Week 3 . Forum. Constructed reality. 09.02.20

Week 3 . Forum. Constructed reality. 09.02.20

My photographic practice although all based around a common related theme, can differ quite widely in the terms of how, or if, it is constructed. My documentary birth photography is just that, documentary, with no construction on the part of I obviously do not , and could not alter the scene, however I very clearly manipulate the scene with my choice of location from where I shoot from, my framing, and lighting. I also ‘construct’  in that faces of staff are obscured for privacy reasons. However, when I look at the scene this is how I see it in my head, the manipulation then enables me to present what I have seen,  so how much of this is construction?

“To take a good photograph, runs the common claim, one must already see it. That is, the image must exist in the photographers mind at or before the moment when the negative is exposed.”(Sontag. 2008. pg 117)


Week 3 . Forum. Constructed reality. 09.02.20

This image from my last module was constructed partially by the parent, in that they organised an activity for their children to do during the photoshoot. However, they would of been doing an activity that day anyway, it was a day they always do science, they would of made one choice or another. However, theres no denying the choice of food colouring in milk had definite constructed aesthetics, but the children were in no way directed, so ‘they’ and what they are doing was not constructed or fictional at all. I however ‘constructed the image’ in that I chose to shoot from the side of the table where the light was beautiful, rather than from the other side, and photograph her sister, where the light was not as aesthetically pleasing. This was a choice I made to construct a certain ‘truth’ , it doesn’t make this scene any less real , just that the reality was, there was another scene in that room occurring  at the same time.

003Fig 2 © Graham, Rebecca. 2019.

This module I am going to be creating some tableaux work.  I will be taking things that have happened in our lives as home educators, real events, and then translating them into a constructed image. Is this fiction or not? The memory is real, the ‘thing’ happened, however I am choosing to portray it in a way that is both visually and psychological stimulating to me. I had researched and looked at the work of Thomas Demand last week and developed the idea of recreating a life size classroom scene focused around a children’s ‘star’ chart. The scene will be fictional in that it is created, the star chart is fake, it will all be constructed, but the narrative, memory and emotion attached to it is real and not constructed. Where does the line of constructed / reconstructed fake/imaginary & real merge ?

EDITED TO ADD 11.02.20 – I have been recommended to look at the work of Jeff wall here as this notion of creating scenes that directly relate to your memories of an event are directly relate to his work.

I spent today researching Alex Prager and Gregory Crewdson’s work, and in Prager’s silver Lake drive book it says “Prager creates a confusion between reality & fantasy by making use of photography & films precarious balance between documentary and fiction.” (Prager. 2018. pg 14)  This ‘confusion’ is what interests me  in these images, and directly relates to my own thoughts, on what in an image is constructed and what is reality . The same can be said for the paintings of Dali or Miro , constructed from nothing tangible, but real, I believe, nonetheless . I suppose it entirely depends on your standpoint in life as well as in art.

It has to be said, there is also a huge difference between a simple ‘using the best available light’ , or constructing a scene ‘passively’, to creating and constructing fully supported sets with crews of people working on them how Prager and Crewdson do ….

Crewdson - Man_In_Living_Room_With_Hole_setfig 3



In Crewdon’s the aesthetics of repression he talks of how he uses windows, doors, frames, mirrors, picture frames in most of his images, and how these are representational of the second self, or hidden self, and how they are narrative devices for representing the framing of an image, and therefore, by construct putting himself in the image. Again, an interesting notion as it is both constructed, and in a way more ‘real’ as the thoughts (quite alarmingly in some cases it seems) have come from his imagination and been constructed into being, influenced from his memories and dreams. It’s really all very fascinating.



Books -

Sontag, Susan. 2007. On photography. London, Penguin modern classics.

Prager, Alex & Govern, Michael. 2018. ‘Double take’ Silver lake drive. London; Thames & Hudson.

Figures -

Fig 1 © Graham, Rebecca. 2019.

Fig 2 © Graham, Rebecca. 2019.

fig 3, Crewdson, Gregory. Production still from Beneath the Roses, 2003-2008 Available - https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/archived/artworks/crewdson—man_in_living_room_with_hole_1/3756878 (Accessed 09.02.20)

fig 4, Prager, Alex. 29.02.12. Huffingtonpost. A behind the scenes exclusive of Alex Prager’s upcoming exhibition ‘Complusion” (photos) Available : HERE: (Accessed 09.02.20)

Film -

Crewdson, Gregory. 2005. IMDB. Gregory Crewdson: The Aesthetics of Repression. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1833704/ (Accessed 09.02.20)


Tate. Jeff wall. Tate.org. available at – https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/jeff-wall-2359 (accessed



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