What is found object photography?
A found object is a man-made or natural object that s found by a photographer and kept because of some intrinsic interest the photographer sees in it. By using still life, found object photography allows the photographer to have control of the elements in the frame and gives them a creative space in order to compose an image by their own design. Different arrangement and composition elements can be explored by the photographer in a controlled area.
Marcel Duchamp is a photographer known for his work with found objects, one of his most famous pieces being ‘Fountain’. The image consists of a urinal turned on its back. The urinal however, is a 1964 replica made from glazed earthware painted to resemble the original porcelain substance. The signed and dated ‘R.Mutt 1917’ was also painted on in black. It is said that the R stood for the name Richard, which in French, is a slang word for ‘moneybags’ and ‘Mutt’ referred to ‘JL Mott Ironworks’, a urinal manufacturer.
At the time, the society of independent artist’s board of directors were obliged by the society’s constitution to accept all member’s submissions, however they made an exception to Duchamp’s work as a result of it being associated with bodily waste and therefore it could not be considered to be a work of art. Many people thought Duchamp’s work was too indecent and immoral to be shown in public, and thus Duchamp appealed this decision but was unsuccessful. Duchamp’s ‘Fountain” has been assumed to be a test to the barriers of American avant-garde art, however the piece has since become one of the most influential artworks of the 20th century.
What is a triptych?
By definition, a triptych is ‘is a group of three pictures. It could be three photographs mounted in a frame, closely associated pictures displayed near each other or three pictures in one image’. The photographs generally have a common theme that connects them together. This could be a number of things such as composition, lighting, background, shape, colour etc. Triptych’s can be portrait or landscape.
This image was produced by George Legrady as part of his series ‘A Catalogue of Found Objects’ in which Legrady aimed to capture as well as explore the ‘secret’ language of objects through ‘effects of displacement and context’. Legrady was influenced by John Max and Charles Gagnon, both Canadian photographers whose work focused on people and urban landscapes. To create this image, legrady placed the four cannisters on sheets of computer paper, a common backdrop, and arranged them in a unified way which connects to Legrady’s theme in this series of images of industry and consumer society. For this series of found objects, the photographer went to vacant sites, gathering cast-off objects and placing them in a controlled environment he has created.
The photographer of the triptych above is unknown, however I was intrigued by this series of photographs, following a pattern of interest I have in subjects whose faces are hidden in a way, like Francis Bacon’s triptych below. The three photographs in this image have two common elements that connect them together, the first being the subject himself. The subject wears the same clothes and hat in all three pictures and combined with the monochrome look, I believe it draws more focus to the subject and his hidden identity. The first image shows a quick shutter speed capturing the smoke from the cigarette which covers the subjects face, the second image has a slower shutter speed causing the subjects face to blur and the final image shows a shutter speed in between the others. The composition of the first and third image is the same, both facing the camera with his hat tilted the same way, whereas in the second image, although the subjects is body is facing the camera, the blurred face means there isnt a clear view of where the subject is looking.
The image above is an triptych consisting of artwork. The artist who created this is named ‘Francis Bacon”, a renaissance philosopher from the 19th century. I found this particular piece of his very interesting for many reasons. Firstly, the colours used are vibrant and eye-catching using an unusual shade of orange as the background in all three pieces of art, the orange is contrasted with the pale pink of the male subject, green furniture and some black in the middle. Bacon has used shadows and toning to give the art some depth, which without, would look extremely flat. The main common theme in this triptych, besides the orange background, is the male subject. Only a small portion of his face is shown in all three paintings however, a lot of the audience’s attention is drawn toward him because of his pale pink toned body and the different ways he is positioned and composed in each painting. In the two paintings either side of the middle painting, he is sat on a chair facing the middle painting. The middle painting however, shows the man climbing out of the painting into darkness in the middle of the painting.
For my Triptych, I decided to use white background for my objects and also to keep the majority of the images monochrome, with a splash of colour in each image. My choice here was influenced by Charles LeGrady’s use of monochrome in his work and also Francis Bacon’s excellent use of orange/red colours in his work, which inspired my middle image as I used an a red/orange coloured liquid inside a mug in order for the image to stand out inside the triptych. I found these objects in a friends room and asked if i could borrow them for a while to photograph for which they happily agreed.