Projects:  Carnival, Painted

Project Statement:

Each photograph in this series was created in-camera during the final hours of the Notting Hill Carnival.  As I wove my way through the intoxicating smells and sounds, I navigated the heaving, overcrowded streets.  I saw unforgettable moments of panic and elation.  Youth, energy and sex illuminated the affluent West London setting;  beer, marijuana, chicken and sweat infused the atmosphere.  My encounters along the way, from the inebriated lens geek to the film-making Brummy youth worker, integrated me deeper into the carnival experience.  Attempting to photograph, capture and curate all of this posed many challenges, but it was nothing short of exhilarating in the making.

Each image is created by an abuse of the camera’s HDR function.  A function that requires stillness in order for it to cobble together three consecutive exposures correctly.  However, moving the camera and/or shooting moving subject matter will result in ghosting and peculiarities.  It is the possibilities within these irregularities that have defined and fuelled my practice over recent years.

As a painter hoping to use Carnival as a subject matter, I would have wanted to sketch and observe the colours and textures.  I would have researched costume and dress, drawn upon architecture and attempted to compose the painting back in the studio.  As a photographer, I intuitively expand, drag and smear colour, texture, shape and form across a scene on site.  I allow for accident, experiment and happenstance to influence the outcome.  These days, being back in the studio involves disposing with the countless unsuccessful images, acquiring the desired balance of light and dark and finding the ideal crop.

I am looking to pull apart the constraints of the HDR and reveal it’s innards. To capture longer than a snapshot in time.  To delve into what was and what will become.  To create a personalised aesthetic that is the direct result of performance, instinct and intuition.  To explore the relationship between painterly and photographic completeness.  To make visual personal expressions of the world around me.  To expand the realms of possibilities both on the inside and outside of the camera.  Ultimately, to create a dynamic interplay between abstraction, figuration, the painterly and the photographic.

Captions:

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Michael Lee 2020