‘Ultimately seeing alters the thing that is seen and transforms the seer. Seeing is metamorphosis, not mechanism.’ The quote from James Elkins book The Object Stares Back is a good introduction to the work that I have been doing recently.
Seeing changes the form or the nature of a thing or person for the viewer. I did wonder about this in relation to my own work especially my most recents shots taken at a new site over the weekend. These are shots of the remnants left behind by migrant workers at this location. Prior to this I had been looking at portraiture, and I think that they may be easier to discuss in relation to gaze, however these latest remnant shots would be worth exploring.
Minor White, the influential teacher and editor of Aperture in the 1950s and 60s revived Stieglitz’s idea of the Equivalent, that a photograph is a visual metaphor for the feeling of the artist rather than a record of the subject. I really enjoy metaphors in photographic work and feel that this will always be part of my practice.
This first shot shows three discarded bottles, the labels show that they are Modelo beer bottles, this is a Mexican beer, consumed after a hard days work, which is a normal practice around the globe. This image is an observation of remnants is so relatable, such a normal, simple, common act. These workers are just the same as anyone else, why does this need to be explained? Grupo Modelo has a huge plant in Hildago very much like the ones that I photograph here in Houston. I was searching for clues at this new site, and this shoot could have been likened to a forensic search. I managed to get these images just before being removed from a construction site for the second time.
ELKINS, James. 1997. The Object Stares Back: On the Nature of Seeing. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.