Wednesday, 9 October 2013

To Swill the Trough and see the Death of Photography

Shane Wombat and Cameras
Shane Wombat and Cameras
 G'day Possums...
quite a bit of stuff today so there's plenty of variety ....
We did a shoot recently intended for a calendar and here are three of the shots

Alex Mcdonald Lawrence Winder ballet shots
Alex McDonald

   Tamra and Gus.... Lawrence Winder Ballet Shots
 Tamra and Gus

Chloe P ... Lawrence  Winder ballet Shots
Chloe P 
...and recently, quite fortuitously came back into contact with Juilee Pryor whom I had first met at BIFB 2009.
In  conversation Juilee was telling me about her most recent project which I thought would be a good one to share here.

A few thoughts on the Death of Photography …

I first come into contact with film photography nearly 30 years ago when my father took it up as a hobby when I was a teenager. He would get me to sit as a model for his local photo group and have me to come and help him on weekend trips to shoot in the hills around our home. It wasn’t however until I started at Art School a few years later though that I first experienced the magic of the darkroom. I was immediately seduced by the alchemy of watching and waiting for the print to emerge from the chemical bath and it quickly became one the main tools for my artistic expression. This generational passion has never waned and I have created and shown my photographic artworks locally, nationally and internationally with works in Museums and private collections and they have been published various publications over this time. I have always had my own darkroom as part of my studio and worked from time to time as a darkroom technical assistant in Art Schools.
Some years ago as the digital phenomenal began to take hold I began to digitize and editing a vast back collection of negatives and while I was doing this I began to think about how quickly the old ways where passing. We now live in a time where everybody is a photographer courtesy of their iPhone camera and with the advent of Instagram and other social media platforms people can simply touch a few buttons and apply a few filters and hey presto and instant artwork with little or no skill needed. The savage swiftness of this phenomenon set in place the beginning of a mild but tenacious depression. I realized that I was feeling redundant and all those years of dedicated work and accumulated skill in the art, craft and science of my photography was reduced to pretty much nothing. That may or may not have been a realistic conclusion but it was how I felt and it gnawed away at me for some time.
Eventually after a big photo media exhibition in New Zealand I returned to Sydney and knew that the next thing I need to work out of my system was this persistent irritation with the new ways of photography. As my photographic vision has never wavered I had to do this in order to be able to go on as a photographic artist being able to use what tools were available to me and if that meant digital then digital was what I needed to get my head around.
Sitting in my studio one day with a local newspaper in my hand looking at an advertisement for a PiƱata workshop and reflecting on how annoying it was that newsprint also was going the way of the dinosaur and how much I was going to miss that bit my daily life. Which is when the genesis of artwork that became ‘A Few Thoughts on the Death of Photography …’ came to me. 

Camera detail Juilee Pryor
Camera detail Juilee Pryor

I began using a basic Papier Mache mix to create a mould around some old vintage cameras I had and then cut the mould off it and remoulded it together so get a hollow and almost realistic copy of the camera. This I allowed to dry and then gave it six coats of high gloss white enamel paint. The effect was a little like a ghost of the actual camera and while it fitted into the body memory of the item in my hand it also was very different. The camera looked almost like the real thing and yet totally unreal at the same time. Once I had begun I could not stop and over a three month period produced and entire analogue darkroom from Papier Mache. 101 items in total make this single artwork. 

Camera and gear  Juilee Pryor
Camera and gear  Juilee Pryor

So ‘A Few Thoughts on the Death of Photography …’ is a sort of Momento Mori and a way that I can look back over the chasm of change and honour what has been and then turn and step forward into the future of photography. La Roi est Mort. Via Le Roi and all that. The paper darkroom is displayed on a long table draped with black fabric like and old fashioned tableaux and all the various items that make up the darkroom are arranged upon it in various ways. 

Table Piece Camera and gear  Juilee Pryor
Table Piece  Juilee Pryor
They are all the same high gloss white and I envisage it in a darkened room with strong over strength spotlight playing on it so it is reminiscent of a marble sculpture. This bold multi- part work is a sculptural interpretation of the idea of analogue photography as a form of creativity that is becoming redundant. It is both a Memento Mori and a way of honouring the art, craft and science of the wet darkroom. It is also a way to open a conversation about the idea of the death of analogue which is one that hasn’t happened yet and I believe is needed.
Table Piece Camera and gear  Juilee Pryor
Table Piece Camera and gear  Juilee Pryor

 I don’t think I’m the only one out there who has been feeling disgruntled and strangely out of sorts when they see an Instagram photo or when they can’t buy a roll of film.
The artwork comprises one hundred and one individual pieces in total including sets of trays in various sizes, tongs, developing tanks, film canisters, jugs and beakers, boxes of paper and all sorts of other sundry items. There are nine different cameras and these are doubled up with one being black and one being white. This is to represent the shadow side of photography. As all of these have been created by moulding them around and actual darkroom item and then cut off and remoulded they are rough and fragile and obviously hand made so they look right and not right simultaneously. 

Table Piece Camera and gear  Juilee Pryor
Table Piece Camera and gear  Juilee Pryor

All these items are like little ghosts or chimeras designed to satisfy the body memory of being in the darkroom while also being a representation of the idea of the darkroom. And most interesting of all is that the best way I could come up with to talk about the idea of The Death of Photography was by not using photography.  This complete simulacrum of a darkroom is my own homage to what is passing and serves as a bridge between digital and analogue photography and my own responses to different ways of creating photographic imagery.
This bold multi- part work is a sculptural interpretation of the very idea of analogue photography as a form of creativity that is becoming redundant. It is both a Memento Mori and a way of honouring the art, craft and science of the wet darkroom. As photography becomes a new digital form of language available to all via the iPhone and Social Media platforms like Instagram, we segue into a time where everybody is a photographer. The paradigm shift is so radically different to the slower skill based experience of analogue photography that something vital and magical seems to be passing from the world. This is my way of acknowledging this and moving on in to the future of photography.

Mrs Wombat and I visited Frogmore Nursery  again... there's always something to experience there
Frogmore Nursery
Frogmore Nursery

 be it the peaceful order or

Frogmore Nursery
Frogmore Nursery, Tulips
the last riotous blooming of the Tulips

Frogmore Nursery
Frogmore Nursery "le vue Chateau"
 or something small and diverting

Frogmore Nursery
Frogmore Nursery Office  window
Frogmore Nursery
Frogmore Nursery

 Wombat Droppings or the Low-down on Politics in Oz

To swill the trough

A blanket ban on his minions talking to the press by Prime Miniature “Rabbott” really doesn’t matter. You wouldn’t hear them anyway for the noise of the snouts in the trough.
That the Prime Miniature, his Attorney General, his Foreign Affairs and Agriculture Ministers, the Speaker of the House (probably) and numbers of others of the Liarbrils have all been re-paying monies they have rorted from the taxpayer over a number of years is disgraceful. That they have been rorting the taxpayer whilst venomously pursuing others for doing the same, often for lesser amounts, but only as political pay-back exposes once again, their putrid, hypocritical sense of morality and the contempt this rabble have for civil society. That the “champion” defending them is Peter (Rottweiler) Reith, Union-basher extraordinaire, he of a phone rort scandal of huge proportions and he of lying about refugees throwing their children overboard from asylum seeker boats I think fully illustrates my points about hypocrisy, contempt and morality.

Funniest moment of the week was on ABC’s “Q and A”  was viewing Luo Xioapeng a “…founding member of China’s first autonomous reform think tank which contributed to major policies reform in the 1980s…”  and his looking with something like disdain at Liarbril Environment Minister, Greg (Ozone-Hole) Hunt as if " Ozone-Hole" is some ideologically redundant apparatchik; a Pickwickian character with a misunderstood PHD as Hunt was obfuscating about climate change with very rubbery figures.
Kate Ellis encapsulated Labor’s present miasma by interminably waffling before finally reaching the point of being able to make solid hits on Hunt’s Neanderthal policy’s. But full marks must go to Hunt’s make-up girl at the ABC… she had his lips painted just the right shade of “Tarty” Pink to suit his precious, mincing demeanour!

The IPPC report has been handed down and we’re going to hell in a hand-basket!
If a doctor says you should give up smoking or overeating or die, and you ignore his advice, that’s a personal decision that affects you alone.
If the majority of the worlds’ scientists declare a consensus that we are destroying our ability to live on this planet and a minority of political, business, media and economic people choose to forestall action to ameliorate this condition and further their own economic ends, what can we do?
This is an entirely new situation the world is in.
What can we do about these “Quisling” ideologues?
Their actions are not democratic. Should our response be democratic?
How do you bring Minister Hunt to “book”, when with increased heat in summer, frail susceptible people die and warmer seas are killing off the reefs and their bio-diversity?
How do we bring Gina Rinehart and her “Quisling” cheer squad at the IPA to “Book” over land degradation and extinction of species?
How do we bring Ian (Chainsaw) MacFarlane to “book” when “every last drop of gas ..” has been “fracked” , the water table is polluted and farmland useless with less food available?
How do we bring the boss of Monsanto to “book” for wiping out crop diversity or broadcasters Alan Jones and Ray Hadley for lying to their audiences on the consequences of climate change?
How do we tell these “Quislings” they are morally culpable for our fate in choosing “not-to believe-in” the scientific evidence of climate change until it is too late?
The irradiated seas are already boiling at Fukashima.

Cheers Petals,


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