James Russell Cant

In my tutor’s feedback to Assignment 4, she advised me to look at James Russell Cant’s oevre  Divided to the Ocean, 2009. The images are about migration to England. One of the images features Cant’s own father and they are palimpsests. I had no idea what palimpsests were so quickly googled it. According to the Chicago School of Media Theory a palimpsest is a “multi-layered record.” Cant’s images consist of twenty four composites.

“A cumulative palimpsest is one in which the successive episodes of deposition, or layers of activity, remain superimposed one upon the other without loss of evidence, but are so re-worked and mixed together that it is difficult or impossible to separate them out into their original constituents.”

The Chicago School of Media Theory

I find the images rather surreal. At first glance without reading the initial text, the photos appear quite blurry, rather like having one’s tripod being buffeted about on a windy day. But on second glance there is no wind as evidenced by the unswept locks of the ladies photographed. For me the composite effect makes the subject look as if he/she is moving out of the water onto land, but their stances are clearly static so there is this strange ambiguity enveloping the subjects – a binary of fluidity/static. This technique works well as a metaphor for tide and time.

Reference List

James Russell Cant Divided to the Ocean, 2009 [online] Available at: http://www.jamesrussellcant.com/ [Accessed 16 July, 2017]

Palimpsest [online] The Chicago School of Media Theory. Available at: https://lucian.uchicago.edu/blogs/mediatheory/keywords/palimpsest/ [Accessed 16 July, 2017]

 

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