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Source Photographic Review - Back Issue Archive - Issue 111 Summer 2023 - Editorial Page

Issue 111 — Summer 2023

Source - Issue 111 - Summer - 2023 - Click for Contents

Issue 111 — Summer  2023
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A significant part of our contemporary communications infrastructure is dedicated to the circulation of photographs of cats, apparently because of the way they make us feel. But cats themselves have an exceptionally limited range of expression, so where are these feelings coming from? Julia Tanner explores this paradox. In fact, the question of how emotions are bound up with images can be confusing. Looking at photographs can prompt an emotional reaction and photographs can be made to convey a feeling. Photographs might depict an emotion. But are these the same thing? Is showing an emotion the same as sharing it? David Bate disentangles these different relationships between pictures and the way we feel about them.

Wiebke Leister’s research explores the intersections between photography and theatre and what this might bring to bear on questions about authenticity and artificiality. In recent research Leister has become interested in Japanese Noh Theatre and how she might transpose non-representational elements from it to develop an understanding of photography that is not characterised by being a representation or imitation of the real world. Leister’s portfolio comes out of the performance of Echoes and Callings, which was performed at the Noh Reimagined festival. Noh drama is the oldest surviving form of Japanese theatre in which one all-encompassing emotion dominates the main character. Masks are only worn by the main character and when they put them on their individuality recedes and they become nothing but the emotion to be depicted. In the festival Leister performed a live photo collage projection, with sound improvisation. The work proffers a counter-narrative to the patriarchal construction of women in Noh drama and studies visualisations of female demons.

For our archive portfolio Brendan Maartens, author of Propaganda and Public Relations in Military Recruitment, has been looking at the posters in the archive of the National Army Museum. Recruiters have been enticing civilians to serve with promises of travel, adventure and money for centuries. Photography has allowed them to capture images of people, places and activities that tell their own stories of service. Maartens considers the photographic iconography to explore their emotional strategies. Soldiers are seen with broad smiles to show their happy contentment in their working environment, alongside their comrades. At other times, their expressions show a fixed determination to succeed at the tasks in hand. Never do they show their anxiety or fear as they face the prospects of mental stress, physical harm or death.

Colin Gray’s portfolio Caught Between draws on a number of bodies of work much of which is concerned with thresholds between life and death, of which Gray says "sometimes it’s scary peering beyond somewhere". The work draws on his father’s final months of life after a cancer diagnosis, being scared for his own life during two periods in intensive care and the imagery that appeared in the media during covid. The work has been made using a number of methods. In some images of his father Gray used very out of date Polaroid film utilising the deteriorated state of the film to create an empathy with his father’s situation. In Caught Between his use of green coloured gels to construct self-portraits was influenced by the flood of images of hospital interiors and doctor’s uniforms during Covid. Across the projects his family have been his collaborators whose left field suggestions have been warmly welcomed.

— The Editors