Artist’s Statement

Samantha Everton

At the start of the twenty-first century, a new photographic technique threatens to eclipse traditional and alternative photography.  Digital photography is intrinsically related to digital manipulation, through software such as Photoshop, opening up a wide variety of new techniques to the artist.   Digital media make photography widely accessible to the public, as much less equipment is needed compared to a traditional darkroom.

Just as digital techniques make photography easier and more accessible to the general public, so too is the digital medium considered to be a lower-quality tool for simple documentation.  Digital technology also has connotations of mass media, and loss of individuality.  It is a tool that everyone can use, and so is not yet fully respected as a valid form of art.

From an artistic viewpoint, one of the strengths of the digital medium is the power and ease with which the image can be manipulated to match the vision that the artist has in mind.  However, it is exactly this ease of manipulation that leads to a loss of respect for the medium.  Manipulation of images has formed part of the range of artistic techniques that has been used for centuries in many different media.  Before the advent of impressionism, painting was often used for documentary purposes, with the aim of realist styles to depict the subject as accurately as possible.  More modern painting has sought to change and modify the image to reflect the artist’s perception of the subject.  Even traditional dark room photographic printing allows the photographer to modify an image to more closely represent their interpretation of a scene.  It is possible to completely alter the balance of tones in a print to emphasize the area of interest.  Digital photography can be yet another extension of this idea.  The computer is the tool that is used to alter the image, but it does not define the image.  It is the artist’s vision, and ability to use the image to convey a message, and ideas, that makes the digitally manipulated image art, not the act of digital manipulation.  The medium is there as a tool for communication, a means for self-expression.

Throughout history, photography has been reluctantly accepted as an art form by the artistic community.  From its genesis as the camera obscura, image reproduction using light was a tool used to assist artists in the accurate reproduction of their subject matter.  It was considered cheating, by tracing rather than drawing from eye.  With the introduction of the first photographic recording techniques, in the 19th century, the photograph was considered to be a tool for documentation, not art.  Yet, although the camera reproduced real life, the photographer was already able to convey a message, simply by the inclusion of only certain elements within the frame – the exclusion of unwanted areas being a simple artistic freedom.  By the time large format photography had taken hold, at the turn of the 20th century, technological advances had produced the next stage in the evolution of the photographic medium: the SLR camera had been invented.  Again, the new technique was only a light and easy tool used to aid cinematographers.  It was shunned by professional photographers for its low quality – they continued to rely on the larger formats, 10x8, 5x7 and 5x4, that had proven themselves over time.  Slowly, over the 20th century, photography has evolved to become not just documentation, but an art form in its own right.  After 25 years of existence, the Second World War solidified the acceptance of 35mm photojournalism as an art form, and led to the groundbreaking work of photographers such as Henri-Cartier Bresson, and Robert Capa.  Their work sits as an equal alongside work by artists such as Ansell Adams who continued to use the large format film.  Recently, photography has made inroads into the world of highly acclaimed art, with the Turner prize in 2000 being awarded to Wolfgang Tillmans, a German-born photographer.   The recent addition of the Australian Portrait Prize in photography, which is run in conjunction with the Archibald prize, further confirms this.

I am inspired by surrealist artists such as Dali and Rene Magritte and montage photographer Jerry Uelsmann, whose dream-like images form a reflection on the society in which we live.  I aim to produce images, which at first glance seem real, if not for the impossibility of their subjects.  I create digital photographic montages that are put together so seamlessly that it is only the absurdity of the image that makes the viewer question its reality. Although I use digital manipulation, I capture the original images using traditional photographic techniques, and use the digital tools in such a way as to create a work that has the values of a traditional fine art piece.

My images are printed digitally using the finest inks and papers, and with as much attention to quality and detail as would be paid by a hand-printer working in the darkroom.  By using the best of everything, I aim to produce archival limited editions of high quality works of art.

 

 

Resumé

.           Born 29/9/1971, Whyalla, South Australia.

            Grew up in Emerald, Central Queensland.

            Moved to Melbourne in 1998.

Solo Exhibitions

2004   Inaugural Solo exhibition, St Michaels Uniting Church Gallery, Melbourne

Group Exhibitions

            2004     Couch Art, Area Contemporary art space

            2004     Vivid, Greens art Auction, 45Downstairs,Melbourne

2004   33rd Alice Prize, Araluen Centre for Arts & Entertainment, Alice Springs

2004   VISPY Victorian Institute of Professional Photographers awards exhibition

2004   Australian Commercial Magazine Photography Collection 10

2004   Homeless Gallery, Geelong.

2004   Centre for Contemporary Photography, Summer Salon, Melbourne

2003   No Excuses, Fad Gallery, Melbourne.

2003   Homeless Gallery, Collingwood, Melbourne Fringe Festival.

2003   Blinded, 45 downstairs

2003   Julie Millowick Acquisitive Photographic Award, Castlemaine

Achievements

            2004 33rd Alice Prize, Acquisition of works for Alice Springs art gallery pernament collection

2004 AIPP Australian Professional Photography awards: 3 silver medals, and one silver with distinction

2003  Steve Vizard Award for Most Creative Folio RMIT.

2003 VISPY Victorian Institute of Professional Photographers awards: Runner up Victorian student of the year, and highest scoring print in the digital category.

2003 Australian national finalist for Victoria in the Fulbright Visual and Performing Arts Award

2003 AIPP Australian Professional Photography awards: 1 gold, 2 silver medals.  Highest aggregate score from amongst all Victorian photography students

2001   VISPY Victorian Institute of Professional Photographers awards: 2 silver medals

Published Images

2004   Photo Review magazine, April/May edition.

2004   Foundations for art & design: a guide to creative photography by Mark Galer, focal press.

2004   Photoshop CS essential skills by Mark Galer & Philip Andrews, focal press& Elsevier.

2004   Coronation Talkies by Susan Kurosawa, Front cover photograph for soon to be released novel published by Penguin Books Pty Ltd.

2003   Mao’s Last Dancer by Li Cunxin, Penguin Books Pty Ltd: digital retouching on front cover image

Education

2003   Bachelor of Arts (Photography), RMIT

2002   Diploma of Applied Photography, RMIT TAFE.

2000   Cadet Photographer Melbourne Times

1998   Introductory Photography Course, Photo Studies College, Melbourne