After creating my latest image with the rose ,I thought it would be useful for me to look at other artists who use mental health as an influence for their art ,as well as artists who work more abstractly and with other styles of photography than what I would normally choose.
Dan Wood was a particular artist who I found fascinating, his series Hypnagogia a set of black and white images which are presented in video form on the site Fragmentary. Watching the video I felt calm but at the same time disturbed and unsettled. Similar to how you may feel when you are trying to sleep but can’t. Wood suffers with anxiety and insomnia. His work is quite dark , disturbing and feels in part like a Alfred Hitchcock movie. They is a fantastic playfulness between reality and perhaps childhood imagination, nostalgia.
The series Hypnagogia was formed from negatives that he overlooked and never printed and he noticed a pattern between these photographs, so much that they formed a series.
Unconsciously , Wood’s series reflected his own anxieties and fears. Being a fan of death metal and the darker side to life ,he assumed that the series just showed his influences. However when looking back on the images he realised that this wasn’t true. His anxieties which were a huge inspiration for the series, Wood states, were probably brought on by parenthood and the responsibility that comes with that.
Open water, the sea frightens Wood despite never having a bad experience with open water. This came from a film called Shock Waves he says, a film he watched when he was young. These early influences and fears have played a role in his life. Lone figures in the landscape being something else that made him feel disturbed too.
The photographs date back from 2004, the whole series is a documentation of his life over the last twelve years. Each picture has its own relevance , telling a story whether it’s dream/hypnagogia, driven, anxiety/depression driven. It’s all about those different periods in his life and how he was feeling in that moment. The main period which fuelled the series was from 2003-08 when he was transitioning from an old life to the new. The house he lived in for 16 years was also an influence as Wood states that it was “undoubtably haunted.”
Wood found the whole process of creating the series incredibly therapeutic , using photography to self ‘medicate.’
In terms of creating the video , Wood did this as he wasn’t quite sure what to do with all these photographs and found by creating this piece it allowed him to express meaning behind the works. This could be something I could look at within my own work as it will help me to add another layer to my photographic process.
The way in which Wood captured small events in his day to day life, whether it be a landscape, the blur of a television screen, the flight of a bird or a set of people stood alone. It has inspired me to look at how simple photographs can portray further meaning, especially in sequence.
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I discovered Dan Wood through a website called Fragmentary. Fragmentary showcases photographic works by artists who explore the complex issues within mental health. You can submit your own work to the site and have a chance to be interviewed and featured by them. I am going to look at doing this towards the end of my final major project when the series will be at a finishing point.
Klemp is an artist from Oslo, Norway. She creates emotive and whimsical imagery using both herself and her children as subjects. Her work focuses on the darker sides of the human mind and this is influenced by her seeing great beauty in dark art and literature. This darkness which has been sustained since she was a child and conveyed through poetry and short stories led onto her using this in her photography. The thoughts in her mind make up the imagery , which are quite dark as well.
Similar to my own work Klemp, uses herself as the subject as she finds it much easier to convey the meanings behind the photographs. Doing self-portraiture also means that you always have available models. Her children play a role in her photographs too, as they know exactly what result she is wanting to produce.
The Veil of Fog which is Klemp’s first solo exhibition, is based upon her diagnosis with bipolar disorder.
Klemp’s favourite work called “The Bird Tamer” is a piece where she is shown to be releasing a bird from captivity. Many have said that the image calms them down and that they have experienced peace whilst looking at it. To me it resonates with the idea of ‘fight or flight’ and the potentiality of letting go of the flight. (the fear) in order to face life.
“The Bird Tamer.”
In many of Klemp’s images she has her eyes closed, as she finds it hard to look directly at the camera, feeling that if she looked she would ‘reveal’ too much about herself and her ‘disease.’ Saying that she would feel naked with her eyes open and much more comfortable with them closed.
Klemp has created a collaborative book called “Between Intervals” with another artist called Jose Escobar on the theme of bipolar disorder. They have placed Jose’s landscapes together with her portraits ,making the work more interesting and providing the viewer with a link between nature and the human mind. Nature since creating the book has played a huge role in Klemp’s photography.
“Between Intervals, is a joint effort of two photographers across an ocean, is a sequence of images visually depicting scenes, objects and portraits of people as found at the edge, an event horizon, right at the moment of coming in or coming out, emerging and entering, sometimes trapped, with a feeling of isolation from others and the rest of the world.
Decay and darkness, overgrown vegetation spreading through doors and window, lonely scenes, places crumbling and figures which are merely silhouettes and blurs, other looking intently into empty space, are images often used to describe such experiences by those afflicted with this disorder.
They even get the sensation at times of being inside an organic membrane from which it is difficult to emerge. Many times they feel they have been marked by the grip of darkness, touched by a sense of sadness, of not belonging, of living inside a world where few can enter and understand. This is what “Between Intervals explores and dives into.”
Text taken from- http://fragmentary.org/maren-klemp/
Quote by Maren Klemp & Jose Escobar
Klemp and Escobar’s book sounds relevant to my own practice, in the way I am looking towards placing these images of landscapes and abstract closeups alongside my own portraits. I may need to look at finding this book for my research.
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