Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Untitled #1 (Fencers), unfinished, 2010-11

Greg Davies, Untitled #1 (Fencers), unfinished 2010-11, oil on canvas

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Untitled #1 (Fencers), unfinished 2010

Greg Davies, Untitled #1 (Fencers), unfinished 2010, oil on canvas

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Friday, December 17, 2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Self Interview # 3 (‘Becoming’) : October 2010

GD: Let’s talk about the young people in front of the lens…

GD: They’re extraordinary. You know, this project stems from the habit of taking family snapshots and I’ve been taking photographs of my children from day one. Looking back over those pictures… to see them becoming who they are now is humbling. The speed at which they grow and the changes they experience in this early part of their lives is astounding.

GD: Can you introduce them?

GD: Well… in this project I’m working with my two daughters, Madelaine and Gillian, and their friend Christopher. Maddie and Chris are close to the same age, ten and nine (but soon to be ten) respectively, and Gillian has just turned seven.

GD: What are you observing about them as you continue with this project?

GD: Maddie and Chris have been close friends for some time. They share much in common yet I’m also now seeing some of the important differences in their personalities. I think that, in many ways, they compliment each other. They both love the outdoors… looking for insects, fishing, catching frogs, crayfish, toads… that sort of thing. They also tend to be a little competitive. Sometimes this leads to disagreements but they always seem to resolve matters quickly. Maddie tends to be hesitant about things… she’s very cautious when climbing trees, jumping from diving boards… Chris is much more inclined to take chances. Sometimes he’ll push Maddie to take a risk when its necessary and that’s a good thing. Gillian is very outgoing and, like Chris, she’ll take risks. She’s also very imaginative. Gillian will easily immerse herself in imaginary worlds. She loves to draw. Yesterday she said that she wants to become an artist…

GD: How do their similarities and differences come through in front of the camera?

GD: Sometimes their personality traits come through in obvious ways. Funny faces, striking a pose… hamming it up in front of the camera. They each have their own expressions and I see this when they ‘switch on’ for the photo. Maddie will do funny facial expressions whereas Gillian and Chris seem more inclined to use their bodies to strike a pose. The physicality is more pronounced with them. On the other hand they can all be quite introspective. This is harder to describe because the similarities and differences can be very subtle. It is far easier to demonstrate through the photographs.

GD: Can you talk about some of the images that interest you so far?

GD: The project is still in its infancy but there are a few images that I’m looking at. I’ve posted some unedited pictures here on the blog. I’m not sure if I will end up using these images but they each have qualities that suggest potential…

GD: Untitled #1 for instance?

GD: This is a portrait of Maddie near the end of a day at the beach. It strikes me as a very natural pose even though she seems to be modeling for the camera. I like it because it captures the relaxed confidence she exhibits when she is comfortable. There is a touch of maturity in the image that, I think, connects with the theme of becoming… a developing sense of who she is and the comfort that goes with that awareness.

GD: What about Spitting Corn Pops?

GD: Maddie and Chris had climbed up to the roof of our backyard shed and were competing to see who could spit Corn Pops the farthest. I had the camera handy and managed to get some images. The pictures are a little soft because the lighting was quite low and I had to shoot without a tripod. Still, there is something appealing about the apparent spontaneity of the picture and the heightened sense of a frozen moment… with the Corn Pop caught in flight. The kids were having fun and that translates, I think, in the picture. But whether it will make the final cut is hard to say. I think you have to live with a picture for a while before you can really make that call.

GD: The other picture of Chris, Untitled #2, seems quite different by comparison…

GD: Yes… this one was even more spontaneous as it happens. The kids were out looking for frogs and crayfish and I was trying to get a light reading. I asked Chris to turn around for a second and took the picture. I like the expression in this image. Again, I’ll need to see if it holds up over time… but so far I think it has strength.

GD: You mentioned that Spitting Corn Pops is a little soft… as if this is a weakness in the image. Are you striving for sharp images?

GD: Not necessarily. Untitled #3 is an image that currently appeals to me precisely because it is soft. It completely disregards any conventions in composition but I like its unruliness. I’ve looked at this image and wondered if I would like it any more if it was ‘properly’ composed and sharp but I think it would fall flat. The softening of the image distorts it just enough that it brings out the quirkiness of Gillian’s sunglasses.

GD: It seems as if you are currently looking for a balance between quirky and conventional portraiture…

GD: Maybe… although I haven’t really thought the images through in this particular way. But I’m certainly looking at them comparatively…

GD: Is that part of the reason for posting the images on your blog?

GD: Yes, to see them comparatively in a different context. I used to have a habit, when making drawings and paintings, of periodically turning the images upside down in order to shift my perception… to see the image in a different light. I find that it is easy to lose sight of an image when you spend time with it so it becomes necessary to shake up your perception to keep it fresh.

GD: Some of the images that you’ve posted have titles and others do not. Are you planning on using titles for the final works?

GD: Yes.

GD: The titles are important, then?

GD: The images document brief moments in the lives of these subjects. I’m very sensitive to the lasting importance of these moments… the way that these seemingly inconsequential things can stay with us and even, on occasion, profoundly effect who we become. That is something of deep interest to me. There is, in all of this, a narrative… or many narratives… that can be constructed. The titles play into this. I want them to reflect the personal aspect of each moment and the project as a whole… and to lend to the construction of narratives out of the images.

GD: You said that seemingly inconsequential moments can deeply effect who we become. Can you explain what you mean by that?

GD: Sometimes the smallest things become lodged in our minds. Try to think of your very first memory for instance. I once asked a friend this and his earliest recollection was the sound of children’s hoops and soldiers marching on the cobblestone street outside of his childhood home in the Netherlands. Although he couldn’t recall how old he was at the time he must have been very young - probably around three - as he was born during the Second World War. What struck me about this was the fact that the memory was still so vivid in his mind. Such things are the fragments of our lives that we continue to live out in memory. I believe that they help us to understand who we are... to understand that which is meaningful in our lives.

GD: How does the idea of the photograph connect with this?

GD: Photographs can satisfy by bringing us closer to those past moments. Memories can be unstable. The particulars, as we remember them, can change over time… and our awareness of this can be disconcerting. I believe that most of us - on some level - fear the loss of memory. Photographs can bind us to past moments in powerful ways and so they have great value.

GD: Do you think that the images you are producing for this project will have lasting resonance for Maddie, Gillian and Chris?

GD: I certainly hope so… but it may be years before the images become meaningful to them.