“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao-tzu

It is easy to fall back into old patterns.

I had hoped that by choosing Jungian archetypes for this term focus that I might tap into creativity and get away from a pragmatic approach.

In my tutorial with Patrick Sutherland on November 1st, I realised that I started this project in my usual fashion, producing an outline and mapping it out; seeing it before it is done. This is safe and controlled.

I have since scrapped this first idea that was to be a video composition integrating stills with video. I was going to lead with symbolic images capturing the feminine principle, ease into a series of women’s portraits, then add voice overlay of each person reading a stanza from a Maya Angelou poem. This was to represent the anima archetype. After reflection, I did not feel that it captured the anima archetype and that it could be banal.

This second school term is dedicated to “The Rethink” which requires us to challenge our comfort zones, to try new things in photography and to turn our current practice on its head.

As a departure from my current way of working and from this original proposal, Patrick encouraged me to let go of planned composition. Rather, he wants me to begin by simply producing street photography through emotional engagement. The point: think of how I am approaching it rather than how it may turn out.

Patrick’s process harnesses the journey and it allows me to suspend judgements’ along the way. I need to go with the flow. While, my usual approach focuses on the product rather than the experience. I can see how how limiting my habitual way is for the creative process.

Instead of defining an objective for each day, I will shoot what compels me and not judge my choices. From this stream of consciousness I should find archetypes in the photography, since in theory they are universal to society and should be self-evident. I am combining this with the meditation approach, to channel my subconscious to fuse the images.

Basically, I am diving in and will see what comes. After I produce some work I can see along the way what I can create. It is such a different way for me to work that it makes me uneasy. It is so unformed, so open-ended. I am not photographing to capture a moment, but rather a concept and of how I feel. I have no idea what the final product will look like.

Patrick provided many insights during our tutorial:

  • You are going on an interesting journey. I understand the idea of social ideas of femininity and how they are imposed upon people. But, I don’t see the idea of the archetype is in this. If this is where your journey has taken you that is fine, but you have made a departure from your vision of the archetypes.
  • Start with a list of archetypes. Can they be reconstructed in a way that works visually? If they can, then you have the starting point of a project. But, if photography is too reductive, than it is not viable.
  • You are taking this idea of archetypes and that they are universal – that these are the basic human condition. Anthropologists would question this, but we may see that this is true of all human beings – that the universal condition of being human is linked to the structure of the human consciousness. Can you find these archetypes, these manifestations out on the street? Find them around you in people’s behavior, in advertising, etc. Work in a much less controlled kind of way. The great thing about street photography is that it is completely uncontrolled, it is messy and loose and the opposite of the way you normally approach it. You may find some of these figures are around us all the time; you just have to find a way to recognize them.
  • There are quite a number of technical things that you want to do, intercutting into video software. The pictures are responding to the words and audio and to the concept of archetypes. There is a lot to learn and to consider. First make a very rough version technically, an incredibly unpolished version, to learn the basic technology to see the effect it will have on your shooting.
  • You need to have some idea of what you are doing, but if you try to visualize the finished product too clearly in your head you may find that you are hugely disappointed with the practicalities. Have a clear sense of how you are trying to do something rather than how it will look like. Then it will evolve and change substantially in the process. Keep it loose.
  • The problem with having a particular idea is that it can stop you from seeing things. The meditative approach is a way of taking you away from a rationale way of thinking. You just need to get out on the street and shoot pictures sometimes when you don’t even know why you are shooting something; you just want to take a picture. Don’t over think it. Don’t be literal. I have these ideas in my head and I will see what I see. I don’t even know why I am photographing something.
  • It is the nature of Rethink that you will come across brick walls.
  • Just enjoy the process of photography without controlling it so much.

And, here are a few early pictures in my process of meditative street photography.

A woman confronting her “Shadow” projection on public transportation.

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Animus in his 4th stage – “Hermes”, waiting in the spiritual realm to guide his female conduit.

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Anima in her 4th Stage – “Sophia”, availing herself to her male charge to help him find his way.

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The Collective Unconscious

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“Time is the moving image of reality.“ – Plato

Who comprises The Family of Man today?

More specifically, how may I leverage archetypal images in the 1955 Family of Man exhibit into a visual composition of archetypes today representing our new world?

I am exploring this in the context of our written academic requirements. For the second term now under way, we are required to produce a 2,500-word paper using primary research. This is in addition to our Rethink photography project. We have been given the option of either carving out our own piece of a collective class themed research project or taking on an individualized focus.

I will go it alone to explore the archetypes of The Family of Man exhibit for my paper, since I may focus on this concept for my final photography project requirement for graduation. Therefore, by taking a close look at these issues I can better visualize my Rethink project of the same topic and how it may evolve after.

Since, this paper requires primary research, I would like to speak with multidisciplinary experts to gather their opinions about American and European society’s changes over the years; 1955 versus and until now. These opinions may help me to better understand archetypes in the original Family of Man exhibit and how they have evolved to present day within my own geographic frame of reference.

What would a cultural anthropologist see as the principal changes over the last 58 years through archetypes? How would a sociologist, psychologist, gender and sexual studies expert, cultural and ethnic studies expert, historian, educator, medical doctor, artist, businessperson, politician, or photojournalist see it?

I want to hear what first comes to mind for each person interviewed such as with free association feedback. In other words, I want to hear your philosophic pondering, along with your off-the-cuff insights as an expert. I will provide iconic archetypal images from the original Family of Man exhibit for reflection.

I will not be drawing hard academic conclusions. I will capture the essence of my topic to focus it as a creative endeavour. Art’s subjective nature leaves us all to formulate our own responses to the questions and emotions it conjures. So, even though this study will be injected with expert opinion, the conclusions that I draw will be my own biased, imperfect but personal take to achieve an artistic and photojournalistic vision. Also, realistically speaking, my analysis will translate into a composition, limited geographically and focused to a set of parameters, also defined by what I have access to shoot and to what I will be able to reproduce without copyright restrictions.

My initial take of the supreme difference of then and now is that we have grown into a global community. As mentioned before, The Family of Man was produced in 1955. We now live with porous cultural and economic borders.

I also see changes in the family structure, marriage, the voice and activism of youth, racial diversity across all aspects of society, and more active and visible participation of persons with disability in the workforce and in society at large.

I am at the early stages of defining my academic and photographic projects. I will take this global idea and narrow it to a workable plan. So for both the photography and written piece, I will continue to sharpen my focus of and within archetypes to compartmentalize.

Ultimately, I hope to capture archetypes in an abstract or symbolic way, as well as, intermingling these with tangible images.

The number of archetypes that I finally explore photographically depends on how it goes for the first set that I would like to consider as a test run focusing on one archetype. The first attempt will help me find to my method of approach, possible subjects for shoots, and maybe some documentary archival photography to integrate.

What I do next is strongly influenced by the coaching that I will receive during tutorials, so I do not know how it will evolve. If I choose to expand this assignment for my final project for consideration of graduation, following Rethink, I would then go into more depth.

I am looking for multidisciplinary experts who would be available for an interview and who would not mind being taped. I may want to use parts of the interview for voice overlay to the photography piece.

First term assessment and next steps

We each recently received our first term verbal assessment. This is where we review with one of the professors how it went for us and we discuss a bit about expectations for the new term now under way.

The feedback that I received was helpful and I feel that I am on track. We were on the same page and I am excited for the next stage.

In my first term project, I did a standard photo story in book layout format. I produced a sequence of images with text portraying a wheelchair basketball team’s season. I took the viewer through a narrative from beginning to end. It was a linear form.

He said that I essentially achieved my goal with room to grow. I also learned a lot for how I could make it better next time, which is what I had hoped for.

My first term project — Basketball Unlimited

http://issuu.com/dleydorf/docs/28_aug_2013_dl_-_basketball_unlimit

I now want to be more creative, which is also the expectation.

Our new term assignment is called the “Rethink” project. We need to reinvent our approach, getting away from our comfort zones. My images may now be more symbolic or even abstract. I am hoping this will help me to integrate more creativity into my work later on.

During my assessment session, I received encouragement for my Rethink project idea. I will explore Jungian archetypes through photography. I am re-conceptualizing the famous exhibit by Curator Edward Steichen, “The Family of Man”, but of course on a much smaller scale. Steichen’s intention was “to prove, visually, the universality of human experience and photography’s role in its documentation”.

The Family of Man Exhibit

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Family_of_Man

I may be able to expand this idea later into my final major project for graduation, depending on how it goes.

Carl Jung conceived archetypes. They are universal symbols across humanity  – in every era, society, country or culture.  We may see them in our dreams or know them on a conscious level. They tell us who we are as a person and as a people.

Two examples are ‘anima’ and ‘animus’, which are the feminine and masculine principles. Femininity and masculinity are in us all, regardless of our sex, gender or sexual orientation. These archetypes may take on different cross-cultural meanings and evolve over time. Imagine what it meant to be feminine in America during the 1950’s versus now and how it was and is presented in art and journalism.

Another example is the ‘mother’ archetype. Over time societies have depicted the mother symbolically in a range of ways, both tangible and abstract. There is the Virgin Mary and Mother Nature, or symbols of fertility, along with a range of other representations.

The advertising industry makes masterly use of the emotional appeal of archetypes to manipulate consumerism. Imagine a close-up of an athletic man in black on a mud-ridden motorcycle with the engine roaring, angled and ready to descend a steep and rocky mountain, as masculine branding for a dirt bike.

There are scores of archetypes. I haven’t narrowed down what I want to focus on yet. I would love to hear suggestions.

I will explore a bit with my camera and see what I find as a start. We will have a practice photo assignment soon to help us get going. I am also considering using audio and video with still photography to produce a video compilation. I am not sure how it will all come together in the end. I will decide how I will produce it as I collect the imagery.

There is room for creative exploration. I will need a lot of coaching as I go along. I expect trial and error. We have been told that the learning process is as important as the final product, if not more. I will keep you posted.