I am intrigued with the concept of ‘seeing the unseen’. Margaret Heffernan’s 2011 book, Wilful Blindness, explores the concepts behind why individuals or groups are blind to impending tragedies. In my personal life and in my work as a healthcare practitioner, I have observed situations where something was not right, but, but no-one noticed, and the effected individual had a bad outcome. I am guessing that many people have had the experience of seeing something – a parent grab a child aggressively, a man lurking, a woman’s frightened glances, and not known what to do. Considering the idea of willful blindness, I wonder if ambiguity, or, uncertainty as to how to interpret or respond to a situation, can lead to the state of being willfully blind.
To explore this concept, I am going to utilize the tableau, or a scene, to express situations where there seem to be activities or things at odds with one another. For example, there may be parts of a scene that seem totally normal while other parts could be ok, or they could be alarming.
I will be working with my siblings to create an outdoor portrait in the style of a tableau. The idea is that a group of people are being photographed and seem not to notice that an object is on fire. Fire, for this particular instance, is relevant as my siblings and I were fascinated by fire when we were young. Not felonious activity, but we did build small structures and light them on fire. It was better than TV.
I am inspired by the work of American photographer, Gregory Crewdson (1999), who created large-scale cinematic tableau. In this work, he uses primary colors, dramatic lighting and odd juxtapositions that inspire discomfort.
This work will be challenging for me as I have limited equipment and lighting experience, however, I have a supportive family and a fire extinguisher.
I have done some research on lighting, model and camera position. I have chosen colors, purchased props, coached my siblings, built a table to burn and am ready for the shoot this weekend.
Wish me luck.