Fiona Tan

Vox Populi, London, 2012

Vox Populi is a collection of other people’s family photographs, which look at both celebratory moments to the everyday mundane activities. Vox Populi, London was the final instalment of a series that included Norway, Sydney, Tokyo and Switzerland.

Vox Populi, London comprises of more than 250 images from over 90 participants to make up the final work. Focusing on Londoners, the work explores how we choose to represent ourselves, and how we consume the representation of each other. In doing so the work captures the essence of London and its multi cultured nature. The collection of images brings a feeling of nostalgia with images of birthday parties and dull English beaches and manages to depict a very rich and intimate portrait of a city.

This idea of collecting photographs and collating them can be applied to my work as I am working with found imagery. I like the idea that Vox Populi almost creates a small archive or the beginnings of one depicting the story of a city.

Looking at this work has made me realise the potential my work has to expand even further. I have a very large family and to take this work further I could collect even more old family photographs, turn them into postcards and have my whole family write their memories onto them. Collating the postcards as a whole piece of work, this could create a larger fragmented narrative of my family and our story collectively.

Mrs Merryman’s Collection

MACK Books – Anne Sophie Merryman

Mrs Merryman’s Collection is a collection of original postcards that document the discoveries of Mrs Merryman between 1937 and 1980, which was inherited by her granddaughter. She was a keen collector with an eye for the unusual. The images in the collection are not exactly what you would expect from a 1930’s travel keepsake. Some of the images are mundane and surreal and seem a bit insignificant to travel or location and instead show an inside look to that particular moment or memory. Mrs Merryman never actually travelled which makes her collection more intriguing and insightful, looking into the mind of a woman with a sharp eye and maybe a desire for adventure.

The book presents the postcards together which create a story of two different lives; one life lived travelling through postcard images and the other whose life and relationship to her past and present were influenced by the collection.

Having the postcards presented in the form of a book to tell a narrative is an interesting way to look at old postcards in a conceptual way. I like the idea of presenting postcards out of the norm and is something I could consider doing but at the same time I think it removes a lot of the intention behind a postcard. The interaction you get with a postcard and book are different and in terms of creating a fragmented interactive narrative, having actual postcards may be more intriguing than creating a book.

Larry Sultan

‘Pictures from Home’, 1982-91

‘Pictures from Home’ cleverly challenges the fine line between fact and fiction within the images and narrative presented. The work is based on Sultan’s family memories taken from old home movies. He created his own contemporary photographs in reference to his parent’s old movies and photos exploring a more comprehensive understanding of family. By photographing his parents, Sultan reverses the social norm, blurring the sense of power and identity that is experienced by both in front of and behind the camera.

He photographs his parents in their day-to-day lives, his father in retirement and his mother home-selling in the setting of the typical suburban American dream. Accompanied with the photographs are personal quotes from both of his parents that contemplate their current relationship to one another. These voices work with and against the photographs; sometimes stating the obvious and other times contradicting the documented truth entirely.

The way the work appears, it looks at family in a very constructed way but with the voice of his parents it also addresses a very honest side of it, capturing homely family moments.

Looking at this work gives me the idea to potentially push my work further by recreating the old photographs I am using for the postcards and creating a juxtaposition between the two.

In a similar way I intended to create very honest narratives for the postcards by using the voice of my family to recall their memories.

Joe Brainard

‘I Remember’ 2001

In this book, Brainard uses the form of ‘I Remember’ followed with his personal memories which created a new style of autobiography. Some of the ‘I Remembers’ are very generic e.g. “I remember Black Beauty” and others are very intimate and revealing such as, “I remember that for my fifth birthday all I wanted was an off-one-shoulder black satin evening gown. I got it. And I wore it to my birthday party”. Some of the memories he recalls are quite graphic and intimate as some of them recall sexual encounters which as reader you find quite bizarre, almost as if you should not be reading them.

All the memories he records seem to come together to form a very personal account of his life, creating a fragmented narrative of his life. In a sense reading his book creates a sense of nostalgia for the reader as you begin to recall memories from your own life.

In reference to my own work, looking at Brainard has been insightful. Not all memories need to make sense or go in a particular order. The narratives I intend to have on my postcards will be individual memories of family members and what they remember about the photograph and the memory associated with it. Often our memories can change over time, as we forget things or add minor details that never happened, in order for it to be the best version of what happened to create a lasting memory. This is where nostalgia comes in.

As my postcards will all be handwritten individual memories, the narratives will be linear and fragmented as they are recalling memories, some of which may not be remembered too well.

Postcard Progress

During a tutorial it was suggested that I have more than just two final postcards. As some of my chosen postcard images have other members of my family in and not just my mother or father, I have decided to have those people write their memories on the postcards also.

I plan to have 4-8 final postcards as my final publications. This depends on the people in the photographs and whether they are accessible or not. One of my aunts is in australia and I could perhaps email her to ask for her memory and then have her daughter hand write it onto the postcard as an improvise.

John Stezaker

 The ‘inserts’ came about as a natural coincidence of my two main collections of images: post-cards and film stills. Initially I thought of the postcards as representing a spatial anchor to the temporal image of the film moment. Indeed the first were entitled ‘Here and Now’, though the postcard ‘inserts’ tended to subvert this spatial/temporal union by themselves being ‘images of time’: firstly railway trains on perspectival tracks and then water-waterfalls or waves”  – John Stezaker

This technique of superimposing images is very thoughtful and interesting and is something I could apply to my work. The idea of take a still from my own film and overlaying it with another image could work effectively to present as a postcard itself, combined with text to create various narratives within one piece of work.

The mix of black and white and colour makes for an interesting juxtaposition but working well together which is something that can be considered within my work.