A debt to Garry Winogrand

The American photographer Garry Winogrand, along with Diane Arbus and Lee Friedlander were seen in the 1960’s as part of a photographic movement which stretched the boundaries of what documentary photography was, whilst still finding their places in the wider photographic tradition. Hats are a common motif in photography, but, where previously hats could be seen as a marker of fashion and time, in Winogrand’s images we see how he attaches personal significance to the hat, and so suggests his own personal narrative. In the image below, the hats are not in the frame only because one of the men is wearing one ; they are in the frame because Winogrand uses them to make statements on cultural changes occurring at the time, and also his own creative autonomy to work within a photographic tradition, yet bend it to his own needs.

 

Winogrand’s most well known images often feature a complex array of harmonious,complementary or jarring movements. Below, the brim of hat perfectly mirrors the animal’s tongue, whilst both take the form of the bunting in the background. His dizzying image in an elevator – elevators being another item on the photographic tally – features three people all looking in differing directions and with differing expressions. The  timing makes the image. Would it stay in the mind where it not for the interplay of eye movement and gesture?

 

 

In his 2005 book, The ongoing moment, Geoff Dyer states that photographers are constantly looking at the same objects and places as those who have photographed before them. Dyer writes, “consciously or not they are in constant dialogue with their contemporaries or predecessors.” In my own recent work, I have attempted to make responses to the digital post -truth times we live in by making photographs which feature some visual similarities to Garry Winogrand’s. For ninety minutes last night, I watched Donald Trump speak at the Republican Convention and yet in all that time, I heard him say nothing. The elusiveness which I find at the heart of many major news stories I have tried to capture in my images. The images below feature eyes looking at other eyes, all looked upon by photographs of more eyes, visual tricks which existed for half a heartbeat at most. I move my own personal dialogue with Winogrand’s images into the future by then carving these images up into mini pictures which I then reform to create grids of various sizes, the grids representing a desperate desire to order and control the information flying my way from the world through my computer screen.

 

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