Photography, Cinema and the Drama of Representation

by Les Walkling on February 1, 2016


Andrey Walkling, Fictional Encounters 2015, Pigment Print 280cm x 152cm

As both cinema and photography fragment and disperse across visual culture through the proliferation of small screens, social media and connectivity, photography is both socially eclipsed and socially rooted at the same time. The digital archive has also made available the histories of photography and cinema like never before.

Fine art photography has consequently undergone a shift from predominately documentary photography to constructed photography. That is, no longer is contemporary fine art photography documenting ‘reality’ as much as it is now actively engaged in the construction of fictions or alternate realities. This is a shift from the ‘decisive moment’ to the constructed moment; from the ’representation of drama’ to the ‘drama of representation’.

The research involved working with the conventions of cinema, specifically scale, aspect ratio, projection technologies, exhibition spaces, lighting styles and colour palettes, and how they could be appropriated and adapted for still narrative photography. Studio based experiments investigated the appropriation and application of cinematic tropes such as psychological spaces, constructed realities, fictional encounters, aspect and scale, temporal shifts and screen motion in narrative photography. The ‘art gallery’ was also a significant research site incorporating the display, testing and evaluation of works-in-progress.

The project’s development and outcomes, and artistic, historical, and philosophical contexts were also thoroughly documented through writings, recordings and installation photographs. The methodology encompassed the making, performing, analysing, reviewing, reflecting, questioning and critiquing of the construction, installation and exhibition of new narrative based photographic works in the photo-cinema genre.

As a result, the images no longer document my friends and their circumstances, but instead are dramatic fictions made for the camera combining elements of both cinema and photography to highlight the ‘drama of representation’ in the stories of our lives.

The work was publicly exhibited in the first week of February 2016 at the RMIT University School of Art Gallery, Melbourne, in fulfilment of the RMIT Master of Art by Research program.

Andrey Walkling



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