Herbert Bayer - The Lonely Metropolitan
Herbert Bayer was one of the leading figures in the Bauhaus movement in Germany. Bayer was never interested in the technical side of photography, instead he took a great interest in photomontage and was partly responsible for establishing photomontage as a key political, surreal and commercial style in the 1930s alongside other groups such as the Dadaists.
Herbert Bayer has amalgamated layers together from different photos, cleverly using shadows to merge them together. The sepia print makes the polluted building look more overbearing as well as emphasising the theme of loneliness that is mentioned in its title.
This surreal and dream-like photograph is unsettling, and whilst we do not know exactly what is meant by the photo, there is a strange and spooky atmosphere about it. Having the eyes merged with the hands not only creates a surreal image, but gives the impression of despair, as if the character quite literally has his head in his hands. The eyes are clearly from two different people, as they are different colours and shapes and the hands are outstretched in a searching or begging position, as if they were reaching out for somebody. The hands are cut off below the wrist and float in the center of the composition, adding to the image’s unsettling quality. The shadows cast by the hands could not, in reality, be located on the distant building; this unreal spacing and arrangement further disturbs the viewer.
First Strand: Combining
For this strandI will focus on combining conflicting images in a similar style to John Stezaker, shown below.
John Stezaker takes images found in books, magazines and postcards and combines them with portraits or manipulates them to create meaningful and often witty compositions.
My favourite works by Stezaker are his 'Mask' compositions where he combines landscape scenes with old fashioned sepia or black and white portraits. I like the way that he cleverly manages to merge the two pictures together in a way that makes the image appear surreal.
Below is a composition I made as a response to Stezaker's 'Marriage' series, where he merges two images of faces, often male and female, to create one surreal face. I used two images that I found in old books and magazine adverts and stuck them together so that their mouths, noses and eyes linked up.
John Stezaker Response
For this idea I spliced and combined two images, one of me and one of my dad, similarly to John Stezaker in his pieces where he combines a male and female, however here I decided to combine an old and young person. I did this by taking setting up my camera on a tripod, and photographing my dad and myself in similar positions, with the same angles and heights. I then cut the two faces horizontally into interesting sections, such as the eye area, mouth area or from the hairline upwards.
Second Strand: Distorting
This strand will focus on the distortion of portraits through methods such as splicing and stretching.
To create this piece I took another set of 180 degree shots of my dad with fourteen images taken all together. I cut each of the photos into equal horizontal sections, and used the top section of the first image, the next highest section from the second image, the next highest section from the third image and so on. I stuck each of the selected sections next to each other, which when combined make the face look as if it has been twisted. An image of this process tested is shown bottom right, just like in my second strand I have used low quality prints and paper. I will use a better quality printer with photographic paper to improve the pieces aesthetics.
Third Strand: Layering
Bill Wadman is an American portrait photographer living in New York City. His editorial portrait work has been seen on the covers and pages of major publications throughout the world. Inspired by a number of professional dancers, Bill completed his long-exposure series 'Motion' in 2009.
Bill Wadman's Motion Series, shown below displays distorted moving figures by capturing blur using long exposure. I aim to achieve a similar effect, with clear separation between poses.
Bill Wadman Response
The images below were produced using a long exposure accompanied by a darkroom with strobe lighting, to achieve sections of detail within the blur. I would like to achieve a more heavily distorted piece, with clearer division and detail of movement
To achieve a similar effect as Bill Wadman's images, with a clearer division between angles, I layered my portrait images of different facial angles over one another using photoshop. To reveal the layers beneath I decreased the Fill and Opacity of the layers, I then erased particular areas of each layer to accentuate different features, such as removing the ears in some images to make the eyes clearer. I then increased the dark tones in shadows and increased the flesh coloured areas using the colour balance and contrast tools.
The image below is a distorted image created by layering several angles over one another. A similar effect can be achieved using a long exposure, however I wish to develop this idea by further distorting a portrait, perhaps displaying the face in sections, similarly to David Hockney's 'Joiners'.
Here I took a set of photos, taken from a range of different angles of a face. By folding and layering these photos on top of each other, I achieved an effect that makes it look as if the face is blurred. The folds make this piece more visually interesting making the face look three dimensional, as the center is the highest point. A tester of this idea is shown bottom right, I used low quality paper with a low quality print. To improve this piece I will use a better quality printer, with a better quality paper, however a thin paper must be used to make folding the image easier.
To develop this idea I will use a more interesting pose or position to increase the emotional effect the piece has on it's audience.
My final image, printed on better quality paper and with increased contrast and vibrancy, is shown below. This image displays the kind of clear, yet distorted, image that I aimed to achieve at the start of this project.