William Douglas: Field Photographs
In William Douglas’ field photographs he investigates deprecation of imagery through repurposing and rethinking the once dominant medium of black and white 35mm photography. Making large-scale prints from 35mm negatives, William removes the images from their original context and places emphasis on the flaws within the medium. Distorted by size, the images lose the visual quality and accessibility they are originally meant to hold. The subjects photographed become foreign and distanced, though they are familiar and recognizable imagery. Touching on issues such as myth within the historical context of 35mm black and white photography, William is interested in bringing subjectivity to recognizable photographic imagery to change the meaning and perception of things we call familiar.
Will Douglas is an internationally exhibited artist who was born in Charleston, South Carolina. He lived in Puerto Rico as a child, briefly resided in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, was raised in Virginia and currently lives in Florida. Douglas studied at Virginia Commonwealth University where he received a BFA in Photography and Filmmaking. In 2011 he was a recipient of a VMFA fellowship. Since then has been included in various important exhibitions including Skyway Contemporary at The Tampa Museum of Art, The Hollywood Biennale, Art Through the Lens at Yeiser Art, amongst many more. In 2015 he was in Peripheral Vision at Candela in Richmond, was included in the Review Santa Fe 100, The 6th Annual Contemporary Photography Exhibition at the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center, and awarded emerging talent in lenculture’s top 50. He is currently pursuing his MFA in Studio Arts at the University of South Florida where he is a graduate fellow.
In field photographs, I use 35mm film to comment on image expectations. I use this photographic medium and blow it up to scales reserved for large format photography, drawing attention to the loss of fidelity and sharpness of an image. I intentionally expose the grain and softness as I enlarge my images to a scale beyond the traditionally conservative scale reserved for this size of negative. I manipulate images and text, I appropriate photographs, blow them up 10 times their native size to make the viewer seem small but also expose myself-the photographer-as a fraud, a phony a wannabe field photographer. All of the aforementioned formal choices are somewhat grotesque and irreverent to the craft of traditional black and white photography and the authenticity or “myth” this type of photography still carries. By embracing the degradation or flaws of 35mm film I intend to reveal the 35mm format as fabricated historically and culturally constructed, within a particular tradition of photographic image-making stripping it of its “natural image of reality.” I am drawn towards, making images that seem familiar or that reference every other image that has been taken of a subject, but through my own subjective lens I hope to render the familiar strange again. I want my images to evoke the sense that you have seen them before but somehow everything has changed; like seeing an ex-lover from whom you have moved on.
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