is like an assault, a mugging.'
That was a line of the text that accompanied Laurie Anderson's Fully Automated Nikon (Object/Objection/Objectivity) project at the Tate's Modern recent exhibition Street and Studio: An Urban History of Photography.
Anderson, in 1973, made an analogy how a photo - or rather: a camera stuck into someone's face - really does resemble an assault, when she got fed up with the chat she got off blokes on the streets of NYC. So, Fully Automated Nikon is the result of her asking for a photo, in response to any stupid/aggressive/annoying chat up. So, there's a series of guys, white guys, black guys, young guys, old guys, with other guys, with their girlfriends; and a couple of lines of how they responded to her assault of taking a photo.
It stuck - or rather linked up with a series of other things: notably, my hesitation to take pictures of strangers. Something my PhD examiner remarked on in response that photos labelled 'young skaters in the city centre' don't really have that many young skaters in them, similar 'builders during a break' requires the onlooker to look hard for the builders. LOL.
Now: a picture, a snapshot is really something done reasonably quick, inconspicious.
But, what on earth about a sketch, a portrait??
My parents fell victim in August to my determination of sketching people. And after my mum was mortified about my (admittedly poor) sketch, I deliberately did not try to sketch my brother when sketching him... so as almost on purpose not to produce any similarity.
Now, a long lead-in to this: stealing sketches of unsuspecting people. I still - and in fact probably before I stumbled across Anderson so wonderfully single-minded let's turn the table kind of take on mugging - think of taking something not offered by sketching strangers.
But: here are some takings: at the train station on the way to the sea a few weeks back; and this afternoon while waiting on an appointment.
The woman on the bench in profile found her way into my printmaking project: it needed some life drawing; and the outline worked reasonably well, it probably needs a bit more colour (how about a trusted orange); but the backdrawing - sketching on the back of the surface which lies on a thinly inked print plate - works well. It effectively produces an old-fashioned carbon copy of the sketch.