Over the last year my photographic projects have been derived from detailed research of the influence new technology has had on the well-being of society and our culture. The research for these projects not only determined its narrative theme but also enabled me to define my creative approach to its final presentation. This research often lead me to use a conceptual visual theme to present the projects visual narrative to the viewer.
These conceptual photographs were often presented to the viewer a negative reaction to my findings, producing images that challenged the viewers thinking on the subject matter. These photographic essays present to the viewer my own observations on society and its behaviour, challenging the negative behaviours that emerged over the last few years. Reflection on my work, I concluded that I use my photography practice as a platform for social commentary and also use it as a platform to protest.
The criteria of my final degree projects is to write an academic essay which is akin to the final degree project I will undertake. I therefore chose to explore the concept of using art as a platform for protest and social commentary, which I have identified as being the creative thinking behind my photographic practice. To help ascertain the theme of this essay I undertook a period of detailed research into the subject.
I started this process by reflecting on the history of photography and how it has been used in the past as a platform for social commentary and as a propaganda. To explore this subject in more detail I began to research the history of propaganda photography. This research enabled me to encounter key exhibitions that had focused on the work of social documentary photographers and how they used their work to document society for political commentary. I found that the research information on propaganda photography was documented as being linked to the evolution of photographic manipulation, stimulating a vast amounts of debate on the truth in documentary photography. Historically this manipulation took the form of staged photography or image cropping. The time period of research that interest me is the social documentation of the 1930s depression period and the controversy of the documentation of the farmlands In America by Dorothea Lange and Arthur Rothstein. Both photographers work was challenged for being staged as propaganda photography. The impact of their photographs, even if they were manipulated, did lead to changes that ultimately provided help to the subjects of their photographs. The underlying theme of all of this research questions the truth of documentary photography and whether the use of image manipulation is ethical. In the case of Lange and Rothstein you could debate that their miss representation of the truth lead to the improved well-being of others. Reflecting on my initial research on the contemporary debates on documentary photography practices identified that the miss representation of imagery presented to the viewer can lead to social protest and can influence a chain of events. Analysing this research enabled me to identify how the presentation of the truth has become blurred in contemporary documentary photography. I therefore concluded that I could debate the validity of social documentary photography as a medium to document the truth.
To define the theme in more detail I would like to continue to research these themes to identify critical theoretical thinking on the subject of documentary photography and the application of the truth. Sharing my findings with my tutor has enabled us to discuss the themes and links between the truth in documentary photography and how it can influence change and also how the manipulation of documentary photography can undermine the trust of its audience. I intend to explore these themes in more detail to define my essay theme.
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Bishop. D. ( 26th March 2018) Photographers and Propaganda,Friends and EnemiesPDC, Public Diplomacy Council. Available at : https://www.publicdiplomacycouncil.org/2018/03/26/photographers-and-propaganda-friends-and-enemies/ [ Accessed 20th July 2018]
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Dybis. K. ( October 2nd 2015) Altered Image, Vanished Trust: Photojournalism in an age of digital manipulation . Centre for Digital Ethics and Policy. Available at: http://www.digitalethics.org/essays/altered-image-vanished-trust-photojournalism-age-digital-manipulation [ Accessed 20th July 2018]
Farr. K. ( 30th September 2016) How can Photographs Help Create Social Change? KQED Education. Available at: https://ww2.kqed.org/education/2016/09/30/how-can-photographs-help-create-social-change-2/ [ Accessed 20th July 2018]
Grinbaum S. Maimon. V. (October 2016 ) Activestills: How Photography can become a mean of protest, London, Pluto Press. Available at : https://www.plutobooks.com/9780745336695/activestills/ [ Accessed 17th July 2018]
MoMA ( no date) Witness, Museum of Modern Art, Available at https: //www.moma.org/learn/moma_learning/themes/photography/photography-as-witness
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Myers .C. ( no date ) The FSA Photographs: Information, or Propaganda? BU Arts & Sciences Writing Program. Available at http://www.bu.edu/writingprogram/journal/past-issues/issue-1/the-fsa-photographs-information-or-propaganda/ [ Accessed 20th July 2018]
Robinson. L. ( 20th April 2017) History of Photography: Photos as Propaganda, photo focus. Available at: https://photofocus.com/2017/08/20/history-of-photography-photos-as-propaganda/%5B Accessed 20th July 2018]
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The Independent. ( 2010) Power to the Picture:The evolution of Propaganda. The Independent Newspaper. Available at https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/power-to-the-pictures-the-evolution-of-propaganda-2075321.html [ accessed 20th July 2018]