Cutting hair and a phone conversation
I decided to work with one of my cousins, Alexander Lewis and myself. The visual documentation of this project is not about family but about the act of cutting hair.
Although the roll of being related to each other does play a part in the visual presentation of the project. I could have worked with models but I chose not to do that. My cousin and I show some similarities in our appearance; still we don’t look exactly like each other. The subtle similarities in our expressions and appearance are what I was looking for during my documentation. I think that this element makes the visual presentation stronger and enforces the concept and process I’m trying to show within my work. Next to these aspects we have strong band with each other with left me space to work quite intimately with my cousin and to create an atmosphere were my cousin is not always aware of the camera. As a result I got different expressions and emotions in the documentation I made of him.
My cousin and I cut all our hair off and photographed this step by step. We both did this because we wanted to have change, we wanted to look different. I used this transformation of appearance as a key point in the visual presentation of this project.
An extreme change seems to be a thing that really obsessed me. The relation between the perception of identity and the way you look seemed to relate to each other. Why would one want to change, so drastically? Alexander and I where obsessed with the idea of cutting our long hair as short as possible. For me it was interesting to see how I would feel with short hair and if it changes the way you see yourself and the way you act. Could a change of the surface of the body affect the mental state and personality which is formed inside of the body?
I intend to think it does, ever since I cut all my hair of I felt different. I almost felt like a different person. Is it the way we divide the way we dress in subcultures relating to specific behaviour which fits the look belonging to that subculture? I was wondering how much I am effected by these subcultures and the way people make a perception about me by the way I dress and look. There was something in this change which made me feel free.
On a warm afternoon I sat down on a wooden bench in the Golden Square near Picadilly Circus. There was a man next to me on the phone. He seemed to be in a mood for phoning because when he hung up he made another phone call. I was curious I wanted to record the conversation by writing it down. I was able to write down almost everything passing by in the conversation. Something of it was typical, typical for the moment and place. I was inspired to work with this phone conversation.
Both ideas seemed to relate with each other. My projects had always contained something of the daily life. Cutting hair and phone conversations seems to symbolise daily life for me. Cutting hair is an intimate process and is done in a private space and mostly indoors. Phone conversations are part of our live inside and outside the living space. The phone conversations I used are taken from the public space. I wrote down these conversations when I sat on a bench next to someone on the phone. It seems to be a normal thing to do nowadays; revealing all your private matters in the public space where they can be overheard by others and the information can be transformed and used in another context.
The images and text will be presented in a grid, in a book stapled to the wall and a short movie presented on a small TV screen with a DVD player. They will appear in two different rooms. The main focus of the structure is the sequence of the photography and the sequence of text. They can be seen as lose pages in a grid and than in the other room as a book. I would like to combine the book with a short movie. The movie will contain two video portraits of me and my cousin. The movie will almost be like a photograph but than you can see small movements of blinking eyes and the rithem of breathing and swallowing. With this movie I try to enforce the idea of alienation of a moment when were doing nothing, which is part of our daily life. By stretching this moment and looping the time is passing while the viewer’s time is passing as well. Besides the time passing and alienation the video shows a lot of natural elements, we have to blink and swallow and breath both of our hair is longer since we last cut it. Time is passing while the body is transformating.
The narrative aspect is quite open and can be changed when you look at both works in the different presentations. The lines of the phone conversations are printed on separate sheets of newsprint. I used letterpress to print the text on the newsprint. The sentences created by talking on the phone are slowly resembled by the metal type and printed by hand. The fast moments of impulsive information within the phone conversations are captured with pen and paper than transformed with the type and letterpress and printed. The information is frozen and stays visible; it can be read again and again.
The pictures of my cousin and I are printed on the same paper. The text and the photographs can be combined next to each other with a very simple structure of the grid. The phone conversation and the two persons cutting their hair are two different subjects; they don’t have a direct relation. Although I do want people to create a connection between them. People are looking for a connection, sometimes it will be possible to make this connection and sometimes it’s not possible for people to make a clear connection and they might be a bit confused.
I think it’s interesting to combine these two basically things of our daily life to create confusion. I am inspired by a development in the form of alienation created by the grids and the book. The most basically things of our life can create a feeling of alienation. This feeling is created by taking elements from our daily life and putting them in another context. For example; you usually cut your hair in a hairdresser and most people don’t cut long hair to almost any hair. The photographs are taken in a studio with professional studio lightning. The person is surrounded by a white background which gives an abstract of cutting hair under normal circumstances.
The phone conversation is edited and doesn’t give all the information from the actual conversation written down with pen and paper.
Working with these two human acts of daily life seems to relate to my other projects which are also developed in the transitions of the private space and public space and the passing of time within this space.
The key point why my work relates to book arts is because of the sequences, the development of a narrative and the use of text and photography. For me a book is something containing some pages. Because there is always more than one page the book symbolises a series or sequence. I use this sequence by using more than one photo. The combination of two elements can produce tension. This tension is extremely important in my work; I try to use it in varieties ways.
These are elements I intend to research intensely in my future projects.