STUDIO PRACTICE 2A
Conceptual and Divergent Thinking – Two Peas in a Pod
Relates to Outcomes: 3
The idiom ‘’like two peas in a pod’’ stems from the idea that we collectively appreciate the same things, that we are two of a kind and that we do practically everything together, (see the free dictionary online for a description).
I wanted to convey that imagery within the genre of conceptual thinking; that peas somehow go together. And that, even though they are full of nutrition, you would never only ever just eat one pea because eating a whole bunch of them is more fun and even more nutritious.
Conceptual I acknowledged that peas of course ripen in a pod so that they become good enough and ripe enough to eat so I have attempted to convey this in a user friendly way that would be appropriate for young children and young adults. So, my campaign is directed at children and young adults, because they consistently fail to eat their 5 a day, (July, 2012: Britons fail to reach their five a day fruit and veg goal: Selvadurai: BBC News).
In order for them to feel that peas are friendly and that they would only ever be good for you, so that ultimately their very friendliness makes you far more likely to eat more than one pea. The remit was to create and make peas interesting, so I have considered advertising for children (and young adults) in my creation as a means to encourage healthy eating.
Including the conceptual exercise of the whisk, this study has shown in part that the work of Andre Kertesz has had some influence over the style and narrative of the compositions. Kertesz, like myself is not bound by the principles of technique, but in expression and although the remit of this set of photographs falls into what I would refer to as advertising or editorial, the exercise was intended to reveal the two peas in a pod as personality (expression). His work is considered to be iconic and in whole an influence of expressionism I am pleased to gain from. (see research folder for more information).
Advertising uses clear, concise white backgrounds in their publicity boards/photographic stills and campaigns sometimes alienating the subject matter from their source to make them appear more perfect and in this case greener, more round and altogether more appealing. Without being able to access a studio setting, I created an environment that allowed my subject to be isolated from a background allowing the focus/object to remain the centre of the ‘advert’. I used a small salt and pepper shaker that had been designed with the two peas in a pod scenario in mind and took stills of a small bunch of peas creating varying looks with them to further my concept.
Working with an ISO of 100 for stability, in RAW at an aperture of f/5.6 at 1/8th to 1/10th of a second I created a series of images of the peas in a pod being surrounded (and thus protected) by other members of the pea family, allowing the audience to feel like the peas are a safe and healthy vegetable to eat. I then brought in a knife and fork to show how they relate to children/young adults eating them, using bright contrasting colours to offset the peas with a matching background. I then attempted to use depth of field to enable the individual to feel like they were watching the peas from across a dining table and included close ups and where possible reflections on the surface table. I then gathered the peas to form both a heart shape of peas (remonstrating the feeling of happiness and love that comes from eating a pea) then altered the composition to the shape of a pea pod. Additionally by isolating the original pea pod and two peas onto the wooden chopping board, allowed for a determined focus on the subject making it evident what the message was. I tried to change the ‘faces’ on the peas in the pod to make it look like they were having a conversation, so that they ‘spoke’ to children everywhere, thus creating a narrative.
Following on from our research into finding 22 different varieties of peas (to enable our creative conceptual thinking), I thought that this would be a fun exercise in conceptual thinking carrying through a process of what a pea might mean to the young and to how the photograph through concept which could carry across the feeling with a message that peas are friendly, good for you and have an attachment, as in, if you eat one pea, you have to eat more.
Although there is a fun aspect to the photography ‘two peas in a pod’ exercise, there is also a serious side to the composition.
Robin Kelsey writes:
”In the 1960’s and 70’s a bevy of artists experimented with photography as a means of making art from play.” Conceptual art then was considered to be a ‘witty subterfuge” according to Kelsey (Playing around Photography, Aperture, 1986).
A turn in history grappled with the emergence of such practices considered to be the opposite to serious painting and while abstract impressionism states Kelsey appeared to be ”like child’s play” to some, it was treated with great seriousness by others. (Jackson Pollock’s dripped and clotted palimpsests as example). The exaltation of the solitary painter as the bearer of collective conscience struck a cord with the younger generation and Pop Art rose as a rejoinder with artists such as Warhol and Lichtenstein embracing as Kelsey says ”low brow pleasures” thus deflating the momentousness of painterly angst. Photographers however, struggled to locate their efforts in this new medium of expression. Conceptual artists began to critique photographic conventions in order to demistify both serious painting and serious photography using games (Balderssari’s 1971 series ”Choosing a game for two players’‘ in an effort to unconstrain the social process.
Gaming and simulations after the wake of World War II, debunked the feeling of empiricism and so by playing around with concepts, young artists could be seen to both critically engage with a new mode of knowledge in reclaiming play from a bureaucratic activity and in doing so, take it back to a leisure activity. So, within a historical context, conceptualisation developed by having a set of absurd rules, in clowning around and in using prosaic objects as investigation!
Children and young people advertising, TV, Magazines, School Education Healthy Eating Campaigns.
n.b. please note: for further research into peas their varieties and children eating, see research folder.
What were my aims and have I achieved them?
My aims were simply to create a series of photographs of peas that would reveal fun characteristics as a concept. I think I have achieved this through picking out ‘faces’ in the peas and placing them on a wooden chopping board to look as if they are ready to eat. I have additionally focussed on the use of colour to make them appear friendly so that they would appeal to children and encourage the public (conceptualised in an advertising scenario) to eat their 5 a day.
What have I done?
Using metaphor and characterisation I have successfully completed a series of photographs conceptualising an editorial type campaign to make peas more interesting for children and young adults. Ultimately, photography can convey an encouraging message to social groups encouraging them to eat more healthily. Photographs can play an integral part in educating people in general about the benefits of eating peas (which refers back to our original class based exercise: Find 23 interesting things about peas – see research folder for details). For example they are rich in folic acid, vitamin C and K. The overall aim of the series of photographs intention was to portray the pea as being healthy and fun to eat and to characterise them to make them look cartoon like so that they would be more appealing to youngsters.
What have I got from it?
I enjoyed this mini advertising exercise as it allowed my imagination to come to life in creating the conceptualised notion that peas have characteristics (smiley faces) that would be appealing to children. I was able to concentrate on low angles with a minimum depth of field and learnt how to light my subject appropriately using flash both on and off the camera with the phottix transmitters and receivers. Isolating the peas allowed the focus to become the colour as it is a strong identifier to the subject matter.
What is next?
I will consider taking more editorial/advertising based conceptualised shots in the future as I really enjoyed using my creative thinking to establish these series of shots.