John Hilliard

John Hilliard is an artist that uses photography and explores the ways a camera can distort your perception of a scene. This is quite interesting as it is commonly perceived that a photo tells no lies, whereas traditional painting can be easily distorted or changed especially when representing a scene. Photo's can often be seen as 'fact' were as paintings a mere 'interpretation'. ‘Cause of Death’ is a perfect example of this. This is one photograph of a body lying in a field, but the cause of death is open to interpretation. The photograph has been cropped in four different ways and each time there seems like there is an obvious explanation for the death. Drowned, Crushed, Fell, Burned. This questions the truth of a photograph and also could be a comment on the impact media manipulation can have on our understanding of events. They also also show how important composition is in how we understand an image. This is something I want to try and really begin to explore in my visual design work.

‘Camera recording its own condition’ is another work by Hilliard consisting of 70 photographs of a camera. Each photograph is slightly different according to the conditions under which the camera’s settings have been changed. Many of the photographs are under exposed contrasting with many that are overexposed. The aim with this piece is to show that an image can be manipulated and distorted even with just the use of light and the lens. There are many possibilities for error when taking a photograph and a photograph can never be a true representation of an image or object. Colours especially can vastly change. This in particularly becomes important to remember in visual design, there is no substitute to on site observational drawing. (happy now Chris?)

I find Hilliard’s work very interesting because, maybe previously I have rarely ever questioned the truth of a photograph. Perhaps a little naivety on my part, but now that I can see how manipulation can be so simple and have such an effect.

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