Still Life

My intent for the final project is to revisit the contemporary notion of a ‘still life’.  In French, the practice is called ‘la nature mort’- dead nature.  Employing this idiosyncratic translation as a departure point, I will take a literal approach to the tradition of still lives- reconceptualizing it in the process. To achieve this, I plan to photograph animals in a decontextualized state of limbo-  post pulse, yet not plated as meat. My aspiration is to generate a body of work that serves as a conceptual protest against a socially acceptable and normative practice of animal brutality and consumption patterns.  Very rarely do we reflect on the repercussions of our diet.  The schism between the slaughter house and the Big Mac creates a rift of dangerous ignorance.  Nearly fifteen billion animals are killed for food in the United States each year. They are shackled, paralyzed and dragged over throat-cutting blades…all the while conscious. Our cultural norms of consumption have become the catalyst to the inhumane slaughter of animals executed on a mass scale.

My aesthetic approach will be similar to that of Irving Penn’s ‘Still Life’ series.   With a focus on color and form, the photographs should be clean and graphic.  Although the technicalities have yet to be completely resolved, I believe I will be using my hasselblad with color 220 medium format film.  On page ten, I have included a tentative lighting diagram.  The subject matter will be placed an a semi-opaque slab of plexiglass and lit from below with a strobe, as well as from above with a beauty dish reflected off an umbrella.  This model is, of course, subject to change.  As I begin working in the studio and experimenting, other possible approaches may arise.  My chief concern is that these images are executed in the most simplistic vein possible, avoiding the banality of a one-liner, yet not allowing ambiguity to hijack the concepts intent.  The goal is to generate strong, graphic images that are successful aesthetically, as well as conceptually. In the end, I envision having content that triggers disgust as a reaction, yet at the same time plants a seed of reflection.


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