Choose a poem that resonates with you and then interpret it through photographs. Don’t attempt to describe the poem but instead give a sense of the feeling of the poem and the essence it exudes. You may choose to develop this idea into creating a short series of images reflecting your personal response to the poem (or another poem). Write some reflective notes about how you would move the exercise on.
The poem chosen is [Untitled] by Dan Annett and features in the anthology LS13 a collection by the 20 top writers of poetry under 40 years old in resident in Leeds in 2013.
“Daniel regards his poems as the outcome(s) of the opening/closing, breaking/making, fixing/blurring of thought ex nihilo. They are the process of inconsistency.” (P.161, Brown, LS13 A New Generation of Writers).
The poem resonated at a personal level as it had a strong sense of emotional lyricism through the writer’s ability to take the reader not only across the page but across a range of feelings. This is achieved by the reader being carried on a journey of visceral description of life, love, the desire for connection, the fragility of each of us and what we might hold dear and the difficulties of watching what is emotionally ‘unwatchable’ – that being the distress and harm that we might see someone we love suffer. Notes – Considerations and Ideas – Exercise, Poem – [Unitled] by Dan Annett
Poem – © Dan Annett – [Untitled] – Reproduced for educational purposes.
Artist site – http://voicevoid.tumblr.com/
I created photographs that were of the journey that we’re part of, birth, life, death. I wanted to show ageing, fragility and yet still some of what is literal – as with Annett’s refrain, “Hold out your hand” ([Untitled, LS13, 2013).
The first image is not just of a hand. The hand is bowled. We view the inner palm with the centre, where the main lines of the hand intersect at a low point. When we hold out a hand in this form it indicates something that is not actually there, the beginnings of life and yet also clearly a more advanced aged form of life in the texture of the hand that is seen.
The second image is the side of a female face, an ear and hair tucked behind the ear. The ear is the area of focus and is showing signs of age. The lobe is pierced yet not being used for any jewellery and there is an indentation line that runs almost vertically from the piercing site to the lower side of the lobe. The ear is known as a symbol used for listening, it can also be used to represent receiving what is unwanted. It’s not possible to close one’s ears, to words, which may be of hate and psychologically damaging and the ear is, here, representative of what vulnerability we might have to being harmed.
The third image of the three taken, is of an eye. The framing of the photograph cuts right through the pupil of the eye showing us half of the eyeball and some of the surrounding facial area. The eye has not been cleaned of any ‘blemishes’ to the white area, nor has the skin been retouched. The catch light in the pupil shows but it is clear that this is not an eye being used to depict beauty but one that has seen and has won the ability to see by time and the trials of life.
Each image is created to represent the challenges of birth to maturity. Ageing is seen throughout to represent fragility but the images don’t repeat themselves. The three are intended to sit together and have been converted to monochrome that they clearly show the tonal range of living in the creasing of the skin and the ‘damage’ of the eye, its’ blood marks showing. I feel they do sit well together visually though they are certainly not triptych images and would need to sit separately as intended. I would hope that the three are suitable to convey the intention of beginnings – fragility – awareness/maturity with an undercurrent of the ageing process, though I am aware that more photographs would be suitable to truly develop a project based on the poem [Untitled].
A development of the a project based on the poem and a personal response to the writing was something I considered. [Untitled] did, on some readings take me back to a personal experience from 1995. I considered whether it would be possible to create photographs that were constructed realities that would depict something of the horror that I felt as a response to the choices of many. Whether my sense of Annett’s poem is correct or not, it was my feeling of violence being within the many layers of its’ form that took me to a memory that came to the fore from my subconscious, only two years or so ago. I am aware it could be quite difficult to construct a sense of what I wish to evoke.
My main considerations were of photographing parts of the human body, a greater number than above and perhaps differently. Larger body shots were the main consideration. If I were to develop the project I feel that colour images might be more suited to the other ideas that were considered. The additional ideas for the construction of the images that might evoke a sense of that horror were images of a physical location or locations (if the project went outside of that particular time). The particular memory I felt a sense of when reading Annett’s poem, was of something that took place in a place that is difficult to name. If I am aware that if something takes place that is illegal, even 22 years ago, that happened within the walls of a legal place of business or a legal entity, I feel I would be restricted to only alluding to the location at a level that is not derivable. That brings the idea of using layers of location as texture at a low opacity, possibly multiple layers, not necessarily globally, across the body shot and perhaps adding other layers to depict light or colours of decay.
I may eventually bring the formative concepts of this response, this personal response that moves forward into my memories, to fruition. A more fully developed realisation of these beginnings may be something that is suitable for an assignment, possibly assignment 5 or it may be suitable as a personal project.
Brown, W, Editor, (2013), LS13 A New Generation of Writers, Ink Lines – an imprint of Valley Press, Scarborough UK.