Doors – a Surrealist symbol / motif

Unit 2: The Photographic Project – Dreams/Reality

 Learning Outcome 1 (LO1): Understand photographic research.

  • 1.1 Identify a subject for a photographic project.
  • 1.2 Carry out research for a photographic project.

Learning Outcome  2 (LO2) : Be able to produce a photographic project.

  • 2.1 Identify photographic resources to complete a photographic project.
  • 2.2 Produce photographic images to meet identified goals.
  • 2.3 Identify presentational forms for a photographic project.
  • 2.4 Assess the photographic project.

Learning Outcome 3 (LO3): Understand photographic practice and health and safety procedures.

  • 3.1 Identify and use safe working practices in a photographic project.

 

Dorothea Tanning – American Painter and Surrealist – currently exhibiting at Tate Modern – thoughts on Doors.

Tanning wanted to depict ‘unknown but knowable states’: to suggest there was more to life than meets the eye. She says: ‘’I wanted to lead the eye into spaces that hid, revealed, transformed all at once and where there could be some never-before-seen-image.’’

Works from across Tanning’s career show doors left ajar or leading to other doors. The door becomes a surrealist symbol – a portal to the unconscious. She wants to ‘leave the door open to the imagination’. While the door represents choice and possibility, doors may also be used to lock up our most secret fears and desires – or dreams.

In 1984 she incorporated a real door into her painting ‘Door 84’, dividing the composition in two. In her sculptural installation’ Chambre 202 at the Hotel du Pavot’ only a half open door appears to offer any escape from the claustrophobic diorama. The ‘Behind the Door, Another Invisible Door’ exhibition, highlights the recurring motif of the door “not as a barrier, but a figurative reminder about opening the mind”—the Surrealist raison d’être.

In Surrealism, ‘Rooms’ equal women and the doors, windows and other points of entrance and exit are particularly symbolic.

I took pictures of doors in two locations Ham House and Tate Britain attempting to explore these ideas about doors. Doors, leading the eye into spaces that hid, revealed, doors left ajar or leading to other doors, doors as  a surrealist symbol – a portal to the unconscious, doors representing choice and possibility, doors used to lock up our most secret fears and desires – or dreams.

To take these images with a hand held camera I needed to have a very high ISO up to 10,000. In post production, for some images where texture was not a key factor, I used the Noise Reduction / Luminescence tool in ‘Lightroom’ to counteract the effect of the high ISO and improve the surface quality of the image.

Doors: Ham House

Tate Britain – Doors and doorways

 

Van Gogh from Tate Britain exhibition – though about some of his tree painting linked to images taken of the Hereford Ancient Trees in an earlier blog.

Vincent Willem van Gogh (March 30, 1853 to July 29, 1890)  a post-Impressionist painter whose work – notable for its beauty, emotion and colour – significantly influenced 20th-century art. He struggled with mental illness, and remained poor and virtually unknown throughout his life. He chose to depict himself as a painter using bright, intense colours. He is  famed for the great vitality of his works which are characterised by expressive and emotive use of brilliant colour and energetic application of paint.

Flowers: by Van Gogh and other artists resonating with some shots of yellow and white flowers.

Frank Bowling: ”The possibilities of paint are never ending”. Over 60 years he has relentlessly explored the possibilities of paint as a material and fine tuning different techniques. his large ambitious paintings are known for their distinctive textured surfaces and colourful luminous quality.

It was interesting to look at the colour and textures of these two artists and reflect on texture and colour in my photographs.

Learning Outcome 3 (LO3): Understand photographic practice and health and safety procedures. – 3.1 Identify and use safe working practices in a photographic project.

Taking photographs in both Ham House and Tate Britain I was very aware of the following:

  • being considerate to other people, keeping out of their way or view and and their feelings about the camera
  • being patient when it was very busy and difficult to take shots
  • standing behind doors that at any moment could swing open
  • trip hazards and unexpected steps and plinths

 

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