RESEARCH – SERIES AND SEQUENCE – II – Robert Enoch

The second point of research for sequences was my tutor, Robert Enoch. A multi-talented personality, I had looked at Robert’s website the day I was assigned to be his student. To be quite honest, though I did look at it in great detail, much of it did not register and stay with me.  When I was asked again to look at his sequences, I was amazed at how four months later and perhaps a bit wiser, I was able to relate to his work and to understand his philosophy behind what he does. This I will credit totally to FiP at the OCA. Having read, researched, explored, experimented a lot in these last four months, I have been able to not only relate but to appreciate the thought process and uniqueness behind the different fields that he has successfully worked in.

I started not with his sequences but everything that is on his site and it was helpful for me in more ways than one. I really enjoyed his articles and I could relate to what he said. For the first time going through them I understood what I am seeking an answer for a long time now.

For instance, one of his sequences – footprints on wet concrete –  when I saw it first I think I just went through it – today going through it again made me realize the symbolism behind it and the transient nature of human existence. I understand now what he means when he makes the following statement –

“Like Nan Goldin, Larry Clark, Nobuyoshi Araki, Wolfgang Tillmans and Corinne Day, I am opening up my life to the camera, but unlike these photographers I’m not doing it by photographing my antics with friends or my subculture in society, I’m doing it with visual metaphors that reflect Self, a thought, a process or a psychic condition. This could be construed as a Self-portrait, but there are few pictures of me, it would be more accurate to call it a Mind-portrait.
The Surrealist project was to divulge the workings of the unconscious mind, to show how the mind worked in the “background” under the social surfaces. To externalize the mind’s processes of thought, invention and distortion; of making symbols out of objects by attaching meaning to them; and to make apparent the instinctive drives that colour psychological activity.
My work follows this pattern where images are visual metaphors, thoughts distilled as images and pictograms of existential and psychic states. They are like dream images in a way, not entirely ‘conscious’ – and not concrete in the objective descriptive sense. Something has altered that plain registering of reality and given it an altered mood. They have a metaphorical charge which, I hope, acts as a kind of punctum that stands out with the power of a realization or a dream symbol. They are mostly images of everyday subjects but in such a way as to offer new insights, interpretations and imaginative juxtapositions – changing a footprint in a wet pavement into a metaphor of life’s transience or the end of a road into a symbol for the border between civilization and nature. This liminal philosophical space is where a lot of my photography is situated, in the difficult existential questions about the meaning of life, questions of human integrity, faith and doubt, the unbearable lightness of being.”

| Robert Enoch, July 2016

There is a saying in our language – “kala akshar bhains barabar” that loosely translated means – “To the unlearned, black text appears to be like a big black buffalo!”

Having progressed from being the buffalo four months back, I was able to take a lot more from his work and his personal statement today. Again, the more you learn and the more you research and educate yourself, the more matured your outlook and understanding gets. A few learning points | keywords that I would like to take from this are and apply to my photography are:

  • Visual Metaphors
  • Reflection of one’s self
  • Thought process
  • Invention
  • Distortion
  • Not entirely conscious nor concrete
  • Metaphorical charge
  • A unique or a new insight or interpretation
  • Imaginative juxtapositions

The most important learning for me here (as I was struggling with the question as to what makes an interesting photograph? What is new that hasn’t been already taken and what makes a photograph popular and famous?) was that one needs to look at an interesting way to capture everyday banal objects or whatever the subject of their interest is, thereby creating visually different and unique ways of interpretation.

https://robertenoch.com/hooks-buoys/in-art-somewhere-beyond-the-beautiful/ – A truly thought-provoking article. I thoroughly enjoyed reading and re-reading it. Not only was it an extremely interesting read for me but also one that came at a very apt time – it clarified a lot of things for me on a personal front. I think I finally understand something that I was struggling with to understand for a long time and this has helped me clarify a lot of my doubts.

“To achieve a visionary art, an art of life and exploration the artist must avoid the futility of aesthetics and effect and evolve a personal and possibly quasi-religious search for authentic experience. – Robert Enoch

I understand now that the art of photography should not be restricted to making aesthetically strong imagery alone but it should be more of a quest to experience something in its most authentic form which goes beyond just creating an aesthetically strong image. What is more enriching than “effect” or “aesthetics” is the experience itself – the real experience or authenticity behind making an image.

Question to self – What if one was to introduce aesthetics while doing so? Or make an image which is strong in aesthetics as well as true to its authentic self?

I loved his series called the ‘Horror Show’– I really enjoyed going through these images and would love to know more about how he made them. Really fantastic.

After going through his work, I am left asking myself a few questions though a lot of my questions have been answered also. Inspired to create some work that goes beyond the realm of the ordinary, I am ready to take on the next part – The Narrative.

References:

  1. https://www.oca.ac.uk/profile/robert-enoch/
  2. http://photosofthewordlove.blogspot.in/
  3. http://photosoffree.blogspot.in/
  4. https://amanostudy.wordpress.com/tag/robert-enoch/
  5. https://robertenoch.com/
  6. https://robertenoch.com/the-elusive-subject-sequences/
  7. https://robertenoch.com/hooks-buoys/464-2/
  8. https://robertenoch.com/hooks-buoys/cycles-of-liberation/
  9. https://robertenoch.com/real-horror-show/

4 thoughts on “RESEARCH – SERIES AND SEQUENCE – II – Robert Enoch

    1. I agree Sarah. There are tremendous possibilities each taking a new shape depending upon the ideas and creativity of the photographer and that’s what makes this medium so interesting and so full of learning.

      Like

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