The New Zero is an ongoing project which plays on the nature of photography and it’s ability to assemble and disassemble layers of history.
In 1999, Yaron Lapid found several envelopes on the floor or a recently demolished area in Jerusalem. Inside the envelopes contained hundreds of black and white photographs and negatives which were assumed to be “leftovers” of a former photographic studio.
Lapin has repossessed the found material to create a non-typical family album that consists of moving portraits that fluidly fade to black before revealing their main features. The video is consisting this moving image focuses on the detail of how the portraits were taken, for example, body posture, clothes and accessories which suggests the time these pictures were taken in and the habits and clothing of Jerusalem.
The video is played on a loop, and this reinforces the sense of a stratified past that cannot be pictured at once. However, it has slowly informed the layers of a multi-faceted society – a society where formal differences are marked as cultural oppositions.
These photographs have frozen a particular moment of an individuals history, turning it into a visual archive that allows the viewer to use their imagination to fill in the missing gaps.
I decided to look at Yaron Lapid’s work via youtube (See video link above) and his website because he managed to construct a project based around found imagery, which is something that I strongly relating my work into for this unit.
All the images are constructed using a similar fashion – the head, torso and shoulders fin into the compositional frame and in the same manner (as if there was a set rule to apply to taking these portraits). What I find intriguing about Yaron Lapid’s video work is that all the images are cropped at the same position – above the nose, below the eyes, as if Lapid was trying to conceal the identity of the sitter in the portrait.
Is he trying to hide their identity?
Why is he trying to conceal their identity?
Despite the working creating these questions about hiding their identity, it also allows the audience to have some fun with their imagination of how the sitters would look like (trying to guess their facial characteristics) and guess what type of background they come from by only having the visuals of what clothes they are wearing and the accessories too (EG: Glasses).
All the pictures are monochrome, and to me this suggests that LApid has taken a scientific approach to creating his work. Having all the colours removed from the images gives everybody a sense that they are uniformed – being a member of a group and that they should be looked at as equals no matter the gender or clothing they wear. Having this approach can link directly to the fact that these images have actually been archived digitally and that they should be be viewed as a collection or together.
Personally, I feel that the cropping of the sitter’s faces is too extreme for me – I want to be able to use portraits in my digital screening and for me to do so, the audience needs to know who the identity of the person is to be able to engage a personal response to my collection of work.