The Constructed Image, is obviously in some way constructed. Every photograph in someway is perhaps constructed, even in a realist street photograph, a decisive moment sort of photograph, there is a element of construction in the way the photograph is composed, but some photographs are very deliberately and overtly constructed. The very deliberate contrusted photography can be used for a variety of things when the artist is not only in control of the camera, but also the scene in front of it. Some can tell stories, others be statements, some fantastical visual treats and some recreations of real events. Sometimes, the lines of the fake and reality blurr is weird ways.
Jeff WallJeff Wall is a veteran practitioner of the constructed image in Photography, and reconstructing and reinterpreting of scenes from art is one of his specialties. In 1979 for example, his work Picture for Woman reinterpreted Manet's painting Un Bar aux Folies-Bergère in a more modern context, maintaining the nuances of the original painting such as the artist's own reflection in the mirror, but Wall goes further in that as part of his construction of the image, he leaves the processes in the creation of the image very much visible, the camera itself in shot, reflected in the mirror and the reflections of other pieces of studio equipment. To recreate a painted image in such a thought out way would be unlikely to happen with just a realist sort of approach, the construction of the image is vital to make sure all the elements come together in the right way. Wall's creation is a reconstruction, which is be definition a form of construction. The elements of the painting are quite faithfully reconstructed, the large mirror, the woman and her pose, the bar and the artist in the mirror, but in Wall's own way, the construction of the image has his own mark to it in the rawness of the studio and obviousness of the means of construction.
Similarly, in 1993, Wall once again delved into art history by re-imagining photographically a Japanese woodcut called Travelers Caught in a Sudden Breeze at Eriji (1832) by Katsushika Hokusai into a more modern context. While the scene depicts something that could happen in reality, but by small chance, Wall's recreation captures a scene too perfect to not be a constructed scene. The nature of the constructed image allows Wall to make such scenes a reality. What makes images like this further fall from the real and into the fake and constructed if the elements of digital manipulation. Each individual piece of paper caugh in the breeze in Wall's image was added in during the post production proscess.
A Picture for Woman information source: http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/jeff-wall/room-guide/jeff-wall-room-1
A A Sudden Gust of Wind (after Hokusai) information source: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/wall-a-sudden-gust-of-wind-after-hokusai-t06951
Much information recorded and remembered from lecture and mentioned in notes.
Cindy Sherman over the years has made many self portraits with a filmic quality to them, all of the contstructed photgraphs. Her famous Untitles Film Stills are a series of self portraits that look like very much like actual film stills. The whole nature of them is constructed, they way they are inteded to appear like something else, the composition of the images and the make-up and costumes and to some degree, sets, that have gone into the creation of these images. Sherman started the series in 1977 and went about playing with pop culture and the cliches of Hollywood and the advertising industry. Another element of construction in the series of the is the way all of her characters are themselves inventions of her own creation, thus in a way, even the subjects of these images are fake and constructed, though through clever means of construction, the characters feel somehow recognisable in some way, thanks to the nature of pop culture.
A good source of Cindy Sherman info: http://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/1997/sherman/
Also, the notes from lectures provided a great deal of information.Along similar lines to some of Jeff Wall's work recreating images from the art world, Sherman also played with the idea of recreating, at least recapturing the spirit of, historical portraits, in a body of work refered to as not too surprisingly, Historical Portraits. Again, these required lots of construction in many ways, such as elaborate sets, costumes and make up, composistion, and in the case of these images, careful attention to lighting and colour control, as so to capture the aestetic of old paintings.
In the realm of constructed photography, Crewdson's big elaborate sets take constructed photography to new expensive levels. Know for big budget productions with large set pieces like constucted living rooms atop water tanks and entire sections of towns over to shoot in, Gregory Crewdson creates scenes that usually combine themes of the domestic, the filmic and paranormal.
And element of recreation of images from art history is again apparent in Crewdson's work, in his Ophelia image, there is a rather overt reference to the Ophelia painting by John Everett Millias. This trend is not something new in art, as many other painters have created their own version of the depicted Shakespearean scene, as have other photographers.
Japanese photographer Yasumasa Morimura in a manner much like Cindy Sherman created a series of self portraits, that again, like many other photographers working with the constructed image, recreated many other images, in Morimura's case, often famous portraits. Some of his images also start to explore themes like sexual identity too, as he often cross dresses in the construction of his images.
Working in with still life photography, Levinthal creates scenes out of toys. With his work, there is a sort of fine tuned construction his photography in the way he builds the scenes, be it a Barbie doll posed like a Playboy model or a bombed out Russian city as Wehrmacht troops trudge through its landscape. I personally have become a big fan of Levithal's work, and find it very interesting. In works like Hitler Moves East Levithal constructs scenes of struggle and strife of the German advance into Russia during WWII using model soldiers to do it. In his construction of the images, he brings a sense of drama and humanity to lifeless toys. He does something very similar in Mein Kampf exploring the Nazi rise to power through the same model medium. His images with toys, while faked, do start to blur into the realistic, as the wartime imitatuin photograph look very much like something a soldier in the battle may have taken with his camera or the near ideantial compsition and model pose of a Barbie doll to a real life fashion model.