My Artistic Practice vs. My Photographic Practice

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Right from the beginning of the MA, in fact even a bit before it started, I wrote about Landscape. Given the way that my Cambodian work has progressed, it seems appropriate to briefly refer back to what I said.

Essentially, I wrote that whilst my painting alternated between pop and expressionistic …

Mick Yates. 1967. Japanese Industry.

… my photography was indexical.

Mick Yates. 1972. River Trent, Burton on Trent.

Perhaps that is hardly surprising given my then current education about the possibilities of photography, and the prevalent view that it was ‘mainly about reality’.

However, as I look back at the Cambodian project, I can see iterations.

In 1994, I created the original, highly indexical, documentary records.

Mick Yates. 1994. Choeung Ek (The Killing Fields).

‘Documentary: That’s a sophisticated and misleading word. And not really clear. The term should be documentary style, You see a document has use, whereas art is really useless’.

Walker Evans. 1971. Art in America, March-April 1971.

At the start of 2018, I started rephotographing and reinterpreting those archives, albeit with a move into human stories.

At the time, I now see that I was working parallel processes – going back to reinterpret the sites of the Genocide, whilst also attempting to create a narrative around Sarath’s personal stories from that time.

Mick Yates. 2018. Choeung Ek (The Killing Fields).

‘Photography for me is not looking, it’s feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures’.

Don McCullin. 1994.  Sleeping With Ghosts : A Life’s Work in Photography. London: Jonathan Cape.

Experimentation led to the quite abstracted digital negative series, as featured in Landings. This seemed attractive, as it begged questions of the actual landscape, and what the viewer could ‘see’, whilst also allowing inclusion of a sequential narrative.

Mick Yates. 2018. A Prayer from Hell – Choeung Ek (The Killing Fields).

‘I have these obsessions that I do not completely understand, with the deep mark, with the ruptured surface, with scars and traces, traces that human beings are leaving on the earth. It is not a comment on the environment … it is metaphysical’.

Sophie Ristelhueber. 2001. Interview with Cheryl A. Brutvan, Details of the World. Museum of Fine Arts Boston.

Now, in the latest work, using infrared and incorporating text:

Mick Yates. 2019. Unfinished Stories – Choeung Ek (The Killing Fields).

Perhaps I am starting to combine my love of abstraction with the indexical possibilities of photography, whilst combining geography with personal narrative?