John Hilliard

I wanted to research into the work of Hilliard as he has directed the power of photography and the artists role in communicating a message to the viewer, therefore challenging the perception that photography can only be a recording or documentary device.

Camera Recording its Own Condition (7 Apertures, 10 Speeds, 2 Mirrors) 1971 John Hilliard born 1945 Presented by Colin St John Wilson 1980

The 1970’s conceptual art movement influences his work as Hilliard stated to look at rules and systems of art when trying to communicate through photography. His piece ‘Camera recording its own position’ has cleverly adopted the camera as devise but also subject. The piece records 7 aperture, 10 speeds and 2 Mirrors by which he fundamentally looks at the mechanics of photography.┬áHis later work shifts to explore the common devises of:

  • Cropping
  • Focusing
  • Capturing

These systems directly effect the reading and interpretation of photographic images which starts to delineated photographic documentation from Fine art practise. In 1972 Hilliard starts looking at imagery in the world and explores the cameras power to depict a site specific social narrative.┬áThese pre planned scenarios have been cropped into different sections, each telling a different story. Hilliard is interested with how photography can be used to deceive an show only part of the story, therefore defying there ‘reliable’ statues as evidence. In his piece ‘Cause of Death’, we are confronted with 4 different situations:

  1. Death by being CRUSHED
  2. Death by DROWNING
  3. Death by FALLING
  4. Death by BURNING


‘Cause of Death’ 1974

I am interested in exploring a similar theme of cropping and using focus to manipulate the ability we have to view a piece of work. I think that its important for the viewer to not just accept what is in-front of them as truth but to question its reliability. I think it could be interesting to experiment with presenting a series of images which have been directed in different ways, allowing the viewer to exercise discernment.




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