Monday, April 9, 2012

Speaking light review

Stephen Chalmers' Speaking Light presentation at Point Park University was very interesting in several ways, although I was not completely impressed with his actual photographs. The strongest message I took away from his lecture, and examining his project, was how much context in art matters. For his series “Unmarked,” Chalmers photograph places in nature where murders dumped their victims' bodies. There is no visible mark on these landscapes, so without knowing what this project was about, they would just look like unconnected, pretty nature photos. But the history of these places adds so much more to the art.
His technique was also interesting. I thought how he used a shallow depth of field, to have only the area where the body actually was in focus, was a cool visual element. There were several images in this set that I found very visually interesting and aesthetically pleasing, but most of them looked more like snapshots to me.
I think most great pictures, or photo projects tell a story. Chalmers' “Unknown” is a prime example of that. I think because his photos are not always very interesting, the stories are what make his project intriguing. It makes me wonder where else bodies are or were, and whether we walk over them frequently while hiking. It makes me wonder what dark histories surround us both in cities and nature.

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