Emulation Project: Working With Wall
For my emulation project I chose to study the photographs of fine arts photographer Jeff Wall and attempt to recreate some of the aesthetics and concepts he communicates in his work. Wall’s pictures range from geometric compositions, as seen in Sunken Area and Blind Window, to elaborately composed scenes that appear more like a movie set. The Vampire’s Picnic depicts several Vampires feasting on dead humans. This image is surreal and highly structured, yet appropriate to Wall’s work due to its play with directorial photography. Wall was one of the first photographers to work with directorial photography, he thought that photographs, paintings and movies could be viewed in a more synonymous way through his work because of the time he would spend setting up a single image. Wall’s photographs are printed on huge paper and backlit to make theme appear as advertisements do. Although I could not achieve such an elaborate presentation I tried to work with the content of the images rather then their staging to convey my emulation of Wall.
I was interested in working as a directorial photographer for this project and chose Wall as my inspiration because his simpler compositions struck me as incredibly communicative yet ambiguous. In Passerby a man is looking behind him at a figure running in the opposite direction as he walks down the street. We come to understand their relationship as strangers and their identity as two people on a street sidewalk late at night, but we are forced to ask why this figure in the background is running and if the man in the foreground is just looking because of intrigue or because he knows the figure. In my pictures I am attempting to convey the same kind of clarity yet ambiguity. Wall recreated many things he saw on the street in more controlled environments such as Shadows and Tattoo’s and Mimic, and so for my project I drew on memories I have about being a student at Oberlin and worked to both communicate aspects of those memories while leaving others up for question.