaps taken from a shoot with Colin (see blog entry from an earlier shoot here), by Ivory Flame, who I was modelling with for some of the shots. Funky, eh?