Tag Archives: Sophy Rickett

Research: Images accompanied by text and audio

Sophie Calle’s Take care of yourself

The art works to deconstruct the text, interpret and transpose it’s meaning. In one video exhibit the letter is read aloud by a professional female clown. In another there are large hung canvasses displaying the text in braille (image below) and shorthand versions seemingly acting as metaphors used to re-evaluate the significance of the letter and in turn it’s author.


Sophie Calle Taken from Take Care Of Yourself 

What follows is an extract from the interpretation made by a female criminologist and a contributor to the project:

“This email if it is authentic is apparently written by a seductive manipulator who maintains a relationship of dominance and influence over others. His is a non aggressive influence, the influence of someone adept with words, who has the capacity to pass off any negative act on his part in a manner that places himself in the position of victim obviating himself of blame and making the person he is speaking to feel guilty.” (http://artintelligence.net/review/?p=147) accessed 05/05/16

The sheer vastness of interpretations and opinions begin to take over and become an overwhelming avalanche of forensic detail and information to the viewer. This creates a powerful emotional force generated from within such a narrow formal brief and has resulted in a varied and complex body of work which can be interpreted in a number of ways and on a number of different levels but it was at it’s most simplistic Sophie Calle’s way of taking care of herself.

The work reflects postmodern approaches to narrative in that there is not a clear linear story line or plot but a complex melting pot of evidence from which the viewer can reflect upon, interpret and ultimately judge if they so wish.

Calle’s work has been labelled a simple act of revenge, she disagrees and supporting this claim is her artistic history which has consistently used human emotion and reaction as it’s subject matter. Others can interpret in whichever way we choose relative to our own histories, opinions and motivations.

It’s prompts many thoughts, emotions and questions about human action and reaction, relative control, emotions and their disruption, gender identity, behaviours and ultimately relationships. I really enjoyed trying to understand the depth of thought which underpins this art work and really enjoyed attempting it’s review.

Sophy Rickett’s Objects in the field

This work can be viewed at: https://thephotographersgalleryblog.org.uk/2014/03/19/sophy-rickett-objects-in-the-field/ (accessed 05/05/16)

The series was made during Rickett’s artistic residency at the Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge (IoA). Initially reworking original negatives from an obsolete scientific programme Rickett progressed the work to include a series of improved aesthetic images plus a wider range of original images plus a text essay which links together a number of passages containing memories of the artist from her childhood and early adult life plus her uneasy experiences of working closely with the original scientist.

In an interview with Sharon Boothroyd of OCA the artist concludes, “the work came to be about a kind of symbiosis on the one hand, but on the other there is a real tension, a sense of us resisting one another. The material in the middle stays the same, but its kind of contested, fought over.” It is clear that artist Sophy Rickett was extremely interested in making sure that the original scientist Dr. Wilstrop was an active participant in the process and tried to make some sense of their interaction for the completeness of her artistic work.

The patchwork structure of the essay placed together with the range of images included in the series reflects a postmodern narrative approach of creating a fluid and complex structure allowing and inviting the viewer to participate in the process of interpretation. It prompted me to think about collective knowledge and opinions, relationships and how we interact with others and how this looks from within and outside ourselves. Very interesting in it’s composition and the personal approach of the artist.

New York Times One in 8 million

A collection of mini projects which overlays black and white images of 54 New Yorkers with audio clips of the specific individuals speaking on subjects specific to their lives.

A really interesting way of showing the diversity of people in the city and further evidence of how text either visual or verbal changes the whole viewing experience and with it our perception.

This collection can be viewed by following the link:


Kaylyn Deveney The Day-to-Day Life of Alfred Hastings  


Kaylyn Deveney taken from The Day-To-Day life of Alfred Hastings

In this project the artist asks the subject to make their own captions on her images and, “thereby adding a critical second perspective to this work.” (Deveney, K)

I ‘am now beginning to realize just how powerful text can be in terms of defining the meaning of an image which is quite frightening given the amount of exposure we all now have to text accompanied images in a mass media dominated society.

Equally significant is our collective knowledge of images and (perceived) meanings and the codes and signals linking the two. This is of major significance when we begin to try to understand why we perceive things the way we do but also how many different individual interpretations are therefore possible.

Karen Knorr

Gentlemen (1981-1983) was photographed in Saint James’s clubs in London and investigated the patriarchal conservative values of Britain during the early 1980s. The images are combined with text in a critical and playful manner again demonstrating how the use of relay can really add direction and therefore impact to the meaning of an image.


Karen Knorr taken from the series Gentlemen 

Gentlemen (1981-1983) was photographed in Saint James’s clubs in London and investigated the patriarchal conservative values of Britain during the early 1980s. The images are combined with text in a critical and playful manner again demonstrating how the use of relay can really add direction and therefore greater impact to the meaning of an image.

The final piece of research is a photograph by Duane Michals entitled This Photograph is My Proof (1974)

We are asked whether the image (is) actually proof of a happy liaison or is that just what we choose to see? What do you (we) think?


Duane Michals This Photograph Is My Proof

Below the photograph above Michals writes,

This photograph is my proof. There was that afternoon, when things were still good between us, and she embraced me, and we were so happy. It did happen, she did love me. Look see for yourself! 

A literal explanation might be that the couple are now no longer happy and this is a reminder of times gone by. However it is Duane Michals’ interest in the relationship between reality and fiction which tests the believability of photography which prompts us to consider whether we can rely upon the image and text to be authentic but instead should question whether there was ever a relationship between the couple and we are in fact viewing an elaborate constructed act.

A clue lies in another Duane Michals image (below).


Duane Michals A Failed Attempt To Photograph Reality


Accompanying text certainly adds an additional layer in influencing and controlling the definition of meaning of the image. The inclusion of text seems to create the need for us to have a definite opinion and such is the role of language in our culture this seems to multiply any critical analysis.

As always the broader context including the motivation of the artist and now the perspective of the viewer contribute in developing any potential interpretation but when used correctly text can convert the purpose of the photograph into an entirely entity and into a different realm of thinking.

Reference List

An overview of Sophie Calle’s Take care of yourself can be seen at:

https://www.paulacoopergallery.com/exhibitions/sophie-calle-take-care-of-yourself/installation-views (accessed 05/05/16)

An article reviewing Sophie Calle’s Take care of yourself can be found at http://artintelligence.net/review/?p=147 (accessed 05/05/16)

Chrisafis, A. (2007) He loves me not. Guardian website 16/06/07. Can be viewed at:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2007/jun/16/artnews.art (accessed 05/05/16)

An overview of Sophy Rickett’s Objects in the Field can be seen at:

https://thephotographersgalleryblog.org.uk/2014/03/19/sophy-rickett-objects-in-the-field/ (accessed 05/05/16)

New York Times one in 8 million


(Accessed 06/05/2016)


(accessed 06/05/16)

Kaylyn Deveney image taken from http://kaylynndeveney.com/bert-grid (accessed 06/05/16)

Karen Knorr’s work can be seen at:

http://karenknorr.com/photography/gentlemen/ (accessed 06/05/16)


Duane Michals A failed attempt to photograph reality can be seen at:

http://www.reframingphotography.com/content/duane-michals (accessed 07/05/16)