I’m not gonna lie, this photography project was extremely ironic, especially for me.
Catch me with my head in my phone 24/7 scrolling through Instagram, but catch me in this photography class pointing out the concerns of social media.
And who better to influence me than Babycakes Romero. Yes, that’s his actual name, and yes, I said his name out loud in front of my class to a snicker or two.
Not interested in Romero for his memorable name, I was drawn in by his ‘Death of Conversation’ series. Each photo featured people completely consumed by their phones, forgetting almost entirely about the people existing before them.
It was the perfect platform for my project. Ironic, I know.
Known to constantly bring out my phone to enlighten everyone with a meme or even message my flatmate in the same room, I am guilty as charged. However, this project continued to intrigue me. Where did the boundaries of technology stop when going for coffee or on dates? Yes, phones are a social prop, hiding awkwardness and filling silence, but at the same time aren’t they also the causes?
Romero’s quote ‘We need to learn to switch off before we become switched off from each other’, struck a chord with me. And to be honest, it scared me a little. With this in mind, I wanted to visualise our absent-minded gravitation towards phones in conversation, whether intentional or not, and show how this decreases relationships and communication, making people feel second best to a device. Or that we rely far too much on technology to help carry the conversation. Again, guilty.
Wanting to work smarter and not harder, I bribed my flatmate with promises of McDonald’s. Honestly, for the amount of walking and photos she endured, she was seriously underpaid.
And having completely ditched art due to Simon ruining it for me, I wanted to bring back some artistic elements with my photos. Collage, sewing, drawing digitally and by hand, they were all rejected by my tutor and fellow classmates.
If there wasn’t a stronger indication that I should avoid art, this was it.
I wasn’t mad. Honestly I was just happy to be pointed in a direction so I could develop my idea. And being able to roll out of bed at 12 and still turn up on time to class improved my mood greatly despite the 3 hours spent in a blacked out room on a Friday afternoon.
Not to mention the chill vibes of the class. Sure, there were the mandatory initial ‘read this reading and come back next week ready to discuss this’ discussions and group projects to refresh our camera skills, but after three classes of this the tutor was as over it as we were and let us do our own thing. Thank you, Shaun.
My saving hope was collage media artist Pablo Thecuadro. With an artistic style similar to my aesthetic, he would remove silhouettes or certain parts from portrait photos and layer other images beneath. Combined with a layered merge effect, I was able to create a transition from the initial focus in a conversation to the distraction of the phone, and ultimately the replacement of that person by technology.
All that was left was to spend 3 hours a week at uni editing and perfecting my photos because my ass was too broke to afford Photoshop and all those overpriced programmes. Don’t even get me started on last years Photoshop dramas …
The final series was received well by my tutor, which was ironic considering he had ripped me out for me photography project the year before. Then again, I had given up all hope in that class.
The A almost made up for the $30 printing fee. I don’t know where the money came from that week, but I must have skipped a few more meals than usual.
Even the final day of class was chill. Rock up, pin your photos to the wall and talk about your project for 5 minutes. I don’t know if I was even more chill than normal with presenting because the class was chill, or if my mind was constantly distracted by the fact that it was my final hand in and I would be happily drunk 4 hours later.
Whichever reason, it was the best end to the uni year that I could have asked for.
“The Need to Disconnect” 2018
And that’s my third post done and dusted. Not gonna lie, I forgot this blog existed until half an hour ago. My mind has been consumed by work and creating designs for an art page my friend and I are planning to create. Strong emphasis on planning.
We may not get there yet. Only time will tell.