Artist Statement

Through the love of photography I explore, investigate, develop, a finished series of works. This is where the viewer reflects with the medium - whether social or aesthetic - or that re-assesses historical themes and perspective, maybe inspired to find something 'new'.

Jackson D Ferguson - March' 2000

"From the first step, that of classification (we must surely classify, verify by samples, if we want to constitute a corpus), Photography evades us. The various distributions we impose upon it are in fact either empirical (Professionals / Amateurs), or rhetorical (Landscapes / Objects / Portraits / Nudes), or else aesthetic (Realism / Pictorialism), in any case external to the object, without relation to its essence, which can only be (if it exists at all) the New of which it has been the advent; for these classifications might very well be applied to other, older forms of representation. We might say that Photography is unclassifiable. Then I wondered what the source of this disorder might be.

Chapter 2 - "The Photograph Unclassifiable" from the book "Camera Lucida" by Roland Barthes

Rosegarden 1992

My first solo works after I had graduated from art school, I look towards exploring the techniques of collage with colour. Using icons of human figure, architecture and flowers I intuitively manipulated these images back onto colour slide photographic paper. The images are a combination of colour slides using a Mamiya 6cm x 7cm medium format camera with a wide angle 50mm lens. The place is represented by a pre-abstract development for my work, it is a series which I want to push layers of 'realism' into another world. The images start off 'authentic' but gradually through the layering of one on top of each other the final image moves towards more surreal 'effect'. Instead of the ease of computer digital manipulation today ('the dry system'), these images are originally manipulated with its traditional base of alchemistic photography ('the wet system') in the darkroom. 
The series explores the use of the self-portrait within a dreamlike garden using 'natural' and 'unnatural' metaphors. This is a place where I used to experience and understand the death of my father with the use of photography. This is a place of my subconscious, a day dream of when I was a young child and my father's love for the garden and the rose. A place which I call - 'Modern Ancient Time'. These works look towards the use of 'painting with light', my aspiration to be influenced with painting
. I feel that photography does not have to be traditionally factual, 'pure' and sharp but the antithesis of its own medium.

Lake Mungo 1994
With three other visual artist specialising in painting, graphics, mixed media, film & video, we travelled an expedition into Lake Mungo National Park. Lake Mungo is situated 140km North from Mildura, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. Known for its unusual geological erosion of the landscape and the archeological findings of Australia Aboriginal culture pre-dating 40,000 B.C. 
With its unusual landscape of sculptural lunettes the land is a metaphor for 'Layers of Time', exposing its spirituality with Australian Aboriginals existence; where a time where they would hunt & fish, to a place of tribal war & ceremonial burial. But this is also a place where white post colonial settlement came too, later to live and graze thus bringing pioneering animals into the environment. The tree on the right is not naturally shaped but only through ferial goats who eat the forage to a point where they can not reach, does the shrub becomes sculpturally pruned. It is also a place where Chinese slaves from costal ports like Sydney were sent out west to live on sheep stations and become shearers. Lake Mungo was a major sheep grazing settlement and from this the lunettes of Lake Mungo where named after the Chinese shearers for seeing them as the 'Walls of China'.
With the use of photography I wanted to transform these lunettes into a visual spiritual ambiguity making them look larger then what they are - 'a fractal of a grand canyon'. To me the lunettes speak in many tangents; history of different cultural civilizations, ecology, geology, anthropology and even mathematics, but also its moon like alienated planet of erosion - 'a thumb print of mother earth'.

The Black Series 1995-96
Post-Modern - a word to reflect the past in a unique statement for today. Where do we go after ‘the death of painting’, ‘the death of photography’ : inspired by artist like Jackson Pollock, Ad Reinhardt, Kasimir Malevich, Wassily Kandinsky.
Nudes 1996-97

For the past ten years I have focus a main part of my work on the use of the human form within photography. I suppose I was first influenced during my studies at art school. Through a series of black & white landscapes I gradually decided to place myself (a hand, a leg, a shoulder, a torso) within the frame of the camera. It was then through a third year critique with my lecturers that they agreed ' that the underpants should go'. From there I matured a graduating series for my fourth year with the use of the self-portrait nude in the landscape. Through this exploration of using the 'nude', the 'self-portrait' and the 'landscape' I gradually look towards a series within an internal environment. 
In 1996 I develop a series within a bathroom, exploring the male figure in associations of art history towards the male pose. I looked towards my references using metaphors of the 'pose' with Michelangelo; and the principles of analysis in photography with Roland Barthes
with also the use of the figure in reflection, abstraction & distortion with Marcel Duchamp's, 'Nude Descending a Staircase No.12', 1912. This integrated turning inspiration towards contemporary artists such in 'the male taboo & beauty' with Robert Mapplethorpe and the use of the young male body in photography - Bill Henson. Also I look towards artists who have concentrated there work towards historical and political statements on gender with the use of the female self-portrait within the pose, such in the context of Cindy Sherman and Julie Brown Rrap. The series reflects many different influences from other visual artists which have inspired me to look, view and investigate my own discourses with the use of 'masculinity' and the 'male nude'.
The Paris Series 1997-98
After my last piece in The Black Series - ‘Black Photograph No.2’ 1996, I looked towards travel and cultural identity in Europe - to experience a primordial western society. I wanted to be the spectator of the works of Niepce, Daguerre, Fox Talbot, Nadar, Kertesz, Cartier-Bresson, Man Ray and so on. But also to experience a 'new encounter' - to me Paris had always been the myth; the 'romance of urban landscape'. I wanted to break the rules within the nature of documentary and push these images towards spiritual expressionism - to find my own subjective meaning. As Roland Barthes would say in his book 'Camera Lucida'; to search for the Studium (to encounter the photographer's intentions) and to feel the Punctum ( "detail", i.e., a partial object) within the photograph. 
In the essence of extracting the images 'pure' - taken with a 35mm Nikon with standard 50mm lens with fine grain ISO 50 film I later transgressed these prints to digital. Most of the images have been left the way I originally printed, I wanted to view them as a source of digital documentary to Paris - only a few if you can pick them out have I felt needed to be more 'distorted', 'articulated'. Some are genuine co-incidence. In a picture of the Mona Lisa - here is a woman who is constantly photographed every minute entombed in a glass cabinet, it was only later that I looked at the print more closely that I noticed a visitor had spat onto the side of the glass. As much as Paris can be contemporary with modernity and its cultural past - to me this series is just a fragment, a chapter to the next time I photograph Paris once again. To me this series will never be finished, I suppose that's what draws me back knowing the inspiration will be there to capture further images, whether 'old' or 'new'.

Untitled 1998-99 (London)

Versailles 2000

Metropolis 2001- 02

Brave New World 2002- 03

Copyright © 2004 Jackson D Ferguson. All rights reserved.
Revised: April 01, 2004.