Jenny Davis

October 2, 04

Went on a digital image course the other week. Realised I may have been under-estimating some of my know how by choosing too basic a course…when the tutor gave us a worksheet with pictures! Fill in the names of objects underneath. Er let me see…keyboard…monitor…mouse. Second week the computers had a ‘freeze’ apparently so wouldn’t let us do anything with a digital camera. Ended up showing my neighbours how to get effects on their photos…so may need to find some other way to accelerate my learning.

Some good advice from an artist: develop the concept first then work out how to achieve it…otherwise I will just get overwhelmed by what the software does, or it’s difficult to be idea-led. Ideas have been forming but actually transmuting them into digital medium feels well tricky. Wandered round Tate Modern and surprisingly that day the flat canvas left me flat. Gravitated towards the stills photos…Cartier Bresson and a South African, David Goldblatt; whose photo taken [in the ‘60s I think but can’t be sure], shows a ‘ Miss Lovely Legs’ competition’ at a hypermarket. Three white women in bathing suits pose on a platform and below them stand a rather gloomy mass of customers. But in particular the photographer has caught the expressions of some young black women who are closest to the stage. Looking up at the white women there is both disgruntlement and desire. Almost as if the die is cast. This is what you will never be. Otherness and Neverness embodied in their gaze.

Actually there was an artist whose canvases enthralled me precisely because of the subject matter… Chris Ofili. Media made much fuss of his use of Elephant dung but when you read his explanation of its properties and why… it made intrinsic sense to his work. Particularly liked Afro 2000 a line drawing composed of tiny drawings of heads. Playing on the racist view that all black people look the same.

Had a meeting with my two 16 year old researchers. They are so insightful and on the ball. I learnt a lot. They said feminism means little to them now. ‘It’s an old fashioned word.’ ‘ It reminds me of history when women used to burn their bras…think of it back in the old days.’ Talked about sex education and the lack of it. You just get given a tampon and a book. Taught how to produce a baby but none of the emotional side. Talked about peer pressure and approval …being in a hurry to lose virginity because of it. And the fact that Girls Like Bad Boys. Girls would rather go with a guy who treats them like rubbish. If he’s respected on the street then he’s appealing. Two Grans were seen fighting in the street over a man.

This isn’t a generational thing but I know class and education play a part. This is just one segment. This isn’t all working class wimmin either. I know too many women, middle and working class, who are just working their backs off…parenting…studying…and working more than one job, trying to be strong in the face of huge pressure. But one significant point came out of our discussion…men and boys play a big part in ‘feminism’. They have to be in the equation. A new evolving definition has to include them. Agreed that my researchers will film some other young wimmin at their Youth centre for a voice box.

Looked up some web sites, all very useful in different ways. Some leave you uncertain as to which bits are interactive…some techniques impressive even when content obscure. Some work good like ‘Being Foreign’ for its simplicity.

I could see a tapestry working with different audio-visual files you click on. Need to check if its interactive, does that determine where it can be shown…e.g projected on to a building. Because there’s something about projecting a non objectified Black woman on a huge public space…which appeals to me. Keep recalling ‘racelessness of digital space'…from one of the essays. Taking it out of context probably but I want to inscribe the space with the Black female form in a way that challenges the viewer to see differently.

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