I have recently been observing concepts that construct imagery as a one piece series where the viewer sees a collection of several photographs as one image as a way to tell a narrative story. Featuring text within imagery is also another contributing factor in support of storyboard sequences.
American photographer Duane Michals uses text and sequences photographs within his work and has become a leading practitioner from the 1960’s. Following his studies at the University of Denver, Michals began his career as a graphic designer before focusing more on photography during the 1950s. Michals exhibited internationally in which he has featured work at the Museum of Modern Art in the UK among many other solo and collaborative shows across the world. Michals has also won various awards including the ‘International Centre of photography Infinity Award’ in 1989.
Michals work consists of ambiguous storytelling which are presented as black and white frame by frame sequences in which the title text featured is hand written. Michals’ conceptual imagery presents queer moments that in some instances appear surreal and distorted. Michals is experimental with his subjects as he creates unworldly narratives that at times refers to paranormal phenomena, possessing an eerie atmosphere that leaves the audience in question of developing events. In many of Michals works, there is use of image layering in which he creates the illusion of figures as ghosts in which we see a mix of dark shadows and transparency representing the individual subject. Michals also brings a symbolic quality in how he uses objects to reflect the characters portrayed. For example, the series Magic Mirror of Uncertainty’ distorts the reflection of the subject as she peers into a round mirror. This example highlights how Michael balances between reality and surrealism as there is an unknowing aspect that leaves the viewer at a crossroads as to how an individual is truly seen.
I find Michal is very specific with detail in elements involving objects and the merging of images to create quite uncanny story images. I admire how Michal keeps a raw feel to the images as if they have been taken directly from a film reel which brings more essence of cinema to the sequences. I also find the way he has annotated the imagery gives the images a documentative perspective. I find Michal influential in terms of physical technique by using image manipulation and a different method of presenting the narrative.
Wendy Ewald is another practitioner who is experimental with the presentation of photographic imagery. Following her photographic studies, Ewald has since interpreted projects involving children through a collection of portraits featuring text and primary visual imagery. Ewald was intrigued by how her child subjects viewed their surroundings in comparison to how Ewald viewed them as an adult. Ewald has travelled across various parts of the world pursuing documentary projects of the world seen from a young person’s perspective. Her themes often explore community, self representation and occupational insight.
One series which is particularly compelling sees a series of intimate portraits of children and adults which features a written message that travels around the subject (usually as a curve) that reveals the true background of the child’s point of view on their lives. The series presents a powerful message that uses text as way of revealing the person more so than the visual content itself. Ewald also photographs the individual from behind, and is playful in featuring text within the shape of their head or on a different part of their body. Ewald is very candid with how she captures her subjects and the use of text brings a bold moral to her documentary narratives.
I find Ewald is very creative with her use of text and the portraits are well established as an advertising scheme. I find the images speak (somewhat literally) to the audience that addresses attitude and as an overall collection, there is a unity in how the viewer can relate or sympathise with the individual. For future projects, I am intrigued to experiment with typography and sequencing imagery as I find this will bring a more physical connexion with the audience.
D C Moore Gallery (2016) Duane Michals [Online] Available from: http://www.dcmooregallery.com (Accessed 03/01/2016)
In this Playground Copyright (2016) Wendy Ewald: Photoplay [Online] Available from: www.inthisplayground.com (Accesed 03/01/2016)
Encyclopedia.com Copyright (2016) Ewald. Wendy. (b. 1951) [Online] Available from: http://www.encyclopedia.com (Accessed 03/01/2016)
W. Ewald (2012) Photography Changes What We Expect ‘Reality’ Will Look Like In: Heiferman, M. et. al. Photography Changes Everything, New York, Aperture Foundation and Smithsonian Institution, p124-126