Within the Mind and Emotions

3 min read by Rob James Davie. Published in Essays, Stories.

Note from the editor.

Below are Robert’s three selected photographs from Yorkshire Museum of Farming. They are all shot on black-and-white, medium-format film.

Rob’s motivation while approaching his subject is philosophical. His prime interest is the emotions that arise in the photographer’s and the viewers’ minds.

Angles.

“Angles” - shot on Ilford FP4+ with Mamiya RB67 and 90mm Sekor lens.

I call this one “Angles”.

In its physical existence, the object photographed is a tractor sitting in a shed at the Yorkshire Museum of Farming near York, UK.

That might sound like an odd way to describe a photograph but it makes sense if you think about it for a second. The photograph is not the tractor. A photograph is not the thing it depicts. A photograph is a piece of art created by sifting physical reality through the creative tendencies of a human being and some amount of physical process depending on the medium. The question of whether photography is art will last forever. My own opinion is “it can be”. Much as paint can become art, a blank film in a camera can become art.

Coming back to this particular photograph, the information that it is showing, a piece of farm machinery from a particular angle is completely unimportant and frankly uninteresting. I choose to see it as representative of the fractured nature of reality based on perception and angle of view. One of my favourite quotes from “The Matrix” is “Eventually you come to realise that it is not the spoon that bends, it is yourself.” We create our own reality by will or by accident and my reality naturally influences how I interpret art and how I form my own photographs.

Levers.

“Levers” – shot on Ilford FP4+ with Mamiya RB67 and 90mm Sekor lens.

Our farming heritage is important. Without the move from Hunter-Gatherer to Farmer, we would not have society as it exists today. Whilst some could argue that would be a good thing, it would certainly be a very different world. One of the next great leaps forward was the mechanisation of farming. Levers played a major part in the control of this process, and indeed levers are a wonderful metaphor for the transition of our species away from the earth and towards their own destiny. Truly Humankind generally believes that they are separate from the earth and able to exist without considering it. Workers of the land know differently, our future and that of the land are inextricably joined and levers that act upon it also act upon ourselves.

Bars.

“Bars” – shot on Ilford FP4+ with Mamiya RB67 and 90mm Sekor lens.

Life places many bars in our way. We butt up against them and they leave their marks from the pressure in our flesh. Some of those bars are rusted and pitted. They cut and pierce us and leave scars that will last a lifetime.

When making this photograph I felt hemmed in, short of breath and fearful. I could almost taste the rusted iron and sense the sharp edges of rust with the hairs on my arms. It draws me in and imprisons me within my own creation.