Exploring authorship and collaboration opens a whole can of worms in many respects but has also broadened my understanding of collaboration.
While I find it troublesome that works involving ‘found’ photos such as that of Schmid seem to sidestep questions of consent – both of the original photographer but also the subject – contest does also play a part. Pieces made for the art gallery naturally have a more limited audience than those, for example, appropriated, amended, edited, re-purposed or simply recirculated without consent – but does that actually change the moral principle at stake?
Interestingly the types of collaboration touched upon with Ewald, Meiselas and Azoulay broaden the definition of collaboration further as well as raising other questions around authorship, introducing the concept of archiving. Arguing that the act of looking at images is as important as the taking of them, that the presentation – or re-presentation – in itself is a collaborative act with or against the original authors.
Looking at these questions, our collaborative group came together over the poem Nation’s Ode to the Coast – itself a collaborative piece of work with Dr John Cooper Clarke. Crowd-sourced to an extent the poem was crafted by Dr Cooper-Clarke from contributions by members of the public.
Our collaborative group sought to add another layer to that collaboration -without explicit, but within the context of the piece already being collaborative perhaps implicit, consent from its author/s. Having agreed the poem had a very British seaside feel to it, and using Meisalas’ archival approach, we each explored our own archives to find images that sought to add a visual element to the spoken words of the poem. Choosing a stanza each we agreed five images, each to represent the words and tone of the stanza to create a new collaborative series.
The mini project fits neatly with my own project on the Call of the Sea examining our relationship with the sea and the emotions it elicits as well as exploring the transitions and thresholds between sea and sky, land and sea, city and coast and the various ‘personalities’ of the sea and the coast.
Collaborative project members:
Rachel Rimell, Jessica Roberts, Claire Sargent, Alexander Ward, Lucy Worrall
AZOULAY, Ariella. 2016. ‘Photography Consists of Collaboration: Susan Meiselas, Wendy Ewald, and Ariella Azoulay’. Camera Obscura 91. Volume 31, Number 1. Duke University Press.
COOPER-Clarke, John, Dr. ‘Ode to the Nation’s Coast’. National Trust. Available at https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/features/our-coastal-poem [accessed 15/02/21]