Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Another way to explore "points of view"
I went shopping for photo books today and purchased Sophie Calle's brilliant (literally—it's shiny metallic pink!) book Prenez soin de vous (that's "take care of yourself" in English). It's not hot off the press or anything (pub. 2007), but it's new to me.
The entire book is a response to a breakup email (that's right, email) that Sophie received from her lover. Ouch. But a lot of good art has been born from love gone wrong (and a lot of bad country songs too, but let's not go there). If you write songs, you can vent through music. If you are a woman in any number of cliché-laden movies or TV shows, you can pull out a spoon and dig into a tub of Ben & Jerry's. And if you are Sophie Calle, you can print out your break-up letter, let 107 women interpret it, and then turn it into a shiny pink book that is heavy enough to qualify as a weapon.
From the guy's point of view, Sophie's revenge is about as frightening as Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know." But if the boyfriend was dumb enough to email a breakup letter to a photographer/artist/writer, then I guess he had it coming.
Prenez soin de vous includes the letter in morse code, braille, shorthand, barcode, and so on. Sophie lets expert women analyze the letter in exhaustive treatises. A researcher gives a lexical analysis, an editor provides a heavily corrected copy (the text is "short and repetitive" and full of punctuation errors—not unlike my own writing), a lawyer outlines the legal ramifications of the man's false statements and misuse of grammar (a crime punishable by death in France, I believe), a clairvoyant does a tarot card reading that doesn't bode well for the man, and so on, all accompanied by Sophie Calle's photos of the women reading the letter, which made me think...
Another way to explore points of view photographically is to physically displace an object. Moving an object into different environments gives it new context and hence, a new point of view. In my Eiffel Tower photos, I provide different points of view by displacing myself (the tower having stubbornly refused to move). In Sophie's photos, as the letter moves from one woman to the next, the angles, expressions, lighting, and body language illustrate how the same words can produce different effects.
During this month, you may want to experiment with how context affects point of view. Try photographing the same thing (or person) in different conditions. See what happens.
Oh, and remember: If you break up with someone, do it in person.