Trials and Tribulations

There can be a long winded process to the surreal artwork I create. I discovered that sometimes the best way to progress is just to start and do something - whether it is deconstructing visuals that stimulate the mind, listening to entrancing tunes, drawing whatever seeps out of the mind, reading and writing words that spark further thought and ideas, or my favourite, to simply play with light on a subject and then capture it on camera.

juan.twisted.anthony-af-jones

By experimenting and photographing a subject, I may not capture my ultimate result, although there becomes forward development towards a further achievement to transform the work. As difficult as it is for a “perfectionist”, I have discovered that it is okay to fail and make mistakes in order to progress to better skills as a complicated artist. Without experimenting and failing at its best, I would not have come to the body of work I have produced to this day. 

alex-sculpture-anthony-af-jones

We require time to think and reflect upon the production. What could be enhanced to further emphasise the meaning and messages I wish to get across to my audience? Does the image represent what I originally set out to achieve overall? How can I reconfigure the pieces of this visual puzzles into something that solidifies the focus on my body of work? 

mirror-anthony-af-jones

The photography studio became a space in its own, another dimension where I could recreate and express how I feel about the masculine body and how my perception can reveal so much more intricacies. Through trials and tribulations, I challenge how I view an image from my own personal perspective. I will continue pushing the boundaries of how an image is produced to reach its full potential as a constructed portrait and as a symbolic piece of art.

Free to be Me

This month I have been confronted by topics questioning what is it that represents an individual or what makes a person unique. As a reserved and confused teenager, I found myself focusing so much on discovering what it is to fit in to a category of normal or ordinary. It only took me until recent years to begin to comprehend how important it is to appreciate who I am as an individual. I visually represent my 16 year old lifestyle in a self-portrait in 2009, challenging the idea of how I may be categorized at work, school or socially.  

self-portrait-2009-anthony-af-jones

What makes me any different to any other person casually working, studying and socialising? I was on a mission to investigate and document the self much further. After studying within photography and personal training I initially thought I would leave with the same skills and experience as everyone else. I have later understood that embracing what is unique is what distinguishes my work, values, life perception, approach, goals, beliefs and ultimately what is success to me. Producing my Greek sculptural appropriation series of Reconstructions was a turning point to become more comfortable with my physical imperfections.

reconstructions-banner-anthony-af-jones

Baring it all for the camera, comparing and contrasting male figures from various backgrounds and cultures, body types and lifestyles made me acknowledge the magnificence of all forms in fitness. Ultimately, it provided me with the acceptance of my own individually. My feeling for the body in the form of fitness is not purely visual; it is also connected with a personal state of mind and the perception of how it matches with the individual. Blending these two passions of mine in art and fitness allows me to work between each and challenge my creative ability in a direction that best reflects me. 

body-comparison-anthony-af-jones

Life for me as a self portrait artist has become all about finding myself coincidently it just happens to be documented and expressed visually in my highly personal photography and video projects. My adventure of discovering and unravelling myself along the way is what keeps me motivated and progressing further.

Closed Chapters

In December 2014 I graduated from my Degree in Photography at RMIT University with a tremendous array of experiences behind me. I moved to the most liveable city in the world (Melbourne) to study my dream degree and prove myself. It suddenly escalated to me meeting the most incredibly supportive people in my life, adventuring overseas and living other cultures, dramatically changing my physical fitness and drastically improving on my skills and knowledge in photography and art.

anthony-af-jones-graduation

One simple consideration that I found that led to my success in my first 3 years in Melbourne stemmed from this balance. To learn, love, adventure and be self-aware and respectful to yourself and others. Being in a creative community and getting involved in other projects and events from all walks of life opened my eyes to see unique approaches to tackle productions.

anthony-af-jones-studio-fun

A part from building on my technically practical and theoretical skills, it was also significant to have fun and find ways to push the boundaries through the strenuous work with a positive outcome. Along the way I built tremendous networks and worked amongst some of the futures finest upcoming artists and even had the opportunity to have my first solo exhibition Transformations. I am driven by exploring the self and expressing through visual mediums from another perspective. The year of 2015 gave me the realisation of being an artist.

anthony-af-jones-exhibition-preparation

If I could give any advice: Throw yourself in the deep in, even if it is unfamiliar territory. It was the best way for me to learn, develop and discover myself and the world around me. Upon completing this photography degree and everything that went with it, I now live in happiness…which happened to be my unfamiliar territory before taking the big leap of faith into the new world I now live in.  

Eurotrip 2013

Before I began my Bachelor of Arts Photography degree at RMIT University, I never would have imagined I would be travelling overseas for my first time. Of course in this day and age we may tend to build our perceptions of what the world is based upon from media communication and discourse with friends and family. We then may stereotype which assists us in recognising or labelling various cultures. In the European summer of 2013, my close university friends and I experienced a spontaneous adventure for several weeks. 

Montmartre, Paris, 2013

Montmartre, Paris, 2013

I began to open my eyes and discover various cultures, food, lifestyles, and a diverse range of people which made me more open and accepting of the world I live in. Ironically enough, I found myself photographing and recreating the urban and rural landscapes in the way I stereotypically imagined it. To simply say I was focusing on the decisive moments.

Untitled Self Portrait, 2013.

Untitled Self Portrait, 2013.

At the age of 20 and being the first to experience this amount of exotic travel, it led me to consider my position in life and the extent of future possibilities. It was important for me to have my time alone to soak up my distant surroundings. From these moments in my own company, I learnt in many forms the significance of taking care of the body and mind of the self. The outcome was a collection of dazed experimental representations of these moments alone in constructed composites of myself. 

Handstands Around Europe, 2013.

Handstands Around Europe, 2013.

By the end of our journey in various deeply historical countries in Europe, I built up a bank of photos doing something I enjoy doing most hand-standing. I took my love of fitness and this concentration in balance through my creative nature and produced a collage. For me this collage coming back from Europe signifies a turning point for me within fitness after such an incredibly life changing journey. I continue to transform and see not only fitness and photography, but the WORLD through another perspective. You never know where life can take you.

Driven by Passion

For me the year of 2012 meant freedom, independence and a fresh start. I took my savings and built up emotions to a box apartment in Melbourne city. Although this box was small and lacked privacy, it did not bother me for the next three years while studying my RMIT University photography degree within very close distance. I took my creative thoughts inside and outside this box I called home.

Kitchen Chaos, 2012.

Kitchen Chaos, 2012.

This fresh adventure allowed me to begin physically transforming where I joined the gym to build upon my fitness after a physically restricted gap year. I found learning and building a routine within fitness pushed me to creatively construct my photographic ideas into solid projects. Throughout my studies I continued to build upon my skills and techniques. In my first year I was able to put this into practice with a constructed portrait of a great friend juggling while cooking in the kitchen. Essentially portraying the kitchen chaos through another perspective. 

Pink Cliffs Memory, Heathcote, 2012.

Pink Cliffs Memory, Heathcote, 2012.

Time led me to the desire to escape not only my home but ultimately the concrete walls of the city. As I grew up in rural surroundings, it was only natural of me to breathe outside the big smoke. This took me to capture landscapes that were recreating my memories as a child. I rediscovered locations like Pink Cliffs in Heathcote which is such an intriguing natural playground for a youth. 

Untitled, Self Portrait, 2012.

Untitled, Self Portrait, 2012.

By the end of the year it was only logical to reflect upon my first year of university and the self. I continued to document the self with an experimental approach to layering, lighting and colour. The year of 2012 was a test of my potential within photography and the arts to meet the creative brief with suitable concepts. I learnt the importance of the nerves and excitement of diving in the deep end. Surrounding oneself in their passion motivates and drives one to push through all ongoing obstacles.

The Atypical Gap Year

Before I began my degree of BA Photography at RMIT University, before moving from country Victoria to the most liveable city of Melbourne. The year of 2011 was quite significant to my development of the self and my greater understanding of photography from a highly private perspective. I photographed minimally, unaware of the entirely new creative journey on the other side of the year. 

External Strength, 2011.

External Strength, 2011.

Imagine YOU are in your gap year. Instead of traveling and exploring, you constantly work to save money towards moving and studying your dream degree in photography. Amongst this chaos your doctor does not expect to be treating an 18 year old for an ongoing undetermined heart problem. Through sacrificing the social life, being physically and emotionally exhausted, struggling to find support and feeling alone, you persist, knowing a creative escape and personal evolution is awaiting.

Pyalong Bend, 2011.

Pyalong Bend, 2011.

Throughout the year of frustrations, I sought ways of de-stressing from my imbalance of the physical, mental and emotional state of mind. I did not feel capable of building upon my strength in fitness as originally planned after high school. I found walking was an escape, frequently adventuring beyond the walk to and from my two jobs. The natural environmental atmosphere became quite important to me. I found peace and tranquillity discovering new locations and chasing the sunset to continue capturing the world around me. 

Near Death, 2011.

Near Death, 2011.

I took an interest to small and insignificant life of my simple home garden. Like that of Near Death above, I felt trapped and insignificant. I later drew connections to this image towards my Gefangen art series (2014). I learnt a lot about sticking it out for the greater good when you have a passionate goal to achieve. I proved to be determined to transform. I was not doing it for anyone else but myself.

Where it all began

Let’s wander back in time to 2008. I was always in reach of photography, growing up with various film cameras, Polaroids, SLR’s and a late 2004 compact digital camera gifted to me by my parents. Although, high school in 2008 brought me to continue concentrating on my studies of photography from this background knowledge. I spent my lunch times in the darkrooms experimenting within black & white film printing. I soon discovered my dedication for this technical and creative discipline in photography. 

Imagine this – having an exhausting yet successful day developing and printing in the darkroom, then walking home from high school on a bright and vibrant spring day realising not only a love and passion of photography but also the desire to transform and create a future career in photography. I wanted to live a life of photography from another perspective. Keep in mind, I was quite a unique and quiet 15 year old at this time. 

As a teenage photographer I found myself focusing on how I saw myself within my environment. This emphasis became my way of documenting my home region which reflected upon my lifestyle. What developed into something more significant to me was capturing the physical growth of myself. The motivation towards this way of thinking came from the feeling of not knowing what I was like at a younger age once older. The image below was taken in one shot which in turn marks my first self-portrait. 

Little did I know, the perspective I would end up representing my work stems from the self. Within the following two years of high school I subconsciously worked around creating art from a personal perspective, drawing upon the self-perception of the body within health and fitness. Another personal chapter and adventure beyond high school was awaiting me.