This week brought up another aspect of photography which I rather ignored so far - the collaboration, contribution, and participation.
According to the theorist of photography and visual culture - Ariella Azoulay:
"(...)collaboration always already lies at the basis of the event of photography; collaboration is its degree zero, as photography always involves an encounter between several protagonists in which the photographer cannot claim an a priori monopoly on knowledge, authorship, ownership, and rights.(...)"
This is one of the reasons I have not considered photography as the medium of my choice for long time. I was bothered by that shared authorship, rights etc. Painting and drawing was my comfortable zone because whatever I did was entirely mine. But how narrow minded and totally not up to date thinking it is one can only see when exposed to the examples of stunnig, thought provoking, innovative, intriguing works of many artist who do take on board the collaborative opportunities.
It is not that easy though for me… The last two collaborative micro projects gave me surely a lot of material to self reflection. I think I don’t get along well with other people, I quickly get frustrated, irritated, disappointed etc. when I have to face different opinions/ideas. I think I am quite despotic when it comes to the decisions which may affect my artistic expression, especially if I have some vision of the project outcome. I find collaboration emotionally draining as I don't want to hurt anyone but in the same time don't want to sacrifice and compromise my ideas. Maybe it is just a matter of practice, getting used to it and finding my very own way to deal with it...
The activity associated with this week subject definitely helped me to highlight the benefits of being open to collaborations. The final result may not be visually impressive but the process of making it was informing and thought provoking.
So what was the activity?
We were asked to form groups, then collaboratively come up with the subject, gather the photographic material from other people with some crowdsourcing methods and finally make the zine.
My group consisting of four students: Katie Watson, Philip Singleton, Simon Fremont and myself come up with the Windowsill subject. Each of us used the most convenient methods of collecting the photographs from people we know and total strangers. I posted the short message about the project objectives formulated by Philip on Facebook and sent individual emails to friends and family.
We have collected about 90 photographs during the two days of crowdsourcing so on Monday we were ready to take the necessary decisions about the layout of the zine. The range of style, format, quality and subject accuracy was really big hence the decision to turn this into an advantage rather than trying to unify them by post-production editing.
Following the fruitful conversations via WhatsApp, we decided to create the layout which would be sort of metaphor of the window sill - all the photographs will represent the objects placed on real window sills. I volunteered to create the simple layout in Photoshop and sent a couple of examples to the team for final approval of the approach. The rest of the (all together 33 pages) were design in the following day based on Katie's and mine pairings and then reviewed/tweaked during the two webinar sessions by the whole team.
The pages were composed together in the book format using the Blurb publishing engine and then recorded and published on Vimeo by Simon:
Window Stills zine record.