Veering between artistic endeavour and pseudo-scientific enquiry (whilst making no claims in either field), Dog Photographs is a critique of the creative process.
The work is located at the moment of photographic capture, in this case subcontracted out to the domestic dog, Canis familiaris. To facilitate this event a dog proof mobile studio is set up on a local dog walking route. Passing dogs are invited to participate. Some approach the job with enthusiasm, others are far too excitable. Some just want to chew their stick. A survey of sorts.
Requiring a photographic strategy to best capture the occasion, we look to the typologists: frontal viewpoint, consistent lighting, minimal editing. Objective. Impartial. Deadpan. An approach intended to emphasise photography’s analytical capabilities and provide clear unhampered access to the subject. The backdrop isolates the action but leaves crucial details: the stray hand, the muddy paw prints, the scattered dirt. Photographic evidence. But of what?
Seeking to locate the work in artistic terms, Dog Photographs finds a place somewhere between Muybridge’s studies of animal locomotion and Wegman’s Weimeraners, by way of Coolidge’s 'Dogs Playing Poker'. In contrast to the latter (and in common with the former), dogs are encouraged to be dogs. Wild, bestial, unpredictable.
The central apparatus of this enquiry (a pneumatic shutter release cable) allows the camera to be triggered remotely and in a moment of synchronicity, the act of being a dog triggers the act of photography. A task our subjects undertake with good natured indifference.
When interest in the project has waned, dog and owner continue on their way.