The 'Ideal Family Album Kit'
Dissertation title: Family photography as ideology – investigate the tyranny to imitate set standards and the implications this poses on photographic veracity
A project exploring my dissertation subject. Photography has become a powerful medium used to convey the ideology of a family unit; advertising in particular, often associates a brand with a desirable, ideal way of living, so that when we buy the merchandise, we are essentially also buying into lifestyles and values, contributing to the construction of our identities through consumption.
‘Family’ holds a predetermined identity and whether or not we are consciously aware, our families are shaped to imitate these standards. I am particularly interested in family albums, as in eliminating certain photographs and organising the preferred, what remains is essentially a display of jubilant communal memories, masking out any discrepancies, ‘happy beginnings, happy middles and no endings’. A key focal area of mine is the ‘familial gaze’, a powerful gaze of familiarity that is adopted in most domestic photographs; as we pose, we assume particular masks and ideological frameworks. From looking back at my own personal family photographs I was surprised to see specific narratives and looks recurring; in adopting the familial gaze and selecting and ordering characters and happenings, families are essentially in the process of ‘making themselves’ but have we all inadvertently been creating the same images based on idealised imagery?
I have created an ‘Ideal family album kit’, which aims to ironically comment on the conventions of family photography. With the rise of social networking sites, people seem to have become more aware of the photographs that they share; it is almost as if they are battling to have the most idyllically portrayed lives. I have selected key commonplace narratives aided by my research and found them within my own family photograph collection; then tracing the figures in a stamp like fashion, I have created predisposed silhouettes that direct people on what images to display.
I chose to create a box to home the individual frames, as then it also serves as a kit that allows people to repeat packs (for multiple children for example). I used a neutral and sophisticated fabric and blind embossed ‘photo album’ into the spine, keeping it concise and to the point.
I hope that the blank anonymity of the silhouettes will stimulate relational connections with every viewer; revealing repetitions and unconscious optics that structure the lives of every family – this would prove my album successful in displaying ‘unfamiliar people in familiar poses’.