Ross School - Senior Project 2006-07
Mentor: Alexis Martino
Consultants: John Messinger, John Snow and Walter Ioss
My project was inspired by images found in mass media. The series was an attempt at creating stylized scenes that generate tension between the viewer and the subject. Many of the images create a feeling of entrapment and apprehension. In my unique imaginary world, the threat of danger creates the narrative, which is both shocking and appealing at the same time. My photographs are disarming; they often interrupt sexual stereotypes and deviate from the norm in subtle ways.
Details: 13 black and white images, processed and printed in the dark room using 16by20’’ fiber paper framed and hung in the middle level of the senior building.
Based on images seen in the media, I created a series of photographs that express the entrapment that is produced on a daily basis in mainstream society. The series goes against the traditional perspective of enjoyable playful images and instead discourages those stereotypes. Because in reality, I feel that those stereotypes encourage opposite effects, and although individuals may strive to reach perfection, often they are taking steps backwards in reaching that goal.
Although I don’t necessarily agree with the stereotypes seen in the media, like many other individuals I am attracted to strong images of flawless models that use sexuality to convey a message. From the beginning I knew that I wanted my project to involve this idealized concept of perfection. However it wasn’t until I finished shooting that I saw the theme that has now become my final body of work. I noticed that the most powerful images were the ones where the models look uncomfortable and lost. I followed this realization by selecting only images that illustrated this uneasiness-to further convey the loneliness that the models are in. All the images have somewhat dark backgrounds and are shot at angles that make the model seem strange and unfamiliar. By setting up artificial environments where the subjects seem claustrophobic and grotesque, the viewer is forced to then challenge the images. They are put in a situation outside of their comfort zone and placed in a confrontational situation that induces many contradicting questions. Although conceptually the images appear disturbing; they are visually attractive. This technical contradiction mirrors the disparity between media intent and affect.
This series visually explores the objectification of women and the media’s message to society in a deeper way than it began. In all of the images, the model is meant to appear as though they have lost all control and are waiting to be saved. They are stuck in a unique imaginary world where everyone has an opinion on what the model should look like. They are seen as objects and they are reaching out for some sort of control, some sort of way to escape from danger, a way to become human again…
This project was created with many hours of hard work and a lot of difficult decision-making. However I was continually excited about the product. Now that it is “finished” I still feel that there is more work to be done. Although I am extremely happy with the way it has turned out, it’s as though it will never be complete. I am still coming up with new ideas to further my project, and fortunately, I predict they will never cease.
“Beauty and Body Image in
the Media”. The Media Awareness Network. 2007. Viewed 15 Jan 2007.
“Calvin Klein: A Case Study”. The Media Awareness Network.
2006. Viewed 21 Sept 2006. <http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/resources/
Ioss, Walter. Personal interview. 10 Oct. 2006, and 1 Nov. 2006.
Klik. Eleven, Ed. Photography Showcase: klik. New York: Amshow and Archive, Inc, 2004.
Martino, Alexis. Personal interviews. Multiple occasions.
Pederson, Martin B, ed. Advertising Annual 2002. New York: Watson-Guptil Publications, 2002.
Streitmatter, Rodger. Sex Sells: the media’s journey from repression to obsession. Cambridge: Westview Press. 2004 – research on past and present ideology of sexual advertisements.
Community Member (Details)
Walter Ioss: An accomplished photographer who has shot for various magazines including Sports Illustrated.