Crash

CRASH

2000-2001

Emerging from a degree course in Fine Art (UCA), this early body of work describes my experience of photography’s junction between report and art as both a triumph and failure of communication. I photographed local student protests over UK tuition fees, and trucker protests at Avonmouth, Bristol, during one of the fuel strikes occurring nationally across Britain. I also documented televised news reporting of a concentration of disasters (prior to 9/11): Concorde’s crash, M4/M5 collisions, train derailments and severe flooding across the South West. The pixellated, symbolic and spectacularised content of these images became synonymous with the dramatic representations of Independence Day (1996), also photographed on screen.

The ‘truth’ of the real events is interpolated by photography’s linguistic plurality and indifference: aesthetic reverberations of a printer’s (mis)translation of photographic information (Bleeding Just To Feel Alive), or of a website’s (re)structuring (for the exhibition WWW, I created a visual manifesto online, ‘Globally Terrorised’), as well as of conventions of dramatic representation in stasis, all disrupt the seamless immediacy of pictured communication. The primary interruption explored here was seen in the uniformed representations of reporter, rescue workers and the police, as discussed in my thesis The Trauma of Separation (2001). Truth in reportage photographic representation is less about the autonomy of the image, in the what or how it communicates, than it is about the authority of the image and in the who is using it. Yet it veils in iconic anonymity even the personified embodiment of this authority, whose photographic reality I experience as a trauma (Hal Foster, The Return of the Real, 1996).