Hi ___, how are you? This is a Little random.
My final photobook was created in Adobe InDesign, with the custom measurements of 17cm height and 12.3cm width. This size is slightly smaller than A5 as I aimed for the book to resemble the size of some form of digital tablet, large mobile phone or portable online device as a physical acknowledgement to the online aspect to my project. I experimentally made an InDesign document that was the measurements dimensions of an iPhone. However, this custom size was much too small and non-functional. The images were tiny and the text on the Instagram screenshots unreadable.
The completed and final photobook is entitled - Hi ___, how are you? This is a little random. The reasoning for this title being that I took the very first message sent to each potential sitter as it was the very first initial interaction I shared with them all. Whether they decided to be involved in the project or not. I moved away from my first working title of #gay as it felt reductive and sounded like a joke title. It didn't do the work the social and conceptual justice it deserved by choosing such an obvious title and easy title.
The complete custom sized digitally created book was printed on Munken Polar Rough (100gsm), with a Poppy Red end cover insert (150gsm) and completed with a cover of Munken Rough Card (300 gsm). The poppy red insert was an idea that came to me very last minute to subliminally allude to the the red notification associated with online social media websites and apps such as Instagram which was the social media platform used to seek my potential sitter online through the hashtag - #gay.
The entirety of the project was shot on either 35mm film using a Pentax K1000 or 120mm film using a Mamiya C220. This was a conscious decision made in order to move away from the modern digital era of instant results and the instant gratification of the social media post culture. With this aesthetic direction and use of film camera equipment, I was basically withholding the photographs from the sitters (and myself) meaning neither of us were able to see the results of our collaboration until the film had been processed, developed and scanned. Thus, pushing the sitters out of their comfort zone and forcing them to trust me during our shoots as they were unable to see the photographs as they were being taken in the same way a digital SLR allows.
Hi ___, how are you? This is a little random. consists of six portraits surrounded by the empty portraits on the other pages symbolising the refusal or absence of the other homosexual men I approached about their possible inclusion. The idea of the empty portrait was a development inspired by looked at A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters I – XVIII 2011 exhibition of Taryn Simons. Simons within the project photographed bloodlines and would represent the absence of a sitter within the bloodline with the inclusion of a plain wall to represent an empty portrait.
"The empty portraits represent living members of a bloodline who could not be photographed. The reasons for these absences are included in the text panels and include imprisonment, military service, dengue fever and women not granted permission to be photographed for religious and social reasons". - Taryn Simons, n.d.
By using the screenshots of the private messages I received from potential sitters I'm performing a form of appropriation by taking the replies and using them within the book even if the person said they didn't want to be photographed. However, to protect peoples privacy I removed Instagram usernames and their real names in order to make the messages anonymous and therefore protecting their anonymity as they wished to not be directly linked or involved with the project. The resulting photobook produced is a social analysis into modern online gay culture exploring and depicting how homosexuals interact (or not) with others online. Dissecting the argument of authentic self verses the online persona, are they separate or merely two sides to the same coin? Is it possible to be truly authentic on social media?
Taryn Simons Website: www.tarynsimon.com
Model Instagram: @ethan_johnson