What is my picture making really about? I was asked that a while back. More or less rhetorically, but I would still like to try and answer the question. My picture making is about introducing the visual to the conceptual. Too much of photography made today carries a whole lot of intellectual and conceptual value, but no visual value at all. It is like the essence of photography, the two dimensional image, has totally been forgotten underneath all the “stuff” that goes on around photography these days. I mean all the discussion about techniques, self publishing, social media etc. makes me just want to cuddle up in the corner of a sofa and start scrolling in an old fashioned book with beautiful images. And maybe some essays. That address issues relating to the images not the contemporary time, or the change of times. I love conceptual photography, but not on the cost of the visual! The activity described above is actually what I was doing today, hence the rattle.
“Introducing the visual to the conceptual”, what the hell does that mean? Why am I making photographs and what kind of photographs am I making? I am making photographs that are very much about something very intangible. Well, that did not make so much sense. My photographs are about things that concerns us people. In my notebook I have two different definitions of this, explaining or trying to explain what my images are about. The first one is “I make work about the stuff that floats around us people, without actually portraying people in their recognisable form”. Furthering this I have scribbled down, “if there is no criticism, there is no progress”…
The second quote says “I’ve been photographing the landscape without making even one landscape photograph. I’ve been making portraits, that doesn’t inhabit a single person”. This makes more sense, specially with regard to my current work. But if I am insisting on making pictures about the human condition (one could say, that this is the grand narrative of my work, just to simplify a bit), why do it in such a conceptual way that makes it very difficult to recognise. Well, I could say that the reason to do this is, that I do not want to let people get away that easily. I want to catch them and hold on to them for as long as I can. By making the audience look and figure things out, I am giving them an opportunity to reveal something about themselves as well. And about the world around them. It is not only about glancing at something once and moving on to the next thing. I want my audience to look at my work, and figure every little detail out. That is what everyone – me including – should do with their lives as well.
The title of my current series, The Great Because, will probably never open itself up to most people. And that is perfectly fine with me. But the story behind it, is so intriguing that it would be such a waste not to use it. Even if it’s just me and a handful of Scots actually knowing what it refers to.
So why am I making pictures and what is my picture making about. It is about finding the purpose of my life. Not through these grand events I am talking about in my photographic series, but through the image making itself. Even if the world is already polluted with photographs, it is not polluted by people’s vision. A single picture doesn’t mean anything, a person’s vision means everything. I am not threatened by all the 800 billion pictures taken each year.
“Introducing the visual to the conceptual” could mean something like starting out with one and ending up with both.