Alex McDowell shoots work for the Editorial with Moving Image module
24th January 2022
“Social Construct: an idea that has been created and accepted by the people in a society.”
“Working multiple, dreary, and soul-destroying retail jobs – through these hours, of what felt like, wasted time: I met people from all walks of life. Most sat above the line of the social norm, but many fell below it. One day, while staring my day away, onto the ultimately dull high street of Dursley, I noticed a bench; filled with an interesting and eccentric bunch of people, most of the locals walked past and sniggered and children pointed, with parents giving a harsh slap to the hand – to then agree in a sly under breath. This short 5-minute observation led itself to being a long drawn out thought process for myself – with a deep inner questioning about social construct. The people of the bench did not match any concept of ‘social acceptance’, but they were happy. This hit home more than ever, being stood in a job I hated, wasting away precious hours of my life I’d never get back – purely, because society has told me this is what I should do. From birth humanity is taught a mass of lessons, some important, the theory of right and wrong, safety and many more then you could ever list – but mixed into this is a rule book of material acceptance, where one small change drops you bellow the line of the social norm.”
Image 1 – Expired Polaroid 55 Positive
Image 2 – Expired Polaroid 55 Negative, washed in a pond on location, inclusive of artefacts from the water.
“Photographing the landscape has allowed me to question how I personally fell about the topic of ‘Social Construct’, visiting these areas has allowed me to relate the scene in front of me to the ideas I am exploring – triggering an emotional response to the way society has directed the human mindset. Using an array of photography practises, all incredibly slow and experimental, such a large format polaroid and collodion, forcing me to imburse and embrace the landscape I am in, leading me capture not only an image, but a piece inclusive of the feelings they construct too.”
Image 3 – 4×5 Collodion Tin-Type.
“This stills project then fed into the idea forming my collaborative work with Jimmy – ‘Draft #3’. A project which finalises in a personal response to the landscape that surrounds us. A 24 hour exploration, inclusive of beauty and fear.”
Image 4 – Castlemorton Common: May 1992. 40,000 People.
“As a part of this module, I also created some work around the non-conformist. I decided to take a different approach to this work, and focus on shooting landscapes, to have more of a connection to my specialisation. My work has always explored the underground music scene, so in answer to this brief, I decided to take a step back, and look at the history behind the music. Concentrating on the late 1980s to early 1990s, in the South West, I explored the array of free parties that shaped this culture, photographing the locations now – interviewing people that participated. Shooting these ‘beauty spots’, now so empty, painted such a stark contrast between now and the scenes at the time”
“A local West Country copper pulled us over when we were about 5 miles away. Frantically trying to stash all our stuff, he came up to the car window. Asked if we were lost and then gave us directions! Fkn legend!”
Image 5 – Great Mills, Stroud: September 1991. 2,000 People.