It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, not because of lock-down but mainly because I’ve been really busy with my MA Fine Art which will end in September 2021. As far as my work is concerned it has changed quite dramatically over the last few months, it wasn’t an intentional decision, it just seems to be the direction in which my MA Fine Art has taken me, pushing me out of my comfort zone and stretching my imagination.
Doing my MA has also given me more options for future projects. I’ve been a photographer for over thirty years and as a photographer you get pigeon holed and are expected to shoot in a certain way because clients book you for your style. Now that I’m working on my own projects and on my own terms, I can expand and use all of the things that I’ve enjoyed using in the past. For instance, I’ve shot and directed videos for various clients, I used to enjoy painting and sculpting. I came to the realisation that I could now pull all of these practices together to form my practice as an artist to use which ever discipline that suits the project that I’m working on.
The project that I’m working on at the moment ‘There’s Someone in my Head’ is a self-portrait installation based on Carl Jung’s four main archetypes, The Self, The Shadow, Anima/Animus and Persona.
The work is made up of sculptures, video, performance, and dialogue. After a lot of experimenting with shop bought mannequins, I decided to make my own hand made sculptures / effigies that I can then project moving portraits of myself onto the effigies to bring them to life, each effigy talks about things related to which ever archetype they are, in a kind of Samuel Beckett style monologue.
Below are some photos and videos of my effigies taken for an online private viewing of a work in progress exhibition Unmasked.
Top Left: The Self ( with a real Xray of my chest for it’s body)
Bottom Left: Anima/Animus (2 heads)
Bottom Middle: Persona
I’m still in the middle of making The Shadow which I have found to be the hardest of them all to make and have been putting it off for months. I wasn’t sure if it should be a piece made with similar materials and aesthetic or whither it should be something totally different or whither it should just be part of the written theory. I decided that The Shadow should be of a similar aesthetic other wise it wouldn’t fit in with the other effigies as a whole installation. The Shadow apart from being the part of you that you don’t want to show to the world is also the control room, the store house of your creativity as well as your sex drive and passion. I have loads of new creative ideas for The Shadow and will look forward to sharing them in the near future.
I’ve been working on my ‘Self-i’ project for the last few of months. last September I embarked on an MA Fine art degree `( I know – oldest student in town ) to try to push my art and to give me the next two years of just experimenting with my ideas. If I’m being honest, I would have hated the self-i images only a year ago as they didn’t fit in with my purist / classical ( with an edge ) style of photography, I would have thought that they were too contrived but I’ve been pushing myself out of my comfort zone for this project and really trying to experiment, I’m actually enjoying it and looking forward to experimenting with other projects in the future. Because selfie’s are mainly the domain of social media and live online and this module is about curating a site specific exhibition, I thought it fitting that the exhibition should be a virtual exhibition in an online gallery and promoted via social media. One of the many good things that have come out of this project is that I have taught myself some new creative tools; building Virtual Reality worlds / spaces which I’m looking forward to using in future projects. To view the Virtual Gallery here’s the link https://ianphillipsmclaren.com/vg/ and to view the images from the project here’s that link https://ianphillipsmclaren.com/self-i/ see below for the project text.
My previous project Gwen – ‘Did I Want To Be Here ? examined dementia as a state of being and attempted to reflect that state using ideas about layering and identity. This current work has led me deeper into themes related to memory, identity and specifically the construction of self in our visual culture.
The question, Who are you and how do you know? Sits central to my virtual gallery.
Framing personal identity in the context of the pursuit of perfection and an idea that there is a normal from which we fear to deviate, I want to explore the concept such as:
- Is ‘who I am only validated by approval from my peers and contemporaries?
- Do I need to distort and manipulate my image in order to gain approval?
- Does the individual start to lose their true identity by constantly presenting a curated self?
The selfie is a millennial social phenomenon. Once the sole domain of teenagers, it has now permeated our culture on a grand scale arguably distorting how we perceive ourselves and how we want to be perceived, as we turn the camera in on ourselves. Selfie’s may provide people with a sense of validation and connectedness when they see their friends pop up on their social media accounts. And then there is the great rush, the boost of dopamine we receive when someone ‘likes’ our photo.
There may be a darker side to this romance with our own constructed and selected image, a Swansea University study (www.bbcwales.com, 2018) states that selfies fuel narcissism, a sense of entitlement and the need for admiration. The selfie has been described as a desperate form of exhibitionism (Storr,W. 2017). It seemed interesting therefore to put these self-selected portraits in an exhibition that existed in a virtual realm. If they are our constructed selves, then may be putting them in a space that is constructed is a way of turning up the gain. Asking the audience to reflect deeply as they leave (come out of the construct) rather than during the experience on the reality of self.
In essence selfies, it could be argued are a form of self-portrait and the West has a rich history in this respect. It starts with Albrecht Dürer signing his famous self-portrait age 28 in the early 1500’s. Unwittingly, (or was it? We will never know) he started an enduring cultural phenomenon that has found form in all artistic media across the globe, that of depicting your face as the place that you reside (your self). In the creation of a selfie artist and subject are fused (literally and metaphorically). We take a form that has traditions and accepted boundaries and then create many copies of our self. I wonder if these copies are a way of saying I am here. Here is my self.
When Van Gogh and Kahlo painted self-portraits, it was to interpret their emotional landscape. Van Gogh even depicted his self as a chair. However, more commonly now self-portraits captured on Digital Media serves the purpose of capturing “our best life” – perfect, the ideal, no matter how far removed that image may be from reality.
For whatever reason, there seems to be an impulse for humans to make images of themselves. There is a common connection between painted self-portraits, photographic self-portraits and the humble selfie, arguably they all refer to the ‘human condition’ of self, the “who are you”.
By using the mechanism of self-portraits, I want to capture the subject’s exploration of themselves. Their face and body language – capturing what is happening, their sense of self at that specific moment in time. How do they manifest the ‘ego’ part of identity, seen as the ‘ideal self’, the image that they want to be put out into the world? The part that is putting on a show for other people. Do they acknowledge they are putting on an act or do they actually believe their own act?
With the proliferation of Smart Phones with high definition cameras and the abundance and easy to use software, the norm today is to retouch and put photos through filters and textures to make us look different or better in our own eyes. My intention was to experiment with a variety of processes and techniques to explore my interpretation of filters and textures in this respect.
Squaring the Circles of Confusion; Neo-Pictorialism in the 21st century exhibition.
This new exhibition, curated by Zelda Cheatle, celebrates the work of artists Takashi Arai, Susan Derges, David George, Joy Gregory, Tom Hunter, Ian Phillips McLaren, Celine Bodin and Spencer Rowell who each bring a pictorialist approach, through aesthetics or process to their contemporary work, addressing important issues and encouraging the beauty of the photographic image.
Date and Time
10 April until 21 June 2020
Thursday – Sunday 10am – 5pm
This is a gum bichromate print from my recent ‘Drive By’ series called ‘The Road To Debden’ I decided to leave some brush marks on the bottom of this image to reinforce that this is a photograph made with watercolour pigment.
This is my first post on this domain name IanPhillipsMcLaren.com after running with ipmclaren.com for the last couple of years for my fine art photography work. Things were starting to get a bit confusing using variations of my name, so thought I’d stick with my full name Ian Phillips McLaren. After 30 years of Fashion and portrait photography for various large companies / magazines / clients, I decided to move away from commercial photography to get back to making images for me. In order to immerse myself fully in fine art work, I’m starting my Fine Art masters degree at Cambridge Ruskin university / Cambridge School Of Art on 18th September 2019, possibly as the oldest student in town. I will post updates on my work and degree work as I go, on this blog.
Here are a couple of recent shots from my Drive By series.
Some new gum prints shot down my lane, originally shot as digital, then printed CMY negatives, and printed as a gum bichromate print. The print is made up of 12 layers of watercolour pigment on watercolour paper and took just over one week to make.