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April Cooper | Studio Journal


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Project Statement | HML

How Many Lives is an on-going conceptual art project raising awareness of corporate greed and oppression amongst the west. Focusing its audience to those saturated in the consumer lifestyle, and have no whereabouts with the world. A heavily corporate dominated nation leaves nothing but distraction, and empty fulfillment on it’s people. 

The series features an expressionist film attempting to relieve a few minds, in a short amount of time. In book photography represents a narrative journey, beginning and ending with honesty. Particular themes across the series are; identity, politics, oppression and Spirituality.

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I once heard someone speak about living close to an airport, how you deplete the noise in your mind over time. Your personal health suffers in this environment; it causes behavioral stress patterns to develop unavoidably. If looked at visually oppose to audial, our excessively stimulating contemporary society is doing the same thing– creating behavioral disorders with its bright distracting lights, adverts etc.

When reminded of the airports noise 20 years on, the people begun to fight against it. I figured if I could help awaken even one person out of our overpowering, over regulating and over indulging society, back in to our analogue world, I would have done the world one favor. 

KP: How Many Lives | Project Evaluation

Title: When beginning this project I ordained the title to be something about urban decay, or western society, but this now looks as though it could have been title to work too. When debating these titles I decided I did not want anything too aggressive or insensitive to the viewer, as I understand that this topic holds a lot of identity themes, and is the sort of subject that can make you question yourself.

Bearing this in mind, when I viewed an image from late last year ‘How Many Lives’ I decided the condensed housing shot from Luton, would do great being titled ‘How Many Lives II’ – as they’re the sort of images you could count the human boxes in. I then realized the whole project could focus around how many lives are affected by these different controlling attributes of society, hence the title. Feasibly it could fit under every image I have created this year.

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Gimmicks

These two images begin the im lovin it’ series, they introduce the corporate bands that create different rules of gimmicks that the nations feel they have to abide too.

The first image has “im lovin’ it" tags across the mannequins eyes, once I placed these over their face - they started to represent a more robotic enforce for their sense of style. Influencing consumers into their blonde hair, dress sense and ultimately consumer lifestyle. The mannequins are raised in a shop to show off the garments, but this does inevitably create some kind of authority between them and consumer. As visible the dolls and lady both have blonde hair - a usually very materialistic choice of hair color. I felt the Boots 'feel good' bag create quite a great irony in this image, as the mannequins force their perfected ways upon young men and women, trying to make them ‘feel good’ - but only send the people round in circles chasing desires, adding to whatever company’s annual profit growth.

This image was taken in Westfield Shopping centre, Stratford.

The second image was taken on a rooftop in Camden, London and gave a panning view of the city. The image as a whole is to represent what these wealthy buildings enforce as a lifestyle. These are the ones who are ‘loving it’  and they should be stopped - because they’re hunger for profit and growth will never stop by itself.

I felt this image needed more to create a uniqueness - so I added an illustration I drew, and two birds. I think this creates quite a contrast between the natural and artificial - ‘a little Birdy told me’ was going to be an alternate title for this image, but I thought it worked well as a duplicate with the other.

When editing the image together, I first had to scan in a collage piece with the flags and bird, then move on to creating suitable colors for the illustration to match the view on Photoshop. I am pleased with this image, as its not often you get to compare London city with a drawing, or anything natural really..

In the book half of the ‘im lovin’ it' flag is lost, and leaves only 'it’. In the future I may cut down the whole image to this so it can spell ‘it gimmicks!’ - and that be the only wording on the flags. I took the image with a tripod, however capturing on windy nights was not to great for the images stability.

How Many Lives (I & II)

These two images follow on in the book from 11oven, they are to represent how many lives are affected by the corporate hammer, and oppression on the first two pages. The images although just shows contemporary society, they more importantly want to question how many peoples lives can be fitted into such a small space. I.e. if you were to count up all the different housing containers.

The first image of these two is where the title of the project developed. With both images I have cut out the line of the background and added a new sky - to create contrast with what you actually see.

The first image is taken in London, Tufnell Park and the second England, Luton. I particularly wanted to capture this shot of Luton since the beginning of my project - because it is surrounded by 9 of the most poverty stricken locations in the whole of the UK. This area desperately needs awareness - even in its architecture as a town, its built downwards in a hole - meaning a huge percentage of the sky is lost for the people living there. You psychically cannot see past many of the buildings, creating a lot of shadows and darkness. Combined with the excessive amount of housing condensed in its area, and airport, it creates quite a oppressed place to live.

Overall I am pleased with these two images, and happy to overcome the plainness of the images by adding new skies. I would have liked to shot this project with a wider lens, so particularly the hole that Luton is built in could be seen.

I was slightly inspired by Chris Jordan for these images too, he photographs the excessive consequences of consumption culture. Here I feel I am photographing the excessive culture of housing (boxes).

11oven

This image was created and inspired when shooting a re-enactment of the highly commercial, Fairy liquid advert for the film in another unit. The idea of the heavily oppressed housewife was an important subject in my project. around the time of filming I was shocked to discover that around the 1950-70, gassing yourself to death in the oven as a women, was quite the common suicide. 

Why did these women feel the need to do this? The feminine lady at this time was living in the Mad Men era. Women prior to the equal pay act and gender fair jobs laws, were left to soak up the constant pressure of adverts titled 'She'll be happier with a hoover at Christmas' or 'Blow in her face, and she'll follow you anywhere', some ads encouraged domestic violence, and others promoted the thrills of baking. It was an absolutely outrageous time for male dominated corporates to press women into their maid.

Then this is where we end up, the final image. The women can not cope with the constant voice from the television/walls shouting that she’s not perfect. There’s so many more things she needs to do, or attain to, when she never actually needed to at all.

I decided on the round image with the two square to create the representation of a hanging portrait. The old style frames that had splitting sections similar to this - helping to give the impression of an older time. The last image is covered by a pink wrapper, I choose to do this as pink has always been stereotypically forced upon women as their color. The idea is that she has been engulfed by the pink stereotype, which pressured her to death.

I viewed a few kitchens before I made the decision on location, as I felt it was very important to have the correct colors surrounding the model. I completed hair, make-up and wardrobe duties also.