photographic index

ba digital photography london south bank university

MJ Gumayagay


Title: …
Artist: MJ Gumayagay
Type: Inkjet photographic print
Date: 2007
Description: …, London. Completed May 2007. Made in response to Anita Corbin’s photographic series ‘Visible Girls’, Girls Subcultures box held at the London South Bank University, London. A series of 3 images.
Subject: …, subcultures
Measurements: …x…
Location: London South Bank University Digital Photography Dept
ID Number: PI-RGSB-MJ0001-MJ003
Licensing: Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 UK: England & Wales, MJ Gumayagay c/o London South Bank University, Digital Photography Course, UK

For photographic index we learned about Sub-cultures, we were asked what sub cultures are? The as a class group, we then came up with many ideas of the sub-cultures we could think of for example nerds, bikers and dancers. We were then put into groups or pairs and assigned or choose a specific sub-culture, which we then had to research up on our assigned subject. I and my partner in this exercise choose to do the sub-culture ‘Street dancing’ which is quite a young type of dance discipline compared with ballet or tape dance. ‘Street dance’ is the dancing you see in music videos today and even has its own definition “Umbrella term, similar to vernacular dance. Used to describe dance styles that evolved outside of dance studio’s at more everyday spaces such as streets, school yards and night clubs. There often improvisational and social nature encouraging interaction and contact with the spectators and the other dancers…” Street dance also has a sister type of dance which is break-dance.

While this was done at the beginning of the semester we were also researching up on sub-cultures, what exactly they are and any works done on this genre. Doing this we came across the work of ‘Anita Corbin’ who made an archive of images of sub-cultures which was called ‘Visible girls’. It was created by Anita Corbin in 1981. She took photograph of the sub-cultures at the time, which are sub-cultures today. The title is ‘Visible girls’ because Anita Corbin only took image of females for her photographic archive. We then digitised the audio and the images for the internet, while in the process of this which took quite a while. Anita Corbin came into London South Bank University to talk to us about her archive to explain why she set it out as it is. With Anita Corbin coming in we also planed before hand that we were going to shoot a new version of her archive on youth sub-culture. We stuck to our assigned sub-culture for the photo shoot with Anita Corbin, the images that we ended up with were put along side Anita Corbin’s work that we the students digitised for the internet.

We then had to think of a sub-culture for our own projects that we had to recreate or make a similar interpretation of Anita Corbin’s archive of work. I carried on with the sub-culture of ‘street dance’ because a couple of years ago I was into this sub-culture and knew quite a lot about it.

Street dance for the people who do it, for them it isn’t a hobby but a way of life. The people actually live Street dance, you practice where ever and when ever you can. If you hear a musical beat your body will automatically start moving or dancing naturally and unconsciously as it says in the definition it could be done in the streets, school yards and night clubs. Street dance is a youth culture because its mainly 14 – 25 year olds with this life style, they like to entertain, enter competitions and do performances for shows. So in a way it is a living for them because if their good enough, can win prizes. It’s a 24/7 dedication which also changes the person’s personality for the better and make you more confident.

You can also link my work to Anita Corbin’s because it’s on youth culture but only based on one youth culture, compared to Anita Corbin which are showing multiple sub-cultures. I interpreted Anita Corbin’s archive, so I didn’t copy the style of how she shot the images. I have four images of one sub-culture showing different views of street dance and the life style it consist of. Unlike Anita Corbin’s work which was only of females which was possible for me to copy, I changed this view because dancing in general is unisex and wanted to get this point across in my images. I also shot the images in groups of people instead of pair like Anita Corbin, this is because I wanted the capture the moment or atmosphere and not posed for the camera unlike Anita Corbin’s ‘Visible Girls’.

With this youth culture which is influenced by the music which can be read from A. Bennett – Popular Music and Youth Culture article. A. Bennett took a view from Thornton who suggested that sub-cultures, rather than originating purely at the level of the social, are largely constructed through the representational power of the media. As this sub-culture has done (street dance / Break dance) which Bennett also points out the young people take the cultural resources provided by the popular culture industries and use the prescribed meaning attached to such resources as templates around which to construct their own forms of meaning and authenticity.

I shot these images spontaneously at the time to capture those certain moments where everything is all natural. I then used Photoshop CS2 for colour correction also to make the colours, shadows and highlights more vibrant which could stand for the connotation of how exocentric street dancers are. My four images where then printed at University on an A2 printer. Out of all the hundreds and hundreds of images I caught, I only choose these four images because they also tells a story of the actual life style of street dance. Practicing at home, practicing by your self in a large space, practicing in a hall with everyone and finally performing at the show or competition. It has a narrative this way but you could also look at the images in a single view, apart from each other.

Over all the images that I have produced for sub-cultures came out well but would of liked to use quiet a few more photographs of this sub-culture, to show the atmosphere around this street dance culture because there is a lot to know and see about this youth culture. I was however a little displeased bout the fact that I did not have control of how the end product turned out because I would of made a couple of adjustments.

• Bennett, A. (2000) popular music and Youth Culture: Music, identity and place, London, Macmillan. (Chap 1 sociology of youth culture pp 17-33)

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