I am currently working on a college brief that deals with style. It’s funny how almost within seconds of researching what style is my preconceptions of this topic were completely blown away. Being a visual species it is easy to assume that style is based on some sort of aesthetic, how things look and are placed together. This (within an artistic context at least) is not the case. As far as I can figure -and I am still in the process of breaking style down- style seems to be more about personality, opinion and message than the look.

If we think about style within clothing an instant aesthetic is projected into our minds, along with the link to some sort of social group. Emo, punk, sceney, mods, rockers, electrotripers or what ever is cool these days. This places that “individual” within particular demographic within all the other demographics they belong to; age, class, gender etc. So when we think of style within a group we actually see, in my opinion, the lack of style. Style is an individuality, something that sets us apart from the rest and it cannot be achieved by jumping on the back of whatever is hip at that current time and replicating it.

Style as a photographer is an incredibly difficult thing to determine and therefore to create your own will require endless exploration and discovery. To help me along this path I have begun to look at things I had previously dismissed. I believe that by looking at and attempting many different types of genres and creative processes we may begin to see a style emerging.

One of area’s I have been looking into is recontextualising existing imagery. An artist who looked at this area is Zbigniew Libera a Polish national known for his controversial creations, including “Lego Concentration Camp”. The work I came across is a photographic piece called Positives in which he takes existing iconic negative images and shoots them in a positive manner.

Positives

Positives

Understandably this image alone will cause many to have a mixture of feelings. My first though on seeing it was “this is wrong”, after a little research I discovered that, in fact, I was wrong. The reason behind this series is due to the fact that images such as the original, in question (featuring Kim Phuc) are so common place and so familiar within our memories they have begun to lose the initial impact they once had. In a world where almost anything can be viewed via the Internet, the shock and therefore the importance of images like this one are lost.

Libera, by reversing the original image, has created a regressed thought process that requires us to look back at the original and remove our desensitised view and remember that this is not just a picture we have seen hundreds of times, it is a horrific scene of violence and inhumanity.

So not only is Libera making creating an emotive response to his imagery, he is creating valid interest through controversy.