• josutherstphotography

Informing Contexts – Experiments with Image Placement in Books

In much the same way as Oliver Chanarin and Adam Broomberg’s Holy Bible project used the original text of the bible to guide image choices that then they placed in a printed copy, I decided to investigate whether image placement in book would work for my intent.  Whilst Holy Bible is a bizarre and disturbing work that juxtaposes often disturbing images of a cruel reality (images of war, violence, pornography etc), I intend my images to complement the text they are placed with.


Figure 1: Chanarin and Broomberg. 2013. In the beginning: A spread from Genesis in ‘Holy Bible’


With the project, Chanarin and Broomberg faced many choices of both text and images to include.  Their work is shocking and seen by many as blasphemous.

Their choice of images to illustrate phrases is very often provocative.  For example to illustrate the text “As is the mother, (so is) her daughter” (Ezekiel 16:44), they chose to use an image of a Palestinian child dressed as a suicide bomber (figure 2).  To viewers of the book, this is just one of the shocking experiences that await them.  Other images show blood-soaked corpses, Holocaust concentration camp victims and pornographic images of men with erections and couples having sex.  Holy Bible is not for the faint hearted.


Figure 2: Chanarin and Broomberg. 2013. Chapter and Verse: A spread from Ezekiel in ‘Holy Bible’


Chanarin and Broomberg appropriated many of their images from the Archive of Modern Conflict in London.  They underlined phrases in the bible that referred to images and then set about finding images to suit the text.


In an interview the Telegraph (Davies, 2014) Chanarin admitted that “It made me nauseous to be surrounded by so many graphic images, but also curious. The Bible is so violent, but there’s something acceptable about it. We’re more at ease with violent words than violent pictures.”


Whether or not you like the results, the work is memorable and questions our view of  religion and the world around us, challenging the filtration of imagery by the world’s media into our homes and lives.


My work is intended to inform and not offend.  The images and text I chose compliment each other.

Figure 3: Sutherst 2017


Figure 3 uses a found image from the internet (copyright Steinberg, P. 2017) and one of my images from the mental health shoot.

I placed the image high on the page to make it appear more powerful.  Underneath the image I included a paraphrase of a line from Sylvia Plath “You fool – you are afraid of being alone with you own mind.”  (Plath and Kukil, 2000: 188).  This seemed appropriate given the image.


Figure 4: Sutherst 2017


Figure 4 uses another found image from the internet (copyright Dhayton.haverford.edu, 2017).  This image is a copy of an asylum register and I have placed one of my images at the side of it.


Visually these images work, but are a little flat.  It would have been better if I had placed the images in the actual books rather than on an image.  However, I have been unable to obtain copies of either image used, so for the purposes of experimentation have gone with a digital montage.  The work would be much more tactile if it were a physical item and would probably work better in that case.


David Evans, tutor on the early part of the module, commented that he thought this was “a rich idea” and “a new take on a 20th century ideas of occupying books”.  He wanted me to continue to explore this idea by placing some of my Tinkerbell images into copies of Peter Pan.  My own view is that the work becomes quite restricted in that only one or two people could view it in it’s context at anyone point in time.  The intent of my practice is to make my work accessible to as many people as possible, so this idea goes against that.  At this point in time, I am going to park this idea.  I will reconsider it at a later date.

REFERENCES

Davies, L. (2014). Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin: Bible mashers. [online] Telegraph.co.uk. Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/photography/10958436/Adam-Broomberg-and-Oliver-Chanarin-Bible-mashers.html [Accessed 10 March 2017].


Dhayton.haverford.edu. (2017). Death in the Archive – Darin Hayton. [online] Available at: http://dhayton.haverford.edu/blog/2016/01/07/death-in-the-archive/ [Accessed 10 March 2017].


Plath, S. and Kukil, K. (2000). The unabridged journals of Sylvia Plath, 1950-1962. 1st ed. New York: Anchor Books.


Figure 1: Chanarin and Broomberg. 2013. In the beginning: A spread from Genesis in ‘Holy Bible’. FROM: Davies, L. (2014). Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin: Bible mashers. [online] Telegraph.co.uk. Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/photography/10958436/Adam-Broomberg-and-Oliver-Chanarin-Bible-mashers.html [Accessed 10 March 2017].


Figure 2: Chanarin and Broomberg. 2013. Chapter and Verse: A spread from Ezekiel in ‘Holy Bible’.  FROM: Davies, L. (2014). Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin: Bible mashers. [online] Telegraph.co.uk. Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/photography/10958436/Adam-Broomberg-and-Oliver-Chanarin-Bible-mashers.html [Accessed 10 March 2017].


Figure 3: Found image FROM: Steinberg, P. (2017). Did you know… Sylvia Plath’s Slow Insects and African Pygmies. [online] Sylviaplathinfo.blogspot.co.uk. Available at: http://sylviaplathinfo.blogspot.co.uk/2017/01/did-you-know-sylvia-plaths-slow-insects.html [Accessed 10 March 2017].


#March2017

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