Project 7: more thoughts on representation of blood

The issue of creating an artistic representation of my experience of bleeding as opposed to a scientific or documentary one has stayed with me.

Fry talks about art reflecting the imagined life and describes how because it’s our imagined life no fight or flight action is necessary, consciousness may be focused upon the perceptive and the emotional aspects of the experience and in that way we get a different set of values, and a different kind of perception than from real situations. For example, we see a film of a runaway horse and cart, we do not have to think either of getting out of the way or involved, so we see the event much more clearly including things irrelevant to the danger. Therefore the emotions are weaker than those of ordinary life and are presented more clearly to the consciousness.

“In the mirror, it is easier to abstract ourselves completely, and look upon the changing scene as a whole. It then, at once, takes on the visionary quality, and we become true spectators, not selecting what we will see, but seeing everything equally, and thereby we come to notice a number of appearances and relations of appearances, which would have escaped our notice before.” (Fry 1920, p13)

This describes exactly how I see art, but whereas Fry sees art having a moral imperative I see it as being more overtly political and ideological where are reflects consciously or not moral/political/ideological positions. Isn’t that what makes Duchamp’s urinal art rather than a piece of functional kit? The implication of Fry’s position also means that my work will reflect both witting testimony – what I want it to say – and unwitting testimony – values and positions that I did not consciously intend by are present.

Many of the students who are currently completing the MA in Fine Art Digital are using innovative approaches to creating work. For example, some of Rhiannon Evans’ video work is very interesting like this (link), as is some of Sarah Robinson’s still work (link). When I first viewed their work it made me think that maybe my approach was too conservative and I explored this issue a little in my interview prior to enrolling.

However photography is not art of itself: it has been used to document for legal, medical and news purposes; in vernacular form for people to record events and keep mementos. But is can be used to an artistic end. Indeed Charlotte Cotton’s The Photograph as Contemporary Art (2004) illustrates how photos can be seen as art. Indeed she notes that more photos were hung on gallery wall in last 10 years than ever before and that the photographers have not captured an image they have created it via a visual strategy. This last point is key to my approach.

Most I my photos up until now have been pretty straight – ie photos that look like photos rather than anything offering other associations such as painterly images. But of course digital art goes way beyond still photography. Film, GIF animations, and digital painting where no reference exists are all used to create art. So given that I want to use this project to evoke three things within the viewer I will continue to explore painterly renderings of the blood.

I want this project to evoke:

1) A visceral response – to nearly shock with a bold block of blood

2) A considered response – to allow viewers to think about the meaning of the blood

3) An artistic response – to evoke a sense of forms of representation

The first objective will be achieved largely via scale, saturation and luminosity and by how I decide to represent the blood within the frame; the second will be achieved via its association values and context; and the last objective will be achieved via the production values I apply to the image.

Fry, R. (1920) An Essay on Aesthetics in Vision and Design, Published by Chatto and Windus

Cotton, C. (2004 (2009 edn) The Photograph as Contemporary Art, Published by Thames and Hudson


About Pete

South Londoner struggling with life, art and photography.
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2 Responses to Project 7: more thoughts on representation of blood

  1. rhiannon evans says:

    Hi Pete
    This seems like quite a change.
    I hope we can have a good discussion at the Low- Res.
    We will have to co-ordinate to make sure that we meet….
    The Fry reference looks really interesting, I’ll take a look.
    Thanks very much for referencing my work!
    All Best

    Liked by 1 person

    • anomiepete says:

      Thanks Rhiannon. Most of Roger Fry’s words resonate with me although he wrote them over a hundred years ago. The only bit where I tend to depart from his view was that he argued (as I read it anyway) that all good art had to be moral where I see good art as articulate art.

      I’m still exploring blood …. 🙂


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