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Whenever I seem far away by Rhoufi

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Whenever I seem far away by 

October 2011 Juried
Invitational Exhibition
                  “Whenever I seem far away” is a Photographic Art Translation of Richard Sunderland’s traditional, oil-on-canvas art work, Hand Jive
See “Whenever I seem far
away” in the Exhibition

The translation is explained in these three stages:
1.  The Search for Place
2.  The Search for People
3.  The Search for Meaning

To reveal art and conceal the artist,
is art’s aim.

Oscar Wilde – “The Picture of Dorian Gray”

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  • Rhoufi
    Rhoufiabout 3 years ago

    When I first saw Richard’s “Hand Jive”, it was not the wedding as such, or the dancing, that exerted the inspiration, but the apparent perspective of something going on “outside” when viewed from “inside”. At the start I did not fully appreciate what the feeling was, but I decided I wanted to capture a single photograph in the style of a classic “street photograph” which had the same dynamism, shadow people, distant lights and mysterious goings on. In particular, it had to be at night and it had to have the same “unsettling feeling” that drew me to translate “Hand Jive” in the first place.

    It would have to be an opportunistic photo, captured on the run when the right scene reared up in front of me. After the first two of the Workshop I finally realized that the feeling I had sensed was that of intense loneliness. If you attend a wedding by yourself and have no partner in your life, weddings can be the worst places to be. You’ve all seen those people sitting alone at their table while everyone is dancing. They look every which way, disappear outside for long stretches, walk around, go to the toilet more than needed – all the time they’re wishing they weren’t there at all. That’s the Point of View (POV) I received with Richard’s painting, and after the first two WIP’s that’s what I knew I was searching for.

    The two links below detail my Work-In-Progress during the Workshop:

    WIP #1 – The Search for Place
    WIP #2 – The Search for People

    And so “Whenever I seem far away” is my Final, Photographic Art Translation of Richard’s original, traditional artwork, “Hand Jive”. It was taken at the final curtain call for a play and the blurred figures in the background are the actors leaving the stage. The final photo shifted POV from the photographer and his camera to an “over the shoulder”, shallow Depth of Field view of some activity in the distance, that is blurred, mysterious, enticing and the subject of a possible resentment within the viewer. To capture the intimacy of thought, the character is in focus, his body language suggestive, and his demeanour detached. He takes on the roll of “outsider”, disengaged and removed – just like the single guest at the wedding sitting out the dances and longing to be somewhere else entirely.

    Although there are many technical, photographic problems with “Whenever I seem far away”, such as the blown-out highlights on the back of the man disappearing behind the curtain, this image is the one which is less of a replication or reproduction of “Hand Jive”, and more of a translation or interpretation. It has more of the “meaning” and the “feeling” of “Hand Jive” and is therefore a far more satisfying image for me. Street photography that involves people is the biggest game of chance in town. You have to find the place with the POV you want, and you can only hope that the people arrive on cue and move the way you need them to. It took three weeks of searching the streets, cafes, theatres and plazas of Melbourne to chance upon the scene that is captured here. Although I like the photos that were presented in both WIP’s, “Whenever I seem far away” is by far my favourite translation of Richard’s painting.

    I would like to thank Richard, Frannie, Elizabeth, Maxy, Qnita and everyone in the SoJie 14 Workshop for helping me through another Workshop. It sure was some search and some journey to get to the end.

  •                                                              AWARDS

    Photographic Art – 2nd Place
    M-Mission Photography Award
    Excellence in Mood And Lighting
    SoJie 14 October 2011

    – Rhoufi

  • Rhoufi
    Rhoufiabout 3 years ago

  • F.A. Moore
    F.A. Mooreabout 3 years ago

    What a great overall effect of the outsider looking in. It’s almost as if he viewing a play. We are not even sure what it is he’s seeing. It does seem that there is an exterior, beyond a patio door. That leaves us to contemplate him, and how he is feeling at this very moment in time. Does he want to be included, or does he enjoy the passivity of observer? Is he wishing he was there, or glad he’s not, or does the scene take him elsewhere, on a journey through history in his mind?

    I appreciate the journey you took to come to a solid interpretation of Richard’s piece, and seek out and find just the right image to convey it. Congratulations, Rhoufi!

  • Ah Frannie, so glad you are the first to notice. This POV I have used is something I call Photographic 2nd Person; it’s like the 2nd person in narration and if you can get the composition right it can achieve all the tings you have said here. I took it at play not far from where we live and there was only about 20 people in the audience. But it took me a while to decide it had the stuff I wanted. In the end, when I look at it now, I’m happy with the result. Thank you for your guidance and your comment – I made it, phew! Down to the wire again, eh ;-)))

    – Rhoufi

  • F.A. Moore
    F.A. Mooreabout 3 years ago

    Rhoufi, I apologize for typing before reading your description, above.

  • If I wasn’t so verbose in my descriptions you might have spotted it. You have so much on your plate – nothing to be sorry about. Thank you.

    – Rhoufi

  • Lana Wynne
    Lana Wynneabout 3 years ago

    Hi, Rhoufi, such an excellent translation here! I love it a lot! I also liked your 2A WIP with #5 and those gorgeous colors (similar to Richard’s color palette). You have done an outstanding job with this one! Center figure of Richards painting is sitting now as a observer, I love the fact that even his hair cut is the same. The mood, the lighting and the colors are wonderfully captured in this shot. Great job! Huge congratulations!

  • Lana, thank you. Both WIP 2A and this one were handed to me really – I was amazed that I found that table with all the similarities to Richard’s painting. But, now that I look, you are right – the standing man in Richard’s painting and the seated man in my “Whenever…” look so similar: the dark suit, the white shirt collar, the facial tone and the haircut – what an amazing fluke. Maybe this was the unconscious cue that caused me to raise the camera. Thanks for your wonderful comment and observation.

    – Rhoufi

  • Richard Sunderland
    Richard Sunder...about 3 years ago

    “Whenever I see far away” translate “Hand Jive” by taking the noise out of the painting and places us in the silence of the mind of the beholder. This allows us to be a participant, and it allows us the freedom too, to ask ourselves questions.

    “What if, I was on the dance floor?”
    I wish the noise would stop!
    Why can’t I have the confidence to get up there and have a good time?
    What is the energy here?

    The clarity of the man contrasting against the background is brilliant, a clearly acknowledged situation against many “maybes”. The silhouetted head seems to be literally a black and white scenario, him and us. In my painting the tables and chairs are the barrier to participation. It is a fence that allows us to sit and observe. in “Whenever…” the man is the barrier and the way in. Rhoufi has seen the awkwardness that inhabits all of us in certain situations. “The intimacy of thought.” allows us to slip into this body and feel the multiple scenarios of the wedding, party guest, the audience in a theatre. I wonder… I wonder at his thoughts. The edge of the silhouette is buzzing with electricity, the ambient light ensuring we clearly see his identity. So many possible abstract emotions can be identified, fragility, anticipation, detachment, warmth, just a few to mention. Whereas “Hand Jive” is an observer of the emotive moments at an event “Whenever…” buts us into what is going on inside his head.

    Rhoufi through the eye of the camera has caught a human thinking, and sometimes in these moments we are alone.

    Rhoufi your persistence and determination to find your image has been a remarkable journey, the frustration and pain, …it has been great to share thoughts and experiences with you.

    You are a colossus, and a terrific visionary. Thank you for selecting “Hand Jive”.

  • Oh Richard, how can I reply to this?!!!!!! You’re my dream art critic, for sure. Well, really everything looked like it was falling apart before WIP #1. My original observation of an “outside” viewed from “inside” was really just the way your painting “hit” in an obvious way, and it took WIP #1 & #2 to identify what I was really looking for. That of course made the quest harder but more focused. I took a lot of photos over the 3 weeks, and looking back over them made me realize that it was meaning I was looking for. I try to embed meaning in all my photos, but rarely achieve it. This time I really had to and that made it all the more urgent.

    I am very pleased you like this image. I guess you can allow yourself to see it less as “photograph” and more as “art”. A purely photographic observation would see the technical faults in the extreme exposure differences, but you see “The edge of the silhouette is buzzing with electricity, the ambient light ensuring we clearly see his identity.” Boy does that please me! I would like to say that I intended such effects, but really I had only seconds to capture what I saw, and I was lucky to have anything at all, considering the low light I had to work with. The faults did give me some “paint” to work with in the processing software, so the effects you noticed were exaggerated a little.

    Your observation of “The intimacy of thought.” is something I am interested in and as I told Frannie above – “This POV I have used is something I call Photographic 2nd Person; it’s like the 2nd person in narration and if you can get the composition right it can… " evoke the feelings you observe. It does require a certain posture and a background that draws interest. I was lucky to find this in the restricted 3 weeks we had. Really, I was very lucky to pull this off, to be honest. There are more examples of me playing with this technique in my gallery.

    Did you notice Lana’s observation above about how your standing man and my seated man look so similar: the dark suit, the white shirt collar, the facial tone and the haircut – what an amazing fluke.

    “Hand Jive” really selected me – once I saw it, I was hooked by the initial evocation and that was that. I am very happy it worked out and I thank you (and dear Frannie) for giving me the reason to keep going.

    Many thanks Richard, I’m so glad I got there, because it means we are BOTH in the Exhibition now, phew!

    I will post this reply into the Forum as well.

    – Rhoufi

  • Dwarkan
    Dwarkanabout 3 years ago

    Superb translation dear Rhoufi… love the contrast you introduced between the man and the background !

  • Merci Dominique, I would love to claim deliberate artistic intent in the composition and camera settings, but I will have to admit that luck was on my side that night. Still luck is a very cool companion, so I don’t mind giving him/her some credit. Merci, et j’espère que vous êtes bien

    – Rhoufi

  • LisaMM
    LisaMMabout 3 years ago

    Wonderful work, deeply moving.

  • Thank you Lisa, I’m pleased you found that.

    – Rhoufi

  • 1more photo
    1more photoabout 3 years ago

    One amongst the crowd ….
    Makes me think of those situations when any noise becomes a storm
    any word a violent vibe

    when we can feel watching life without being in it….

    It’s a great great photo
    and a fabulous answer to Richard’s work

  • Merci Magali,

    the idea that there are many people “watching life without being in it…” is what is really behind my translation and my photo (lots of my photos). We must always remember to empathize with anyone who battles with that brewing storm, and help them quell that internal violence. Merci pour vos pensées.

    – Rhoufi

  • Georgie Hart
    Georgie Hartabout 3 years ago

    I think you’ve captured and related the mood so well in this wonderful piece Rhoufi, there’s a real empathy between the two works. I didn’t notice at first that the same character appears in both pieces, but the fact that he doesn’t even change his hairstyle between images is a delightful detail. I hope the poor fellow isn’t forever doomed to see others in the light walking away from him. Marvellous.

  • Thank you Georgie, it really worked out so much better than I imagined. Three weeks wandering around Melbourne searching for “outsiderness” or “loneliness” is a rather grim pastime. I think I’d like a spell of “joy” hunting now ;-)))

    – Rhoufi

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