Into the pixels

Still thinking about how I approach Assignment one and also about whether I pull all the assignments into a body of work, as my (new) tutor has suggested. The Gross’ Thailand project is still on the cards and I have been working with images supplied by Carl.

The notion here is to connect the two, my images of Carl and Anne and Carl’s images from Thailand, to see if I can develop a narrative that is greater than the sum of the parts. I haven’t done this much pixel editing for many years!

Carl sowing shallots and a Thai worker at the orphange in North West Thailand

Carl sowing shallots and a Thai worker at the orphange in North West Thailand

Carl's sheds in the Burmese refugee camp in North West Thailand

Carl’s sheds in the Burmese refugee camp in North West Thailand

I haven’t made much attempt to blend the colour profiles, I haven’t sharpened either sets of images, just tried to blend them into one another. The top photograph has the two men working the land for precisely the same purpose. Carl will have planted three thousand onion sets since this photograph was made, and all sorts of vegetables will be sown and reaped in order to help the same set of children and young adults survive. The second image has Carl’s two allotment sheds planted to the side of the refugee camp. When it rains, and it does often, this track becomes a river and then a mud bath, there is no sanitation, no electricity or power of any sort for the thousands of Burmese refugees escaping tyranny.

The children wash the dishes after a meal at the improvised school. The rhubarb is from the allotment

The children wash the dishes after a meal at the improvised school. The rhubarb is from the allotment

Anne harvesting leeks on a bitterly cold morning. The small patch for vegetables that has been supported by Carl and Anne in an orphanage in  North West Thailand that Carl and Anne support

Anne harvesting leeks on a bitterly cold morning. The small patch for vegetables in Thailand that has been supported for many years by Carl and Anne for an orphanage in the North West of the country.

Carl is a teacher by profession, his family though worked the land around Michigan

Carl is a teacher by profession, his family though worked the land around Michigan

I plan to cover a presentation that Carl and Anne will make at a local school and will try and find an axis to bring the schools together, there are a few more school pictures that I can use.

A young man whose arms have been blown off by a mine

A young man whose arms have been blown off by a mine

A young man whose arms have been blown off by a mine

A young man whose arms have been blown off by a mine

I’m undecided about this shot. This young man has lost his arms either being blown off by a landmine or as a result of surgery after landmine incident. Some 80% of all prosthetic limbs in Thailand are used on the Burmese Thai border apparently, The Burmese army have been used to using local ethnic Burmese children and young adults as human mine clearers. This young man is training to use a soldering iron with his feet, there are plenty of job opportunities for Burmese refugees that manage to find a way through the minefields into Thailand, obtain work permits in order to slave in the Chinese factories that are being set up to make use of the cheap labour – apparently Chinese labour is becoming too expensive. These workers get about $1 – $3 a day. They tend to work 14 hour shifts, at about 28 days on, 1 day off. I’m undecided about whether the longer shot provides more connection to Carl’s Allotment that I’ve transplanted this young man into, or whether the concentration that he is applying to the work is better revealed in the cropped shot.

At the refugee camp in North West Thailand. The crosses are part of some frames that Carl uses at the allotment

At the refugee camp in North West Thailand. The crosses are part of some frames that Carl uses at the allotment

This took the longest to pull together, and the one I’m most pleased with so far. The crosses are from the allotment, the lady with the burden is placed in direct proximity to those symbols, memento mori? The young girl looks back towards the future, her mother(?) amidst those symbols and a younger child looks on, ready to take over when the young girl herself succumbs? Maybe a bit prosaic, but I think this image has the greatest potential for providing a developed narrative. The twin contexts of the allotment on the left of the image the refugee camp on the right and a path that might lead to salvation, or perhaps somewhere else.

I have printed these images as using just the screen has the possibility to mask editorial cock-ups, they look reasonable. As I said earlier I never meant them to look natural, they needed to have a discordant note to them. The shock of scale or colour, or any other visual discrepancy, adds a dynamic that asks the viewer to question what is before them, well that is the hope at any rate.

Whether this leads to further work using this as a starting point I am undecided, but it will probably make up a good proportion of assignment one.

 

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4 thoughts on “Into the pixels

  1. Intriguing how it begins to connect the people and countries. It left me wanting more though – for you to travel with them to Thailand and see the effect of the work your friends are doing. Polaroid postcards? What if the people there had some cheap cameras and took their own photographs, even wrote on them (in their language).
    Will you be bringing these composites on the 20th?

    • I took the prints from Saturday to show Ann and Carl, they seemed very pleased and wanted to pin some up on their stall at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday – I gave them all to them. They will also send some of the images to one of the wealthy benefactors in the Thai Children’s Charity – so they might get a wider coverage. I hope so.

  2. Perhaps I could be Carl’s assistant 🙂 The trouble is I would have to pay for all the expenses, plus all the medical insurances and medications.
    I’m glad you have the impression that the two world’s are coming together, it is what I had hoped for. As for more I am working on some additional images and the school presentation will hopefully yield some more. I like some of your ideas though…food for thought. And yes, I’m planning to bring them on the 20th.

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