Photographer & Artist
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SPECTRAL SHORES

A journal by photographer Jeanette Bolton-Martin
Collected field notes, thoughts & photographs

2019 & Ghosts in the Machine

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Before Christmas I had the pleasure of working with Hannah Crystal on two shoots, one for a new designer brand and the other was a test shoot for a personal project I’m thinking about working on in the coming year. We shot at Nunnsyard Gallery in Norwich which is a brilliant space for not only shows, but shoots. This shoot was a lot of fun, both in terms of team and the process. I don’t use colour gels nearly enough.

This project has been lingering in my mind for a few months, but as of yet I’m not sure how it will progress as it is a departure from my usual style of photo and also my usual research paths.

The problem I’ve often found is that I have a range of interests, from the intersection of time, memory and place to the more abstract notions of the sublime, the uncanny and it’s sisters, the weird and the eerie. With a love for the scientific, natural history and folk horror, I’ve often had a hard time trying to define my practice as one thing. 

Ultimately, I’ve come to the realisation that my practice is in part a reflection of my personality and interests, both of which are electric and that it can be a good vehicle to explore these wide ranging ideas in a way that can better focus my research. So, I’ve begun feeling out the foundations of another project inspired by another of my great loves: science fiction. 

Science fiction has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember; growing up in a household where my family enjoyed shows such as Star Trek and listening to Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of War of the Worlds. It was during my MA I began exploring that influence on my work and my interest in making work via this lens as science fiction. It can be a great genre to explore current and contemporary concerns which allows for an analytical distance. For that project I collaborated with concept artist Holly McGergor and between us we created the world of ‘Schism’, an interdisciplinary research and practice project bridging the worlds of photography and games concept art.

Unlike the hopes of Frankenstein’s Monster, the cyborg does not expect its father to save it through restoration of the garden; that is, through the fabrication of a heterosexual mate, through its completion in a finished whole, a city and cosmos. The cyborg does not dream of community on the model of the organic family, this is a time without the Oedipal project. The cyborg would not recognise the Garden of Eden; it is not made of mud and cannot dream of returning to dust
— A Cyborg Manifesto, Donna Haraway // 1985

Exploring ideas of divergent paths of human evolution and the tension between the progression of modern technology and a pull away from what could be considered natural; Schism was a fun project to work on and wetted my appetite to explore the use of science fiction themes, aesthetics and tropes within future projects. 

Over the last year of working in a commercially focused practice, I’ve not paid much attention to my personal projects, which is something I want to redress this year.  In terms of progress from this shoot, I’m not sure what direction this will go, but it’s been fun getting back into the habit of stretching the creative muscles. 

Team:
Model & MUA: Hannah Crystal
Assistant: Holly Moore