Weeks 8-9: Contexts and Audiences

“with each shift of location the photogram is decontextualized and, as the context changes, so does the meaning..”

Berger and Evans (1997) p 54.

I attended the 2019 Les Rencontres D’Arles, a large photographic exhibition held throughout the city of Arles, France. Arles is an ancient Roman city built at the confluence of the Rhone. Cobblestone streets, narrow alleyways and stone buildings typify this city. Most of the exhibits were placed in unused or empty buildings- beautiful, ancient buildings. This context, or setting, changed everything, to me, about the photos featured. For example, an exhibit, “The Anonymous Project“, occupied the entirety of a small, two story stone home. The premise of the project was the display of slides depicting family life in the 1960s in England. The slides had been found (in second hand shops or sales) and the photographers and subjects were thereby anonymous. The slides were displayed on back-lit acrylic panels and slideshows as an instillation. Each room of the house held a different theme with featured images located in the context of the subject. For example, images were displayed in the open refrigerator and a pullout drawer of the mocked-up kitchen. What made the exhibition was the addition of a soundtrack (from the 1940s) and home furnishings taken from that age. It was fascinating. I found myself seated on the couch of the living room, watching the slide show and feeling very sentimental. But would I have felt so sentimental if I had viewed these images in another context, like displayed on the white walls of a gallery. I don’t think so, and believe that context changes the meaning.

Audiences: Currently I am using Adobe Portfolio to house my gallery. It is part of the Adobe Creative Cloud suite and seamlessly meshes with Lightroom. I like that the content is responsive and can be viewed on a phone or computer with equally good results. Observing my work, I have several thoughts: I have put a lot of time and though into the construction of the photographs and am proud of that. I am pleased to have the experience of a photograph develop from idea to execution and end product. As my practice is in development, I can see changes in the quality of the photos over the last few months. The photos were taken indoors, outdoors with a flash and studio lighting, causing variations in color and dimensionality. Because of this, there is not a consistent “look” to the photographs when put together. I will continue to consider this in the future when producing a body of work.

My Work in Progress Portfolio can be found here: https://amyeilertsen.com

Viewing my work, I wonder, who is my audience, or my “consumer”. My photographs have been an expression of me and I didn’t think about who else to which they may appeal. My audience has been whomever sees my images on Instagram, or on this blog. As my photographic practice grows, I would consider expanding into a commercial portrait market. Which makes me wonder what the difference is between audience and consumer is. I think it depends on the subject and the situation. If I am commissioned to work, then my audience would be anyone who would engage me in photographing the subject which they wish to feature. Who would my work appeal to?

Berger, J. and Evans, J., 1997. The Camerawork Essays: Context and Meaning in Photography.