This image, by Irvine Penn, was taken in 1999, named Vogue.
Already a concept of a dispassionate and medical situation can be
taken from the use of white, rubber gloves with a white table, and
the use of force that can be seen in the way the this lobster claw is
held with a hammer being brought down on it.
I find this image interesting as it shows a food that is often thought
as luxurious, being handled aggressively, as though this is what it
takes to make such expensive and lush food. The hammer that was
chosen as the prop is very worn and completely out of place from
what is expected in this clinical environment. This creative decision
may have been made to portray how even fist class food is prepared
in very low quality, unhygienic conditions – disgusting the
consumer if they knew. When looked at this way, an idea could be
taken that shows that all people are the same, despite the differences
on the outside.
The theme in this image is, again, food. And again, the food has been
prepared against the common conventions of looking appetising, but
instead to appear disgusting, but in such a set up that would interest
the viewer long enough to notice the smaller details. Details, such as
the ant, for example. Ants are known to be attracted to sweet things,
yet, as an insect, they are also regarded with distaste. Here it can be
seen sitting atop of a pastry that is overflowing with some
representation of rotten custard, pouring out from were a slice has
been cut. But instead, it makes it’s way to the pear that lays on top of
the pastry. Another small, strange detail that can be seen is that the
pear is red, and uncommon colour for the fruit – making it more eye
catching than the main dessert.
I believe the message being told through this image is that, despite the
amount of additives and time that goes into shop bought desserts,
sometimes the more simple and healthier food still comes out the
sweetest. And in this photograph, the ant knows this.
This picture is part of a larger collection named ‘Findings’. The subjects
that can be seen are, quite literally, things that have been picked up off
of the street. From this we already know that everything photographed,
in this collection, are the used, the not needed, or the unwanted.
Here is a shot of apples that are too deformed or old to ever be sold in a
supermarket. Instead they were probably thrown away whilst the rest of
the better produce was shipped off. The overhead angle of this image
makes the viewer feel as though they are looking down at these apples,
as though this unwanted food is below them. I feel that taking the image
in this way has a very dynamic effect of how the viewer observes it, it’s
almost as if they themselves have came across these ‘findings’.
The way the apples have been arranged is, also, very clever, as all of
them are touching at least one other apple – creating an atmosphere of
cramped and clustered disarray. This contradicts dramatically with the
set up of the food coming together to create a square – a formation they
would never be found in naturally.
This photograph is also part of the collection ‘Findings’, this time
showing scattered cigarette ends, a tangle of hair, and what looks to
be a crumpled dollar bill.
The lighting of this image is a very warm shade, collaborating well
with the browns and yellows of the cigarettes. The corners of the
image are slightly shaded, making it seem as though there was a
spotlight hovering over the subject. The viewers will feel very
engaged with the subjects because the photo was so taken close – up,
making it seem almost confrontational, as though whoever has
littered with cigarette ends are meant to feel guilty when looking at
this image. By doing this, the mood of the image is almost
accusatory and suspicious.
Because a white background was chosen when setting up this
picture, the smallest details are able to be seen. Details such as the
speckles of dirt and, perhaps, ash that are amongst everything else –
enhancing the effect of a unhygienic and filthy atmosphere.
This photograph was one of the last images from the collection
‘Findings’, with a sub-title of 1948. Despite being a part of Penn’s
still life works, I feel as though it has certain documentary styled
qualities. This is mostly because of the close-up range it has, and
how it can appear plain yet interesting at the same time.
The use of the rule of thirds has allowed this image to come over
as more diverse, giving the viewers a better chance to observe the
shadow created by the plate, whilst still being able to see that the
plate is practically bare. The lighting is perfectly situated to create
this shadow, and also the shadow of the left over food on the plate.
By having it at angle like this, the light is reflected adequately off of
the fish scales, and brings out the amber of the eye without causing
it to appear as though it is looking right at the views. By doing this
it gives off a mood of definite and death, without making people
feel sympathetic. I believe that by doing this the artist is trying to
give over the message of living without waste, and how sad – but
necessary – it is.