Facing pasts : : pasting Faces

by Stefan Fletcher April. 12, 2009 6726 views

The title is an appalling pun, I know, but I wanted to draw some obvious parallels between what you see in museums and in daily life.

You see, I believe museums represent the future, not the past.

They are a repository of hope, of how we remember today and how we hope to be remembered tomorrow – even those dusty storehouses of misplaced national pride. Museums tell you about who you are now and how similar we all our despite our apparent differences in space and time.

However, museums are those places your kids get dragged to at school if you’re lucky or by you otherwise. They’re the places we go to on holiday, but rarely at home.

But they are the places where the past is given a context, a setting and above all, limits. Too much history is as dangerous as too little. Museums should be a cultural compass, helping us to find our bearings in relation to others, not a mausoleum for beautiful things our ancestors made or, more likely, stole.

Hence the mono portraits set in compositions of recent images captured at my local culture morgue. Apologies for the awkwardness of the vertical diptychs and triptychs. PB’s web architecture has a heavy vertical bias.

I wish I could see someone, anyone among the tired teachers, bored students and tourists performing a cultural sprint, stop and just marvel.

It happens, but all too rarely.

Posts with a similar theme can be viewed here [photoblog.com] and here [photoblog.com].

Oh, and Happy Easter to those who find it meaningful and/or like chocolate eggs.

Technical notes:
Most of the portrait shots were taken with a portrait lens and heavy reworked in Photoshop as part of an on-going project of low-key portraits and nudes, most of which would be banned for running against the Disneyland culture here on PB. I included the last one as one of the few opportunities afforded to PB members to contemplate genitalia, albeit of the 2,500 year-old, highly-stylised, pendelic marble variety.

The sculpture shots were taken today or in the last couple of months as part of another project, glimpses of which can be seen in the posts referred to above with links. In most cases, a tilt-shift lens was used to counter the awful lighting and reflections created by display cases and standard museum lights. Tilt-shift lenses, almost unknown outside the medium/large-format camera, allow the focal plane to be tilted / shifted relative to the sensor to compensate for many optical problems such as the ‘tall building falling away’ effect. They're fantastic tools to work with, but relatively slow (f/2.8) and manual focus only, which explains why some of the above may be out-of-focus and/or very noisy.

I'm afraid the hideous ruin above is me.

As pointed out by a friend, this could give armchair Freudians cause for concern, but I realised only afterwards. In my conscious mind, that is…

I thought I'd try with a horizontal triptych, but it just doesn't work here. Anyway, you be the judge

This polyptych is the only one I think works well here as a concept. You'll recognise the top sculpture as my favourite sleeping maenad in this post [photoblog.com]

One of the few classical sculptures featuring pubic hair to have survived millennia of prudish censorship which continues to this day.

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There are 18 comments , add yours!
Monika 12 years, 1 month ago

would you stand model for me to draw parallel to rodin`s Thinker?
liked the thought about museums telling who we are and will be... this makes even past seen in different light.

12 years, 1 month ago Edited
Thebronzebow 12 years, 1 month ago

Great series. I can tell you've been doing this much longer then I.

12 years, 1 month ago Edited
Odradek 12 years, 2 months ago

Very original post and title :–)

12 years, 2 months ago Edited
Sandra Vermeulen 12 years, 2 months ago

These are realy very nice !!!
They are all fantastic,
1: the faces ful of strong karakters
2: the eyes
3: the lovely smiles of the lady's
4 & 5: the feeling a get from looking at the faces
6: Beautiful body shot !!
7: so sad it is broken.... :

12 years, 2 months ago Edited
Michael Sakowicz 12 years, 2 months ago

Very interesting shots. Love 'em all.

12 years, 2 months ago Edited
Rob Tulk 12 years, 2 months ago

I like this. The second one with the eyes is fantastic.

12 years, 2 months ago Edited
Susan Jane 12 years, 2 months ago

What a fabulous post. Wonderfully done, intelligent and witty!

12 years, 2 months ago Edited
Mehdi Saharkhiz 12 years, 2 months ago


12 years, 2 months ago Edited
Dragana Jurisic 12 years, 2 months ago

so... is the first Zeus, it's what i would imagine him to look like? and you're very happy on that picture, you're supposed to be serious in their company, or not?

12 years, 2 months ago Edited
Hanna Westesson 12 years, 2 months ago

Great set, I like this combination of photos - they all look very alive!

12 years, 2 months ago Edited
Finbarr 12 years, 2 months ago

nice work!!

12 years, 2 months ago Edited
Robert Moffat 12 years, 2 months ago

PS American way of life = Disneyland.

12 years, 2 months ago Edited
Robert Moffat 12 years, 2 months ago

Well - I have to say I love the title - and I love the pictures - and I guess that for most that would be enough! But I did find your comment about museums and them being a 'repository of hope' a particularly thought-provoking comment. Thank you.
And happy chocolate day!

12 years, 2 months ago Edited
Jordijoan 12 years, 2 months ago

grandes fotos, grandes composiciones e inmensa belleza...genial !!

12 years, 2 months ago Edited
Stefan Fletcher 12 years, 2 months ago

The above comments were kindly contributed before I added the horizontal image and the final, "porn" image. Apologies - or a Ted put it - Apollogies (moan...) to them for changing the post.

12 years, 2 months ago Edited
Bogi 12 years, 2 months ago

I like your ideas and the Acropolis museum is really near to my heart.

12 years, 2 months ago Edited
Boszorka65 12 years, 2 months ago

Nice idea. Fantastic images!

12 years, 2 months ago Edited
Jarvo J 12 years, 2 months ago

Nice idea. I found the eyes the most powerful. Maybe because of the poower our eyes have anyway - but it isn't usual to have three sets staring towards us.

"Local Culture Morgue" - fantastic turn of phrase.

12 years, 2 months ago Edited
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