Nalan kaya julie blackmon - domestic vacations
Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Transcripts - Nalan kaya julie blackmon - domestic vacations
(1) Conceptual Practise Julie Blackmon – Domestic Vacations The second photographer’s I have researched also focuses on domestic life. And how this socialises children to influence who they become. However, instead of reflecting back on past family events as an act of self-‐discovery (as Benitah had done), Blackmon’s body of work ‘Domestic Vacations’ is more of a documentation on how children behave and push the boundaries of the particularistic standards set on them by their parents through primary socialisation which influences the type of person they grow to be. Blackmon relates her work to the Dutch proverb ‘a Jan Steen household’ which originated in the 17th century and is used today to refer to a home in disarray, full of rowdy children and boisterous family gatherings. The paintings of Steen helped inspire this body of work. ßBlackmon’s photograph <-‐ Steen’s painting
As Steen’s personal narratives of family life depicted nearly 400 years ago, the conflation of art and life is an area which Blackmon has explored in photographing the everyday life of her family and the lives of her sisters and their families at home. – as she is the oldest of nine children in addition to the mother of three, so family dynamics has played a large role in her own personal life. These images are both fictional and auto-‐biographical, and reflect not only the lives today and as children growing up in a large family, but also move beyond the documentary to explore the fantastic elements of everyday lives, both imagined and real. Also, in this body of work, Blackmon expresses her struggle between living in the moment versus escaping to another reality – which in terms of domestic life could refer to living through the undesirable dynamics of family life, i.e. having to cope with children misbehaving, versus wanting to live a selfish lifestyle focusing on your individual needs and disregarding that of others. (2) Extracting the concept in 2 images You can read the concept of Blackmon’s body of work through analysing the mis-‐en-‐scene and other conventions of the image. For instance, being as Blackmon documents her very dynamic family, full of ‘life’ so to speak, her images are high in saturation and feature bright colours that represent this. Also, the iconography of items within these images represents the characteristics of the children For instance, in this image you can see a bathroom with two teenage girls dying their hair. This represents the stage of vanity in which the typical American teenage girl (as Blackmon’s family is of American culture) – reflecting in the way they have been socialised, but more to do with secondary than primary socialisation as these phases of vanity are influenced by factors outside the home – such as the media portrayal of
‘beautiful’ people, and peers of the same age. Therefore, this image expresses how parents have to go through the struggle of gradually losing control over their children, as they progress with age and construct their own identities with factors, which the parents have little influence over. However, when children are at the age of which they are still at home before they start school, they are only influenced through primary socialisation – so parents have full control over the children. For instance, parents are able to set particularistic standards (which only apply to the individual). However, in wider society (through secondary socialisation) the individual is treated and charged in terms of universalistic standards, which are applied to all members, regardless of kinship ties. For example, your teacher or boss won’t care if your goldfish died the night before if you lose him business or turn up really late for a class/meeting – thus in society and in education you are judged by Universalistic standards. Furthermore, in the home you are given an ascribed status; it is fixed by birth. However, in wider society outside of the home, your status is largely achieved by meritocratic standards: for example, individuals achieve their occupational status. So you can go from living in a shabby home to having a better house through your own individual efforts (even though there are other factors, such as class, affecting this).
This image represents children when they are at the stage before they encounter secondary socialisation. We can see how ‘out of control’ the children are behaving – which is only the expected behaviour of children of this age and culture. However, an issue is presented in this image as it asks, ‘What are the parents doing?’ or even ‘Where are the parents?’ In the corner of the image, there appears to be a female relaxing on the sofa, waiting for her painted nails to dry. We cannot conclude whether this is the mother of the children, or whether it is an adolescent sibling, but through the research of Blackmon’s body of work I found the statement that through this body of work, Blackmon expresses her struggle between living in the moment (which could refer to having parental responsibilities within a family) versus escaping to another reality (which could refer to abandoning these responsibilities and acting in an almost selfish way, i.e. ignoring the children whilst concentrating on relaxing and painting nails) Which leads me to believe that the female subject is the mother of the children – either Blackmon herself or Blackmon’s sister – as previously mentioned, this body of work is about photographing the everyday life of Blackmon’s family and the lives of her sisters and their families at home. (3) Demonstrate understanding of genre These photographs are intended to be shot in the documentary genre as the purpose of this body of work is documentation on how children are socialised in modern society today. However, this body of work is not fully shot in the documentary genre as I found, through research of this body of work, that Blackmon had to stage certain shots in order to recreate events which she wanted to include in her body of work but was unable to shoot when they actually happened as she was not anticipating them and she wasn’t in the possession of a camera. Therefore, we can conclude that the genre of photography in which this body of work is shot in is a hybrid of documentary and staged narrative.
ß image 1 ß image 2 (4) As everything is in focus within these images, we can conclude that a narrow aperture setting like f/22 was used in order to give a deep focus. This would restrict the amount of light entering through the lens, as the gate would have a very small opening. Also, there is no motion blur of the subjects suggesting the sue of a quick shutter speed such as 1/100 -‐ which indicates that a high ISO setting would need to be used – although this could be altered slightly to a medium setting if studio lights were used – which could be a possibility as these images look very artificial colour and light wise.
As the locations of these shots vary, so would the ISO setting to accommodate the other settings and the light source of the environment. For instance, the first image appears to be a basement (judging by the stairs) in which there are no windows – meaning that there is no natural light getting into the, only candles, a lamp and an unusual blue light source from on top of the stairs. However, we can conclude that an additional light source as added as these sources of light would be insufficient, even with a high ISO setting, due to the narrow aperture and quick shutter speed, and also the photographer may wish to avoid her images resulting in noise/grain caused by a high ISO setting. Therefore, we can conclude that the ISO setting would have been a setting such as 400 in order to result in the correct exposure. However, in the second image we can see that there are several natural sources of light – as we can see through on the reflection of a window on the mirror, the window in the bathroom and the source another window to the right hand side of the bathroom, which we can identify from the light reflecting onto the floor. Being as the subject is sat very still and this photo is less chaotic than the previous, we can conclude that a slightly lower shutter speed setting could have been used, such as 1/40. Also, everything is in focus within this image – indicating a deep focus of setting f/20 – f/22.