Ben Cope

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As a part of my artistic journey I study people. Daily I analyze the movement, speech and posture as well as reactions of those around me. As second nature I constantly find myself staring at the bone structure of people, the way skin lays across one’s ribs, the veins protruding from one’s arms, the jaw-line and cheek formation of one’s face. All these work together for me to understand the people I come into contact with and the fabrication of their lives and personalities. An observer if you will, observing to find my position to relate, or, possibly just to understand myself better.

In my observations some find their way into my life; allowing me to study a subject on a more in-depth level. This body of works represents exactly that. Living with my subject for a year I was able to document photographically on a daily basis every facet of her life and to watch her grow emotionally as well as to witness her failures; learning every step of the way all of the intricacies of her behavior and her mental disposition. These particular images come from one night during this time when I decided to stray from my normal documentary approach, and instead explored her physical structure.

I studied my attraction to the frail stature of her form, the ambiguity of her physical sexuality only given away by minor details. I directed my flash at raking angles to pull out her skeletal features, focusing on her bone structure, her body movements, her ability to contort her body. Under-processed Polaroid 665 gave the high contrast image I asked for under an overpowering flash. Giving only enough information to contour the lines of her ribs that her skin draped so delicately across. Here I studied her body and her movements, capturing the light and shadows across the form of her body in a way one’s eye could never.

Pulling the fixer across the face of the Polaroid, dragging the oxidized developer along with it, I unintentionally stained parts of some Polaroids, giving up a portion of this project to controlled chance, similarly done with the final product as well. I chose paraffin to mimic the texture of the fixer; asphaltum, the oxidized developer. In the end, each piece took on a different quality then that of its original, both of which couldn’t be recreated.

Deviating from the traditions of photography, I study myself and my relationship both to the camera and to the print; As I have just done with the body.