Shadows of the Great War
As part of my Masters degree in Documentary Photography, I have been working on a project using silhouettes and projections entitled Shadows of the Great War.
The depictions of life, both in the trenches and on the home front, during the First World War provides the subject matter for The Shadows of The Great War project. It was inspired by a personal journey following in the footsteps of my great-grandfather, a bombardier, who fought on the Western Front. Local museums readily displayed found WWI artifacts; a broken comb; a weathered bible; letters home; diaries; rust ridden pistols; condemned razors; silent whistles; boot soles; half buttons; expended bullets but above all, photographs. It is when the relics were placed within the photographic scene, combined with the men who once owned them, that their purpose and identity was firmly established.
Historic photographs from 1914-18 are used in order to create new fictional narratives by re-appropriating the images for the purposes of storytelling using a silhouette technique. This adaption and manipulation alleviates the notion of creating a means of reality, often associated with photography, as the original details are removed. The scenes in this project are not historically accurate, nor are they intended to echo the reality of the story. Where there is no photographic evidence, the scenes merely act as indexical fictions and illustrative illusions, created through inaccuracy, imagination and compilation.
The purpose of the work is to create a visual aesthetic that tells a story in reference to other textual or visual imagery. Primary research from WWI archives using texts, memoirs and other documents informs the conception of a scene. Fragmented imagery, both real and imagined merge in the form of the final tableaux to again ‘fix the shadows’ of those that history may have forgot.