Okay, so I had done all my post processing, added the captions and was quite content with the final result:
I was about to send my tutor a happy message to tell him that I was done, when I looked at the pictures again and realised that the end product was actually pretty boring, nice as the images may be. I realised that if I want to grow as an artist, I need to start thinking about how I want to present my work and dare myself to make it different and better. Judging my own work I felt that there was much more potential in the subject matter and that in order to convey the message of mystery and the human emotions that are at play in the City of Djinns, I had to change my layout and increase the depth of visual experience when looking at the work.
An other welcome revelation was that in this course I can make my images look exactly the way I want them to. I don't have to adhere to any rules or ideologies, this work is my interpretation of what I have experienced and seen. The background information and research informs me, but does not have to dictate the way I represent my thoughts. At the same time I'm reading 'Towards a Philosophy of Photography', by Vilém (love that name) Flusser) which discusses the idea that:
'Basically, therefore, photographers wish to produce state of things that have never existed before; they pursue these states, not out there in the world, since for them the world is only a pretext for the states of things that are to be produced, but amongst the possibilities contained within the camera's program.' (Flusser, pg 37)
With digital photography this idea is exponentially more valid and it triggered me into thinking beyond just adjusting the raw files to make them visually more attractive, but work on the pixels in such a way that the subject would present an other state.
Going back to the subject of my project, I think this line of thought is a parallel to the way the people in my photographs think about djinns and mysticism in general. They believe Djinns come in all shapes and forms and can travel through the dimensions of time. Instead of having a camera and computer to make this visible, the system of beliefs of the people make this unseen phenomena a reality.
On the next page, Flusser talks about the 'phenomenological doubt' that photographers experience, because photography makes it possible to show an innumerable viewpoints of phenomena, making the 'photographer's practice hostile to ideology'.
'Ideology is the insistence on a single viewpoint thought to be perfect. Photographers act in a post-ideological way even when they think they are serving an ideology.' (Flusser, pg 38)
The worship of Djinns has always been under much debate in the muslim community and now that I think about it, this may also have to do with the fact that the ideas that beings in all different shapes and dimensions have divine powers is a stray from a monotheistic ideology in itself.
I like how I can read books that at first seem quite incomprehensible, even a bit weird, and then realise that they describe experiences and thoughts that are actually applicable to different circumstances and come to the core of why we do things, where we find meaning and maybe also why I enjoy photography so much. It may just give the same magical sensation as burning incense to Djinns or feeling a connection with times and people in the past.
But back to what happened next. I decided I wanted to change the layout of the images and make it look like the spreads in a book. So I googled books Djinns layout and came across this page:
I really like how the book breaths a certain atmosphere, but actually uses a lot of different ways of drawing, paintings and photography. I'm still very uncomfortable drawing, but I wished I could add drawings to my work. Thank goodness for Photoshop! I started manipulating the images of the shrines, smoke and artefacts that people leave in the caves and came up with some interesting results:
After manipulating the images I tried a few different ways of incorporating them with the images and also made some changes in which images to use. I realised that in my initial set there were too many photographs of children and that the first image of the fort is really not very interesting and doesn't fit well with the overall narrative that I want to show. Here are a few of my trials:
In my next blog I'll write some additional information about the images themselves.
Flusser, V. (2000) Towards a philosophy of photography. London: Reaktion Books.