Artist Study: Sam Taylor Wood

My tutor suggested I look at the work of  Sam Taylor Wood especially the videos Sleeping and Still Life

I loaded up the Sleeping one first which portrayed a video of David Beckham sleeping. I sat there waiting for something to happen but soon realised that that was it. At first I thought, ‘What,’ I carried on watching trying to spot hidden depth of why this was so famous. I still continued trying to get my head around it. But I also started to see almost a juxtaposition. Wood has taken someone who is known for his strength on the football field, his tattoos and revealing photo shoots. This was a different revealing of the man, a look behind the scenes, to see the real man, calm and asleep with his soul stripped bare to the world. I suppose viewing this in a gallery, taking over the whole wall would make it feel like you were actually watching him there, oblivious to everything. It’s definitely strange but I guess that’s the thing about photography and art, it can be interpreted in however way the artist wishes. It gives such freedom to do what ever you want.

I next watched Still Life. This was similar but also completely different. A slow film of fruit. I started wondering whether that was it and there wasn’t going to be another frame. But suddenly a strange haze started appearing. It felt almost like watching magic, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. Then I realised it was mould covering the fruit, it started sinking slowly, watching the process of the fruit decay. It was a fascinating insight like the nature documentaries watching flowers uncurl and trees grow. There does seem to be something different about Wood’s work though. I suppose it feels like everything sort of slows down and you’re taken into the moment. You do feel like you’re actually watching it in life.

So why does she do this, is she trying to create something different or is she trying to see into the heart of everyone she photographs, stripping away the stereotype to show the true person which is famous perhaps because of the surprise, the juxtaposition and the sheer difference of what everyone thought.

I’m wondering how I would bring something like this in to my own work like my tutor suggests. Well I think the lighting plays a huge part, getting that right captures the emotion of the image. I’m not sure how the Beckham video was shot, I think by some gentle candle light or some diffused lamp. I think I will try and use something like this for when Leo is sleeping. Perhaps trying to capture a photo that almost feels like you’re watching something live.


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