Week 5.2

Another practice session in the blackbox I wanted to focus on the colour of lighting. Through using gold and silver reflectors as well as modifying the brightness of the light stands, I was able to experiment with the colour of lighting on the doll. The use of low key lighting in combination with the silver reflector created a bluish tinge to my photos, creating a cold, winters night feel. Using high key lighting in combination with the gold reflector created an amber warm feel to the shots. Working with colour is interesting as it holds so much power in shaping the mood of the shot, as well as its ability to give the photo a day or night feel.

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Week 5

In my session today I began experimenting with the effects of low angled lighting on the doll. I used a variation of different heights and positions of light stands, all beneath and facing up at the object. The results of the photos have a horrifying mood to them through the shadows manipulation of the dolls facial features.

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Australia’s very own Poverty Porn

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                                             Australia’s own Poverty Porn – ‘Struggle Street’                                               Image Sourced: Google Images, 2016

In today’s society we can see a normality of objectification and exploitation being presented in the media to western cultures. Over the years, there has been a notable increase in journalists and publications misrepresenting the poor; exploiting their conditions and suffering in order to elicit a high emotional response, promote their own self and to generate profit (Roenigk, E 2014). This practice is known as ‘Poverty Porn’, better described as “any type of media, be it written, photographed or filmed, which exploits the poor’s condition in order to generate the necessary sympathy for selling newspapers or increasing charitable donations or support for a given cause” (Wikipedia, 2014).

Society is slowly becoming more and more desensitised to these portrayals of suffering as we are getting daily reminders in the media and social media of graphic videos and images designed for the sole purpose of generating sympathy and income.  A very recent and topical reality television documentary criticised as poverty porn was SBS’s ‘Struggle Street’.

The three part series sheds light on the struggles of residents living in public housing areas around Western Sydney, in particular Mt Druitt. The documentary covers all aspects of a number of chosen individual’s lives, from their unemployment issues all the way to their problems with the law and drugs. In producing this documentary for the public, SBS have stressed that the motive behind filming these communities are to present to the rest of Australia what it is like to be living in poverty. Upon the release of its first episode, there was an adverse response of criticism against SBS, claiming that the series was exploiting it’s subjects for personal gain and views.

Steven Threadgold (2015), a lecturer from the University of Newcastle published an article on the issues of Struggle Street. He sheds light on Struggle Streets connection with poverty porn, producing ‘objectifying images of the poor through a privileged gaze for privileged gratification’. This promotes the question on whether this series was made to be an informing documentary on poverty stricken areas in Australia, or whether it was made as a reality television show for an entertainment and comedic purpose.

“Pitched as a serious documentary, Struggle Street cloaks itself under the auspices of a “raw portrayal” of a “tough topic” (the producers’ words), but really plays the same symbolic role as parodies and reality TV: denigrating the “undeserving poor”, scapegoating and even pathologising them as figures of loathing, while completely ignoring the harsh structural economic realities that create such poverty in the first place, All in the quest for ratings”     (Threadgold, S 2015) .

Guardian article written by Gay Alcorn (2016) also supports the negative views against Struggle Street. She makes evident the criticism the media and government get for not covering the reality of poverty in Australia, with ‘2.5 million Australians, including 603,000 children, living below the official poverty line’. The reason the media rarely covers this in any depth is because it doesn’t normally rate. In newsrooms, ‘worthy’ stories about poverty are considered downers, unappealing to readers or viewers (Alcorn, G 2016). We can see that in creating this series, SBS has attempted to shed light on a particular poverty stricken area, however, rather than informing Australia on this problem, the show has chosen a handful of interesting individuals in which to exploit their hardship in order to gain ratings.

I believe that poverty porn has become a massive issue in the media within today’s society, leading to a misrepresentation of poverty and those suffering.

References:

Roenigk, E 2014, ‘5 Reasons poverty porn empowers the wrong person’, ONE, April 9th,

http://www.one.org/us/2014/04/09/5-reasons-poverty-porn-empowers-the-wrong-person/ >

Alcorn, G 2016, ;Struggle Street is only poverty porn if we enjoy watching, then turn away’, theguardian, February 28th, 

https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/598886/mod_resource/content/1/Struggle%20Street%20is%20only%20poverty%20porn%20if%20we%20enjoy%20watching%2C%20then%20turn%20away%20%20Gay%20Alcorn%20%20Opinion%20%20The%20Guardian.pdf >

Threadgold, S 2015, ‘Struggle Street is poverty porn with an extra dose of class racism’, The Conversation, May 6th,

https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/598885/mod_resource/content/1/Struggle%20Street%20is%20poverty%20porn%20with%20an%20extra%20dose%20of%20class%20racism.pdf >

 

Week 4.3

Today I decided to work on a technique I read up on during previous research called ‘Broad Lighting’.

Broad lighting is when the subject’s face is slightly turned away from centre, and the side of the face which is toward the camera (is broader) is in the light. This produces a larger area of light on the face, and a shadow side which appears smaller (Hildebrandt, D 2015).

I began photographing around 11:30am when the sun was around it’s most high point in the sky. Utilising the sun as my light source, I started experimenting with this broad lighting , attempting to broaden the features of the dolls face in the sun light. I found this technique rather difficult, having to play around with the positioning of the doll constantly.

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References:

Hildebrandt, D 2015, ‘6 Portrait Lighting Patterns Every Photographer Should Know’, Digital Photography School, 

http://digital-photography-school.com/6-portrait-lighting-patterns-every-photographer-should-know/ >

Week 4.2

In the black room today I worked with the technique of ‘Backlighting’. In conducting research on this technique, I found out that this style of lighting is perfect for highlighting and emphasising the shape of your object (McKinnell, A 2014). In my session I worked with a variety of different lighting positions behind the object in order to highlight features and the shape of the doll.

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References:

McKinnell, A 2014, ‘Using Backlight in Nature Photography’, Digital Photography School,

< http://digital-photography-school.com/using-backlight-in-nature-photography/ >

Week 4

‘Split Lighting’ is a technique used by photographers which splits the face exactly into equal halves with one side being in the light, and the other in shadow. It is often used to create dramatic images for things such as a portrait of a musician or an artist. Split lighting tends to be a more masculine pattern and as such is usually more appropriate or applicable on men than it is for women (Hildebrandt, D 2014).

With this bit of knowledge gained, I decided to experiment with split lighting in the black room. In achieving this split lighting, I placed the light source 90 degrees to the left or right of the subject.

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References:

Hildebrandt, D 2014, ‘6 Portrait Lighting Patterns Every Photographer Should Know’, Digital Photography School, 

http://digital-photography-school.com/6-portrait-lighting-patterns-every-photographer-should-know/ >

Week 3.3

This session I worked in my bedroom utilising a lamp as my only light source. I decided to experiment around with the use of shadows to create a feeling of mystery and secrecy. I played around with different positioning of the lamp so that the shadows created would only partly reveal the identity of the doll, as if he was ‘lurking in the shadows’. I really enjoyed this session as I found that the end photos had a great deal of mood and feel to them in quite a horror style. The shadows ended up being really sharp, highlighting a multitude of the dolls features.

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Week 3.2

Today I came to the realisation that the VB can was becoming too basic in my photography, restricting my experimentation with a variety of lighting techniques. I have decided to now use a doll in which I will work with a number of different lighting both natural and artificial. I opted to sticking with light sources accessible to me at home, working with the headlights of my car in number of ways to highlight the dolls features.

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Increasing Self-knowledge through Self-tracking

In today’s technological driven society, we can see a growing trend in individuals beginning to take control of an aspect of their lives in which conventional wisdom once informed us that we shouldn’t understand….our own health.

Why am I so tired all the time? How much exercise should I do daily? What are the healthiest food options? Today we ask our doctors these questions. Tomorrow we ask our data (Moschel, M 2015).

This growing phenomenon can better be described as ‘The Quantified Self’. This term can be explained as being the increase use in technologies to track and monitor data about oneself. In short it is the growth in self-knowledge through self-tracking (Moschel, M 2015). This trend is being driven by the innovation of mobile devices, and is becoming more widely available through the dramatic improvements in data storage and data processing.

We can see a range of biometric sensory devices such as the Fitbit, Zeo Sleep Coach and the Nike+ making their way into consumers homes, allowing for these individuals to track everything from their total activity, number of steps, food they eat, sleeping patterns and heart rate on a daily basis.

This movement of the quantified self allows individual’s to take health into their own hands, tracking a variety of aspects in their day-to-day routines in which they wish to monitor and improve. Being presented these data visuals allows for these users to learn about their own health and lifestyle. With this bit of knowledge gained, they are able to reflect and make positive changes to improve these data figures.

The process of self-tracking is perceived as a positive, personal process that one can embark on. However most individuals would not realise the negatives that are following this growing trend. With the ease and accessibility to quantify data growing exponentially, so too is the reliance on these numbers. Users of these devices are now are becoming so absorbed with eating a certain amount of calories, or walking a number of steps that soon enough, people will equate every bit of self worth down to these data variables, resulting in feelings of failure and self hatred once these expectations are not met (Lupton, D 2013).

big-data-blog-header-image

Another potential issue for the quantified self is the involvement it has with Big Data. This term big data is surrounded by the idea that all things offline will gradually, and eventually, be fully connected to the Internet, such that there would ‘no longer be any human or social activity that is beyond digital capture’ (Sampath, G 2015). Owners of these biometric sensory devices are within this digital capture, which holds a major security and privacy threat with all their confidential human activity being captured and stored by large corporations. All these streams of data could potentially be harnessed by a number of industries such as the insurance industry that could exploit individuals based on their data figures from their smart devices.

The quantified self-movement has none the less been a major turning point for a lot of individual’s health, allowing for self-improvement and self-knowledge. However I believe that a reliance on these data figures can result in a lack of trust in ones self worth. I also feel that users should be wary of whose hands these data variables are entering, and should understand the potential exploitation risks of this data by industries.

References:

Moschel, M 2015, ‘THE BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO QUANTIFIED SELF’, Health and Technology Blog, March 9,

https://blog.underarmour.com/devices/activity-trackers/the-beginners-guide-to-quantified-self-plus-a-list-of-the-best-personal-data-tools-out-there/ >

Lupton, D 2013, ‘Living the quantified self: the realities of self-tracking for health’, This Sociological Life, January 11, blog,

https://simplysociology.wordpress.com/2013/01/11/living-the-quantified-self-the-realities-of-self-tracking-for-health/ >

Wolf, G 2010, ‘The Quantified Self’, TED, 

<http://www.ted.com/talks/gary_wolf_the_quantified_self?language=en#t-89002 >

Sampath, G 2015, ‘Does the Internet of Things herald an era of digital feudalism?’, livemint, 

http://www.livemint.com/Opinion/zy9mGHaOAnugUTuCKysGqM/Does-the-Internet-of-Things-herald-an-era-of-digital-feudali.html >

Week 3

This week I am going to be utilising light sources more accessible to me at home. I decided to use a number of different street lights. There was a range of cooler and warmer street lights that resulted in a variety of lighting.

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