Digital Media- ‘Play’ Influences

After deciding I wanted to look into the idea of immersive environments, concentrating on clubs and how they can be seen as immersive, with a surreal atmosphere, I decided to look at existing work that could influence the way I create my final artefact. As my artefact also has to link with the digital world and the ideas around digital media, I will also think about how I can demonstrate these themes and ideas through my artefact while also showing the clubbing environment.

I started off my research by looking at the work of existing photographers who have photographed the ‘clubbing scene’. The first photographer I looked at, Maciej Dakowicz, spent five years photographing the nightlife of Cardiff. The project entitled Cardiff After Dark shows the raw and real qualities of clubbing, not just the fun and music but also the drunkenness and messy nights. Dakowicz’s images capture nightlife fuelled by alcohol and emotions, captured in these candid photographs, which reveal fun and hilarity as well as fighting and drunken exhaustion. The images are very raw and for people who go out clubbing, even if it is not in Cardiff, the images are relatable to.

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These photographs interest me as they are relatable to, and show the real qualities of a night out. In my own work, even if I do not take a documentary approach like Dakowicz, I still want to show the ‘real’ experience of clubbing and how it can be seen as an immersive environment, I will go out and shoot within a club trying to capture the whole atmosphere of the club at that point.

I also looked at the work of Lucien Samaha and his project One Night Clubbing, in which photographs were taken in the course of one night, using a Contax T2 camera, and Kodak Ektachrome Lumiere Film. Samaha attached very small filter gels of a different colour each on the lens and on the flash for every shot. The film was processed in C-41 chemistry, yielding a negative image, not a colour reversal image for which the film was designed. The result was a high contrast image with a shift in the relationship between colours.

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The use of the filter gels, create these high contrast images that are very bright and stand out; the images themselves become surreal and echo the idea of the surreal atmosphere within a club. Furthermore the colours also echo the bright coloured lights used in clubs to make the place more visually exciting and surreal, the colours within one image all link together and could be seen as showing the subject as part of and immersed within the club visually as well as mentally. In my own work, ever though I do not plan to use filters, like in this work, I could still think about my use of colour and lighting to enhance the surreal atmosphere of the immersive club environment.

I looked at the work of Oliver Eglin who took a different approach regarding nightlight, Eglin photographed clubbers as they emerged from the club in the early hours of the morning.

‘For many of Berlin’s techno house cavalry Berghain isn’t just a club it’s a way of life. When Oliver Eglin moved from London to Berlin he became fascinated with the infamous venue, its sprawling interior often spilling well over it’s 1500 capacity threshold despite its fierce reputation for exclusivity. Friday night raves bleed into Saturday afternoons with many re-emerging after a 12 hour stint on the dancefloor, but the strict no camera policy kept Berghain’s secrets preserved behind its high walls. In this new series Eglin shot the club’s world weary patrons as they spilled onto the sidewalk on a Sunday morning, speaking about the photos he said, “I tried to catch them in the transitional stage between the fantasy of Berghain and the blandness of the real world”.’

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The series, like that of Dakowicz, looks at the real, raw and rough side of clubbing and how it isn’t all glamorous. The photographs are very real and once again people, including myself, can relate to them. In my work I do not plan on looking at the ‘after clubbing’ experience, however I still felt it was important to look at different ways that I could show the clubbing experience; I want to focus on inside the club and the immersive environment.

Finally I decided to move away from photography and look at how video could be used to show the surreal quality of the clubbing experience. I looked at the work of Larry Carlson, in which he creates videos that are very surreal; the colours and forms used make the videos seem odd yet there are still aspects of the videos that people can relate to such as certain objects. I feel the use of these odd shapes and the miss match of colours and object with much layering could be something interesting that I could consider using for my own work. Even though Carlson’s work had a different subject to my own, I still plan to experimenting with video to capture the surreal and immersive quality of clubbing, as video can show the different aspects of a club in greater detail than a single photograph would. I will now go out and begin to film the clubbing experience, in hope that I can show the surreal and immersive quality through my filming.

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