Friday, 15 April 2016

Photography Anxiety Dreams 101: "I didn't load the film!"


Well there we go, that was a nice break. The pile of books has gone so it will be a ramble through blogland for a while, which is nice. For more rambles through blogland do go to the Photobook Bristol Blog where I am posting for the Festival - and buy your tickets here). 

The PBB fuckers in South Bristol have also taken over my Instagram account - you can visit that here. In the meantime here is something on dreams and photography.


When I used to teach ESOL I used to have anxiety dreams, the kind of thing where it's the first day of the new school year, you turn up at class late, someone's having a fight, the room's locked and there's no key, your class is a volatile mix of groomers and the clinically vulnerable and then you realise your pens don't work, you don't know why you're there, and you haven't got any trousers on. Actually, except for the trousers, that was pretty much my usual first day.

I've had a few photography anxiety dreams so I asked some people what theirs were. One of my favourites was  a student on the Documentary Photography Course in Cardiff who, following a lecture, on Duchenne and the photograph as evidence, dreamt that she came downstairs one night and saw a light shining in her front room - she opened the door to find all the pictures in all her family portraits had been replaced by glowing versions of the Duchenne image.

Another student dreamt that his class was staying over at Broomberg and Chanarin's pad in London as part of 'network week'. As a present, they'd brought them a nice bottle of wine, but during the night somebody drank the wine, leaving only the dregs left for Broomberg and Chanarin.  Especially when they discovered the event was due to be the subject of their next book, to be published later that day with guest appearances by the people who had drunk the wine. It was mortifying!

Encouraged by these examples, I asked a few people on Facebook and Twitter for their dreams and this is what I got. I think we all have shared concerns - lost hard drives, broken lenses, overexposed film, and general fuckwittery. 

Unless you're a seer like Lauren Grabelle and have a dream-recording film (and this is not so far away by all accounts. There is already mind-reading technology )

And then you get people like Thomas Boivin - do read his dreams. They're brilliant, like a complete critical analysis of the production, interaction and dissemination of the still image with all its ethical implications!



Jason Scott Tilley: Over flow tap in darkroom was bunged up. Water cascades over edge; flooding occurs prints were damaged.  It was a dream but very traumatic

I have another anxiety dream when I keep putting my thumb through the shutter of a Nikon FM2


Lauren Grabelle: Not an anxiety dream exactly but years ago while studying bw printing and feeling very passionate about photography I dreamt that I could dream onto film (a dream within a dream). I wanted my teacher to know how deep my passion was so in the dream I ran to him with the just processed film showing him scenes from my dream - which was about the class and him - scenes he knew never happened so he would know I must have dreamt them into the silver

Simone Sapienza: Last night I dreamed to lose a tooth while I was thinking at my contextual statement.


Jill Jennings: I used to dream about spending ages setting up a shoot, but frustratingly never getting to the part where I take photos (lost camera equipment, travel delays etc).....was so happy to wake up and realise the shoot hadn't happened yet.


Lina Pallotta:  My beloved photography teacher, the one who left a remarkable imprint on me, says "Lina why you do not do what you should do, why waste your destiny? You should be rich and famous, and yet, you keep on listen to the voice of your evil bitch, why? Stop it and do what you have to do!, stupid! "




David Jaramillo Klinkert: I want to take a photo of something great but I realise I don't have the camera or it is not working or always something happen, an obstacle to take the photo

Chris Hoare: Always seem to have a dream where I'm in a amazing photographic situation, pictures all around. But im fumbling around, can't focus, can't do anything. So frustrating.

Karin Crona Seeing a mesmerizing landscape and the camera won't shoot. I press really hard on the button but nothing happens.

Dragana Jurisic: I had a recent one where my pictures in the exhibition would not stay still - they were dancing in the frames.

Sam Anthony:The standard one/ death of a hard drive with an archive on it. All too real and possible

Thomas Boivin 

I had a lot, here's one: I was sending my negatives to my graphic designer,with notes and comments on how to make a book with images selected (but I was sending, oddly, the negatives). A little time after, I receive the dummy back, though postal service. I open it and burst in rage: the dummy I receive shows my pictures in color! 

I was so angry about that, how could he turn my black and white pictures into color pictures? I ran out of my workplace and rush for his - a couple of blocks away although i was sending my work by mail. I arrive in front of his studio, open the door and rush in: he's not there. 

I look around and I see the negatives on his desk, so I take them and look at the negatives: they are color negatives. I stand, not knowing what to think, then sit, completly lost. The dummy is still in my hand, so I open it again. And I browse through every pages, one by one. All the pictures, that I remember shooting in black and white, only makes sense because they are color pictures. Not a single one of them would be of any interrest in black and white. 

I woke up quite confused about color, black and white, and bought some portra 400.

Thomas Boivin 

And here is a second, in short: I was wandering in a university campus, searching for friends. I entered a huge building, with students appartement, searching and searching from my friend's place. 

After a while I entered a huge flat. Many people where inside, sat in circle - maybe 30 or 40 in a wide living room. They silently made me sit with them, in this big circle, and all starting to stare at me. I was feeling less and less comfortable until the moment where I took a camera out of my bag and started to take a picture of each, one by one, saying loud and clear - although quietly - "maintenant, c'est moi qui vous regarde." ( I am the one looking at you now. )

Thomas Boivin

I'll tell you about another one, that I still have so clear in my mind: I was working as a photographer, some kind of social project, in a big housing lot near Marseille (in my dream). big towers as there are averywhere, but in my dream they where right nearby the sea. 

I was there, for a month or so, photographing the people living here - some social-photography stuff. So, i was there and I had with me an assistant. She was young, 18 maximum, and living in the area. I recruited her, and we worked together and she was so happy to do something interresting for once, in this place of despair. 

So we both made an exhibiton. We where there, together, nearby the sea, under a "kiosque à musique" (a place with roof but no wall, to play musique) in the middle of the towers, building the exhibition of pictures of the people & place, for the opeening of the evenning. 

Suddenly her brother comes in, burning with rage as he looks at the pictures we are nailing on walls and available surfaces. What he says is indistinct, but I understand it all: He is mad for so many reasons, one being that a stranger comes here, from outside, to a place he lives in but hates, and the stranger finds beauty in it when he can not. Another is not only that the stranger takes power over his place, transfrming it when he is stuck, but worse: his sister chose the stranger's side, and starts to look and behave differently. 

The man, powerless, feels betrayed and he is so mad at me. (this, I would explain it better in french - and the male/female dynamic and the better capacity of women from immigration to adapt is a reality, in france). We finishes our work and leave him, still yelling at me, in the middle of the exhibition. 

We turn the corner of the building and hear a big sound: brother screaming of rage: we run back. We found the brother now quietly crying in the middle of piece of paper, he destroyed everything and now there is no rage and just pure sadness. 

We walk away silently. I am so sad, not for myself but for my assistant: all that was achieved, everything that helped her out of her condition, is destroyed. but after a while, when we are walking away of the scene, devastated, a little young man, 5 years old, comes at us and says soflty to my assistant: "My mother would like you to take a picture of us". So I open my bag, take my camera and give it to the young woman and I remember saying soflty with a smile: "tu vois, il y'a toujours de l'espoir". (you see, there is always hope.).


1 comment:

Lucy Carolan said...

Hello, can I play too?

Here's one of mine - http://thelostness.club/lucy/2012/05/do-the-rich-dream-of-tatties-and-neeps/

Cheers, Lucy

Featured post

Thanks for the Memories, Gazebook Sicily!

Gazebook was fantastic! If you don't know it, it's a festival that takes place in the small town of Punta Secca on the south ...