Ralph Waldo Emerson Research – Assignment 1

‘To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment’ – Ralph Waldo Emerson


Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882) was a critic of social pressures within society, he analysed society to try and promote individualism, instead of making people worry about how they were perceived by others. He has written many essays and presented many lectures about these social pressures, and the most rewarding response to them. Subjects that appear in his essays are as follows:

– Self Reliance

– Compensation

– Spiritual Laws

– Love

– Friendship

… etc, etc

I feel that researching into the work and the ideas of Ralph Waldo Emerson will give my work more direction, because its an educated opinion on society and individualism

On the subject of Isolation, Emerson will educate me with the way these people should be presented to either promote individualism or play with the negativity of society and force people to make a change. However, I prefer work that has a more uplifting side, especially work that makes someone think more about the issue through an artistic response – like the work of Tim Hetherington.

I don’t want my photography on isolation to seem fake; photographing someone isolated and asking them to smile is showing a truth of what they look like when they smile, but its also manipulating the situation, therefore not truly commenting on society. It could be seen that its false telling them to smile and me changing who they are to fit in, but by controlling these connotations it creates a punctum, showing that even though their alone, me breaking the ice by being friendly and asking questions before revealing the camera creates a smile, and its me recreating that for an image that makes it more truthful. I will take some images using these techniques and see whether they work, or whether the smile destroys the whole sentiment of the image.


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