Student work · Briony Campbell
Cambpell’s web: http://www.brionycampbell.com/projects/the-dad-project/
Briony’s work in this project ‘The dad project’ is what I would refer to what Stott called a ‘human document ‘ (Stott, 1973:7-8.) This type of document is a personal exploration of a matter very close to one’s heart, in this case, Briony’s father dying. I feel with this work, that I am already familiar with from previous courses’, illustrates this and perhaps even leaves a slight opening for ambiguity in terms of the still images alone. Is the project documenting her father’s demise or is it to do with Briony and her subjective experience of losing her father? There is a gap there I feel, but it tips for me more towards the persona and later example. In the text it states that this is to do with grief and loss.
The whole strategy that Campbell is used seems effective to me, even though her father appears to be more a figure in the background of the whole project. He is the one who is close to death but yet Campbell has managed I think to draw the attention primarily to her presence in the drama more that her father, at least in the still images. Even seeing the hand of her now deceased father, white and pasty, draws the attention to Campbell and not her father as such.
So far above, my comments refer to the still photos seen in the series. Then after watching the video made in connection with the Guardian newspaper, where her father speaks for himself, my interpretation shifted. Something in the photos just did not come through for me that was there in the interview with her father. He is an articulate and thoughtful man who had a perspective on his own existential situation.
The images are moving, even though I felt that one or two did not fit in well and were too explicit (Briony in tears, and obvious image in the context of her dad’s situation). I only says this because for me these images were unnecessary and did not add anything to the narrative of the situation. It is, in a sense an easy and a difficult thing to discuss and connect with. I find the scenes in the hospice very strong. We are know some day we will be there, with a relative and later, in person.
Technically the images are mostly shot at close range with sufficient context to see where the subject is placed. This adds an obvious intensity to the viewing as many times you are close in on the subjects face or body parts. The consistency in her strategy here I think works to keep the viewer looking but also at times can perhaps create a bit of aversion because of what is being depicted.
Stott, W. Documentary Expression and Thirties America (1973:7-8) New York Oxford University Press.