“I am neither subject nor object but a subject who feels he is becoming an object: I then experience a micro version of death… Ultimately, what I am seeking in the photograph taken of me… is death.”
– Roland Barthes
I like to bring to the forefront, that which exists in the shadows: focusing on the forgotten or ignored details that surround us in all aspects of our lives. Having experimented with different methodologies and media, my work often has varied finished styles. However, there is an eerie, hollowness present throughout.
Photography, as Barthes (quoted above) suggests, allows us an insight into that which we often find most uncomfortable: Death. When working with such a weighted topic, you obviously have to be aware of the impending clichés, but by keeping my outcomes subtle and the descriptions of my practice vague the viewer remains engaged in the work for a longer period of time – truly questioning, and taking in, the entirety of the piece. This subtlety is evident in my most recent work, The Rehearsal. By moving Barthes suggestion to the forefront of my photographic practice, this ‘rehearsal’ becomes a conscious element in these images – with the sitter listening to the noise of time passing – a three-minute rigid stillness that feels more like a lifetime.
The noise I am referring to above is the main piece of equipment I have been using of late – a flatbed scanner. By constructing pinhole camera obscura’s atop flatbed scanners I have created images, using modern equipment, which capture the essence of early photographic practice. The subject’s intense stillness for the duration of the exposure, coupled with the life sized scaling of the images (when exhibited), creates a haunting aura – an eerie, hollowness – that, as I have mentioned before, is present throughout the majority of my work.
What attracted me to the scanner pinhole camera? In this instance, much like the early photograph, these images are created over an extended period of time. However, unlike the long exposure prominent in early photographic practice The Rehearsal is a compilation of aligned moments, instead of overlaid ones. The subject’s authenticity is compromised through their slight movements, in a manner that is much less obvious than these early photographic images – though the same eerie quality remains.
In short, these images are rehearsals; they are death masks for the living.
See more photographs by Brogan Ramm