Marian has raised what I feel are some really crucial points about what we found in the York Hotel: the shots we each chose, the approach to the work of taking photographs (‘big’ ideas of truth, history, honesty – but also the selective process of framing, editing, the choice of subject).
Photography allows the image maker to manipulate the image before it is presented to the world, but does so within the context of a general association of photography with veracity; it has always been so, but photographers have also exploited the tools available to them in the darkroom and elsewhere to alter the ‘truth’ found by the lens into something different, something that spoke a different kind of truth (or truth in a different way).
I find myself profoundly aware of the subjectivity of all of it – how it is that to one degree or another, there’s always the hand and eye of the maker in the work at every step, making decisions that value some things over others, that – in effect – choose a truth to be presented.
But for all of that, I have to agree completely with her position on wanting to take honest photographs … . I think that there’s a place in this work where we can acknowledge our own subjectivity and editorial choices, but still present what we found with honesty – and stand behind what we present as honestly capturing the place and what we found in it.
It was an ugly place in many respects, and I think there are some images that we have in the collection that depict some of those ugly things quite plainly. But the converse is also true; I think we both saw – and captured through photographs – moments that held beauty, that showed something under the surface of things that was important to try to find and to understand.
No less ‘truthful’, either of those things … as the parrot continues to tell me:
The relative merits of the bird’s original colour scheme I will leave others to debate. Working with this object in particular taught me a great deal (again) about the existence of multiple truths.
And how much I hope what we’ve captured in this work will reveal those multiple truths about the York.