Graduates 2020: Lauren Mason: Photography

My final major project work that appears in the online graduate show is called ‘.. .. 86’.

It is a body of work that combines primary and secondary imagery in experimental practice. Through c-type printed computer screen grabs, appropriated promotional photographs and cardboard cut outs, I have opened up a conversation around ownership and how this can be fantasised. Analysing the fetishisation of objects through advertising, I have created work around my passions, critiquing mindless consumer culture, but with a photographic twist.

Exploring advertising imagery, ‘.. .. 86’ considers the gap between printed pages or backlit screens, attempting to amalgamate the format of conventional book pages into one spread. When presented in continuation, as can be found on my website, the interaction is forced, necessitating the viewer to scroll through the piece like a bespoke webpage that neither tells a story, nor sells a product.

The work, as with all my other projects, are heavily influenced by theoretical texts. With ‘.. .. 86’ this is so much so that words have infiltrated the visual work, which feels particularly fitting for my final project with the university. In the past I have read heavily around authorship, focussing on the seminal text ‘The Death of the Author’ by Roland Barthes. For this project, Barthes texts in ‘Mythologies‘, essays such as ‘Plastic’ and ‘The New Citroen’, were entirely formative, discussing the endless possibilities of polymers, and getting us to consider how rarely it is that we question where products come from, or how they were made, idealising final forms as if they are Godly. These ideas lead into the most influential theorist of the project, David Bate and his 2009 book ‘Photography: The Key Concepts’, in-particular his chapter ‘The Rhetoric of Still Life’. These are the pages from which I have taken the textual elements of the work, which brokenly takes the viewer on a consumerist journey. To begin, the viewer is faced with the quote “we are asked to fall in love with an object through its image”. This frames the piece, discussing desire and what it means to own something through a photograph. This is a topic that the artist Hans Aarsman also explores, asking questions around consumerist desire, and whether we can tackle that issue through the act of taking and owning pictures. Towards the end of the work, or more appropriately the far right, it reflects upon itself saying that “objects do not fulfil desire, they only temporarily subjugate it.” 

Although the work can appear to read about many subjects, as many as are projected onto it, the true focus of the work is exposed in the final ‘page’, the index. Of books, the index is where the reader would flick to in order to find more information on a specific subject. In ‘.. .. 86’ the viewer can resolve the works meaning through this final appropriated piece taken from Paterson’s 1979 publication ‘The Book of the Darkroom’ and ‘The Book of Photography’, which also appropriately credits the image makers, whom to which I am eternally grateful for their beautiful photographs. 

  

How have you found your course/time at Brighton?

I have thoroughly enjoyed my course at Brighton university. On reflection, sometimes when I think “what am I going to do with what I have done?” I consider truly how much I have learnt. It may seem sometimes like a degree in certain subjects is not necessary, but it has allowed me to take the top off Photography as just taking pictures, and look at the deep and rich history underneath it. 

Within the first week of university I was advised by a third year to experiment, and I did, even right through to the last days. This has been truly valuable to push myself. Staying outside of my comfort zone and always striving for more has been great. Brighton has encouraged me in alternative thinking and experimental practice. 

 

What are your plans after Graduation?

After graduation I will be sticking around in Brighton. With Covid-19 I feel like many of us have been robbed of our final summer in the city, which I never intended to leave just yet anyway. Brighton gives me a can-do attitude. With plenty of arts to immerse yourself in, it seems like a good place to try to maintain my practice outside of the university, especially with events like the Photo Fringe in October that I will be working towards exhibiting at. 

 

Lauren’s website

Instagram

See Lauren’s work in the Graduate Show 2020

Find out more about BA(Hons) Photography

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