Assignment 3 - Images

In this post I'd like to show which images and formats I have used for my final work and why. I'd like to start with the overall presentation of the images. At first I was thinking of creating a pdf book that had the same style as my diaries, a notebook with yellowish paper and lines. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realised that I want this work to have a reflective character with a focus on the ideas and emotions I went through as a child and not so much on the on the secretive, day to day writings in a diary. Besides that, I want the work to have a postmodernist effect in the sense that it opens up to different, personal interpretations of the visual and written information. Like the reader says that the images  'allow the reader to put themselves into the story, with their personal histories and memories playing an important role in how the narrative is read'. 

However, I did want to show that the lines and photographs are personal and represent me in a way. That's why instead of typing the text below the images, I have written it on my Wacom table. My handwriting is terrible anyway and with the added clumsiness that writing on a Wacom tablet brings, it looks almost exactly the same as when I was a teenager. Now the images still have the feeling of coming from a journal or personal notebook.

When looking at Duane Michals images I found that the handwritten notes add a very personal feel to the images. They felt more intimate than if they had been typed. I still wondered if what he wrote were actually his own experiences or whether he was interested in the concept that the writing reflected. That made the work very accessible and open for different interpretations. I would like to create the same kind of feeling in my images as well.

At first I had made a photograph of all my diaries and written letters and wanted to use that as a front page. However, I was not happy with the photograph itself and for the same reason of not using a diary layout, I think it didn't fit very well with the other photographs. The main reason for that is that the image is visually too descriptive and doesn't stir to think beyond what is seen, nor is it triggering an own interpretation.

I also find that I keep on going from one image to the other and one quote from my diaries to the other. This process of selecting and discarding helps me in defining what it is that I really want to show and what kind of visual process I would like the viewer to go through. Even after selecting all the images, I found an other one that I had accidentally taken when I was walking on the streets early in the morning and found it suitable to add to the set. For a moment I doubted whether I should leave in the image with the bed and the quote about sex, because it might be a bit too personal, but when I look back I do think it is quite funny that I used to believe that if you were sexually active as a teenager your sex life as an adult would totally suck. It also shows the kind of fears and myopic beliefs that I used to have. 

I have also changed a few quotes that, looking at them now, are too specific for the viewer to really understand and put most of the focus on my religious ideas back then. I prefer the set to be more about the struggle every teenager somehow goes through. Thinking about it, everybody at that age can have pretty skewed ideas, although some a bit more than the other. So below you will see my initial thoughts and final ideas:

The first two images tell about the doubts that I used to have about my faith and the need for space to grow. These were my initial quotes:

But when I looked at them again, I realised that for a person who has never been to church or has been in a church community, these quotes will only give responses of estrangement and won't invite to interpret them in a personal way. That's why I have chosen an other quote and swapped the other.

The photo below does have a quote that touches on my religious views, but also on how easily influenced I used to be in my search for meaning and a purpose in life. The question that the photo of an empty church triggers in regards to the quote is whether my effort to help in a revival failed or whether I just gave up on the idea of church itself. The baptismal font stands for an obvious choice to dedicate yourself or your child to God. I like the fact that there is nobody there. Now I believe that choices with regards to faith or religion should be made on a personal level, without the manipulation of others, me included.

However, when I looked at the images again after a while, I realised that the next quote is more personal and typical for the kind of fears that used to drive me. It might also be more understandable for somebody who has never been in a church setting before.

What spoke to me a lot in Duane Michal's work was that he was able to tell a story in a very strong and clear way. Sometimes through sequences, other times through hand written notes beneath the photo. I added this quote and story because I wanted to establish the same effect of making connotations between what you see and what the image is really about through captions. I have purposely taken the photo in an environment that looks a bit sterile, to accentuate the mess that you might get in your mind after reading the story. 

When I read this line in my diaries I immediately knew I wanted to take this photograph. Growing up is a bit like jumping and coming down again, sometimes very hard. I vividly remember those moments of discovering new things in life and feeling instantly mature and happy. Only to come down again and feel like you have to start all over again and make another jump. 

My initial idea was to make a self portrait with this quote, but I soon realised that in order to keep the main focus on how you feel in the adolescence years I should photograph my daughter instead. I wonder about the part in which I question if wearing make up is biblical. Is that going to distract the viewer from the main idea of the image, which is the questions I had about becoming a woman and what to do about it myself. On the other hand, those thoughts really did keep me from paying a lot of attention to how I looked and added to the sense of insecurity that I have felt for a long time.

There were so many professions that I wanted to become and I still hope reincarnation is real and I get to try a few more professions. As a teenager though, I found it very confusing and difficult to make such a profound decision. It also had an impact on my studies because I just could not choose what I wanted to do and ended up quitting every course or degree that I started. I feel that this insecurities are strongly related to a sense of self worth and it seems that now I'm in my forties I finally have the determination to actually not be distracted and finish something! 

As a teenager you can have such a love/hate relationship with your parents and so had I. However, I have always been able to have great conversations with my father and I have always felt a very strong connection with him. This photo is about how you discover things about yourself that are part of your family genes. Sometimes that can be very confrontational and you realise that there are certain traits that you will probably have to deal with the rest of your life. When it comes to my father though, seeing resemblances in him used to make me feel really good about myself and it still does.

I grew up with a strong sense that we are alive to serve others. In a way this sounds very nice, on the other hand looking back I am quite taken aback with the influence this has on your position in relationships with others. I realise now that I don't always have to be the one at other's service, I can say no and most important, I have to take care of myself and think more about what and who makes me happy! I did get married and think my husband is pretty happy with me, but now I realise this is not the point. First of all, happiness cannot be pursued, it ensues (Frankl). Second you can't ask from others to make you happy or feel that you're the soul provider of happiness for those around you. It's you're own responsibility to find meaning and fulfilment in life. Besides that, there's technology.

In this image and quote to show how some quite extreme thoughts steered me when I was growing up and how it made me worry about ridiculous things.  I have looked up a few of these books again and realise even more how stifling the theologies I held on to were. In the image I think that the sort of ghost like appearance of me in the mirror is quite a good reflection of how you was loosing my own identity through fear and skewed ideas. 

Of all quotes this one made me laugh most. I can still be very convinced of something and find out that it's not true! I guess that being aware of it is a good antidote though and I think that this realisation early in life has helped me stay tolerant and away from even more extreme thoughts. When I saw these stairs it reminded me of how you can be sure of finding something up there, go up, only to realise that it is very different and than go down again. This spiral case is a symbol of checking your ideas and coming back to exactly the same space where you came from, but with new knowledge and changed ideas, or staying up and enjoying a better view.

Outsiders often look at identical twins as being a unity and will only ask about differences and commonalities. When I was a teenager I really struggled with developing my own, separate identity beside somebody who looks exactly like you, but seems to be the better, smarter-decision-making version. I sometimes see similar struggles with my own girls and this photograph is a good example of it. I have been thinking whether I should put up an image that shows them happily playing together, because they actually get along really well, but this one is a much better reflection of the feelings that I had written down in my diary.