Monday, September 17, 2012

Creative Process Journal: Reflecting On the Nature of Photography

In the absence of a specific exhibition venue, the creative component of this project will take the form of photographs, which in the end might be presented as a book or in a gallery exhibition. This constraint, seemingly limiting, serves a  purpose since it will momentarily stop the clock on the inevitable decay and death of the object. 

From the moment they are born as garments, textiles begin the inevitable creep towards decay and death, ultimately turning to dust. Dust, dirt and skin plus moisture from sweat, spills and stains, serve to hasten that process of decay. Add insects or rodents into the mix and an entire collection can be imperilled. Archival storage and gentle handling with gloves or clean hands can help preserve a garment, but it doesn't entirely halt the process. Some of the most exquisite garments from 1880-1920 were made with weighted silks and the metallic salts within the fabric hasten the decay, with the result that the garment can literally crumble on touch, becoming a health hazard. 
The photos I create will in effect stop time, marking a moment in the garment's biography as time and the processes of decay marching forward. 
In Camera Lucida, Roland Barthes wrote about the emotional aspect of photography linking it to the transformation of “subject into object and even, one might say, into a museum object” (13), as well as to death and loss (92-97). Barthes defined photography as an artistic medium that was intimately linked with death as “a witness of something that is no more” (xi). Barthes also wrote that: "It is because each photograph always contains this imperious sign of my future death that each one, however attached it seems to be to the excited world of the living, challenges each of us, one by one, outside of any generality (but not outside of any transcendence) (97). 
The key to transforming these photos into something more than just a documentation of the collection will be to define a point of connection, a defining element in the threads of memory, in the traces of the wearer in the folds. 

Barthes, Roland. Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography. Tran. Richard Howard. New York: Hill and Wang, 1980. Print.