Reflecting on the factual and the fictional

As stated in previous blog posts my developing practice is in the area of documentary image making. Initially a bit worried about the implications and what I might need to do  in this part of the course around constructed and fabricated images I have become progressively more intrigued . In no small part as a result of following up some of the photographers whose work is referenced in part 5 of C&N.

Starting with Tom Hunter, the idea of creating or even replicating elements of a news story through the construction of a scene that is representative of, rather than being the actual scene that might have been used in a newspaper, offers the opportunity to use a fiction to tell about a truth. There is also something about the use of the aesthetic to engage the vower in Hunters work, the course materials refer to Hunter drawing upon painting in his approach. The image below is a good example

© Tom Hunter

The scene of a road rage victim lying down with the menacing figure of the perpetrator standing over them is one that is unlikely to be seen in a newspaper, the sodium and tungsten lit tableaux has an engaging aesthetic quality, that belies the violence and drama of the scene. This is powerful imagery, acting as a sort of ‘proxy’ for the real event, carrying with real angst and menance. I need to ponder further on Hunters intent, which at this stage and from reading some background internet cemenatrt on Hunter leaves me uncertain is this about art or about story telling or even fiction to carry news? Whatever, i am suddenly quite keen o the idea of the tableaux image and its possibilities.

I also did some further on line research into Cindy Sherman. I was more familiar with this work and knew that Sherman used a self portraiture technique, drawing on the troops of film noir cinema, society portraits and old master paintings. A core theme of her work is to use this self porters approach to offer a perspective of how the women are seen in american society. I think this approach is well documented and what interested me about this work in the context of this part of the course is the images themselves and not necessarily  their intended message. I was drawn to the image below in terms of how it was constructed and achieved.

© Cindy Sherman

Not one of the more complex Sherman images but a tableaux of interest to me none the less. I think I need to experiment with some self portraiture and before trying to make a wider comment , just the practicalities and technical challenges are what appeals to me at present.

Philip Lorca Dicorcia’s work also intrigues me. of all the photographers referenced in this section of the cours it is decorcioa with whom I am most familiar having had the opportunity to see both Hustlers and Heads in person. As large glossy prints these works are aesthetically beautiful and have a wonderful depth to them, looking almost three dimensional an defying the flatness of the framed print. Contrasting his work  with Hunter and Sherman, these works feel far more like portraiture in the classical sense. In the case of ‘Hustlers’ the male prostitutes he photographs, are  real people, with all the challenges their circumstances present, but he creates a tableaux environment to tell a wider story. I noted his wikipedia page talks about his almost ‘baroque’ constructions in his constructed images. In the image below the Juke Box control, burger and drink container all add to the mundanity and strange beauty of the scene. DiCorcia’s approach  iis giving me some ideas for assignment 5.

© Philip Lorca Dicorcia

So what does all this tell me?

The tableaux is a mechanism top communicate a wider idea about the subject of the image.

The tableaux image offers the possibility for creativity beyond the purely documentary work that I am more familiar with.

Fiction created for the camera can just be fiction for its own sake own sake, or it can be an allegory to metaphor for something bigger and something real.


Hattenstone, S (2011) Cindy Sherman- Me, Myself and I, The Guardian, founds at:

Tom Hunter: Living in hell and other stories found at: (Accessed May 2017)


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