Hairy Truths: A Senior Black + White High Dynamic Range Diptych by Skyler Maeso (2016)
Click to read Artist Statement
This diptych is about perspective. One side depicts an angled view of the bleachers and fencing on the football field at school, while the other is a close up shot taken from a worm’s eye view of the track composite ground. The ground shot depicts a hairy lollipop among other miscellaneous debris. I drew inspiration from the last art work in the book, Citizen by Claudia Rankine. It featured a large painting, and a closeup of one section of it. I loved the juxtaposition between the whole image that was pleasing to the eye, and the closeup, which was unsettling. The ocean’s surface carrying the ship-- although tumultuous-- was not unexpected in anyway. The fence and bleacher shot in my piece of art functioned in the same way. Although I shot it at an unexpected angle, the items in the photo were in their correct places, and the shadows they cast seemed natural. The close up image was terribly violent scene, depicting black slaves drowning in the water, made up only a small portion of the full size. The drowning, shackled slaves were disturbing to say the least, and made me wonder what else goes unseen in the world. I thought of examining the ground at LAHS and found a chewed lollipop stick with hair wrapped around it. Pollution is a huge issue we face, and it’s rapidly destroying the planet. The relationship between the fence shot and the ground shot is that they feed off each other. Without one, the other doesn’t exist, and we have to be aware of both to appreciate life. Instead of ignoring the messy and sometimes horrific things, I wanted to expose them, and hope it’s unsettling enough to fix.
When I was walking around LAHS looking for inspiration, it was hard for me to make a decision about what to shoot, as I hadn’t yet solidified the thrust of my personal essay. Without a clear idea about what I wanted to highlight, I photographed far too many things. I purposely didn’t arrange anything in my photos because I knew I wanted to maintain the truthfulness of real life. Since I shot all my photos outside, another problem I encountered was accessibility. There was this amazing trash heap behind a fence, and I couldn’t get up close without hopping the fence (which I almost got in trouble for). Also, I didn’t use a tripod to shoot these photos, because of the weird position I was in, and that resulted in slight variations between the different layers when I merged to HDR. I would have probably tried to steady the camera a little bit more if I could redo this project- especially for the fence shot, because the differences between the layers caused this photo to look blurry. Also, I made mistakes when it came to the photoshop editing process, which definitely limited my ability to alter the photo. In the future, I’d probably test out different angles of the same subject, use a body tripod, and maybe expand my idea about muckraking to outside the boundaries of LAHS.