Caitlín Diston

Master of Photography

Contact student

NB. Views and opinions of students in the degree show are their own and do not represent the views of the University.

This project has produced a visual narrative of life under lockdown during 2020. It focused on a family home where most time has been spent and on the routes around the neighbourhood that were used for exercise. So, photographic images were created as a way of showing the contrasts between “inside” and “outside” and between “mundane” and “unusual”. This was intended to reveal the new normality and to show what can be valued as special.

The challenge of this work was to be creative in recording day-to-day circumstances at a time when they had become monotonous. It applied the principle of quiet observation and looked at the domestic setting from the viewpoint of an outsider. The aesthetic aim was to present internal spaces, devoid of people, where there was evidence of human activity and presence but where there was nothing happening “now”. Often, this was achieved by glimpsing through a half-open door, catching an area in shadow and focusing on close-up objects. This became a study somewhere between still life and still space.

Isolation was relaxed briefly for periods of exercise. The creative challenge was more difficult outdoors than indoors. It turned out to be very easy to take snapshots of houses, gardens, trees and roads, without conveying any feeling or impression. The best visual impact was to focus on detail, either close-up (on the only sunflower in the neighbourhood, for example) or wide-view (looking at a bigger scene with a distinguishing feature such as a lit-up room in a house at twilight). This was set against the mundane background of a residential area, devoid of people and traffic.

This project managed to reveal a sense of humanity in a deserted environment. It showed evidence of people without the people being present. Inside, the photography gave a new perception of “home” because it discovered special viewpoints that otherwise would have been overlooked or merely observed as a quick glance and then forgotten. Outside, it revealed a peaceful and quiet place. It identified special points of interest that otherwise would have been unseen, perhaps because they were ignored as people rushed by or simply because no-one was there to see them.

This was a serious attempt to draw out the “special” from the “mundane” and to offer images that attract the interest of viewers. It attempted to show scenes that were valuable in breaking the monotony of an isolated existence under exceptional circumstances.