Who am I?

This work was created for the contest “Composit. Who am I?” organized by Tony Miroballo – Fotografia Esoterica in 2020
The aim of the contest was to develop an authentic consciousness of the identity of the photographer while taking photographs of himself.
Here is my  statement.

“To photograph is to see and want to see first of all”, says Ugo Mulas in his work “Verifiche”. Yet in this seeing he himself met a limit: the self-portrait. During the photographic process, at the moment of focusing, the photographer cannot see himself, the camera excludes him. But what if our seeing was not the one before the shot, that of focusing, the moment in which we and the camera see the same thing? The machine, due to its technical characteristics, on which Mulas himself reflects in his “Verifiche”, has a different “seeing” from ours, which we can only take note of after the machine has taken its picture. A snapshot lasting a few seconds for the camera is a single image, for us they are moments of life in which we move, breathe, think, feel. So, I put the camera on the tripod, in front of a white wall, with a small light source behind me. I focus on the wall, I press the button, the shutter opens and after a few seconds the light behind me goes out, in the darkness of the room I turn in front of the camera and stop with my back to the wall, then the light comes on again and after a few more seconds the shutter finally closes. I repeat the operation four times: a close-up, a half-length, an American-style and a full figure. What is needed for the composite card, the sheet that says everything about a model, the sheet that summarizes the role of the image itself, that is, the self-sufficiency of representation through the reduction of reality.

And every time the camera took its picture, I see what I couldn’t see when I focused and pressed the button, I see what the camera saw, for it a single image, for me an experience: the shadow of me pressing the button, me with my back against the wall, my shadow while being photographed. The white wall with the scratched plaster becomes a screen on which the light casts shadows and reveals presences, a sort of code that generates these shadows and presences. My corporality and my shadows are pervaded by this code that unites them, puts them on the same physical and temporal level. The machine is the only dark area not encompassed by the vertical scrolling code, which supports the entire image. Absolute darkness that pierces the screen, breaks the code. My shadow that clicks looks into the darkness of the camera that does not let see anything through and yet meets me, myself, herself.

Composite card: in each image there are several states of consciousness coexisting in me during the shot: I who shoot, I who are photographed, I who perceive, I who move, I who see. I see my shadow as I press the button that meets me and the shadow of me as I am photographed in a continuous reciprocal mirroring. And it is me in everything that the camera has seen, even when I am only a shadow, because I keep traces of it in my experience, because my shadow is the irreversible and ineluctable expression of the passage of my consciousness into the light. This encounter between the shadows that look at each other and look at me and that I look at creates a continuous, circular movement, an uninterrupted flow that remains in the frame because the camera, with its “seeing”, makes it visible to me too.

Close up: the shadow that clicks does not look at me, but the shadow behind me, which seems to detach itself, take a step sideways to be seen, to look into the dark, called by the shadow that clicks. I look into space in front of me but it is as if I see what happens on my left.

Half bust: the shadow that clicks looks directly at me, while my shadow, which is adherent to my body, follows my profile and emphasizes my presence and supports me. I am in a slightly lower position than the camera and this puts me in awe. I know I’m being watched. The shadow that clicks is questioning me.

American style: my shadow is almost hidden behind my body, I move away, dissipating, I look at the camera that this time is below me, I look at my shadow that clicks and I have no fear, no awe. It is she who waits and listens. I am about to speak.

Full figure: the shadow that clicks looks at a movement in which my bodily presence incorporates my shadow, all my possible shadows, based on my position with respect to the light. My presence is just a projection on a screen of a consciousness that uses my body to float in the light, and then I become dematerialized myself, a nuance, a movement of shadows and colors. A consciousness that contemplates the experience of life.