by Robin Cowings
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About the Book
Firstly, they are personal and are an attempt to look back on my childhood and my own children's future. They explore the anxieties and uncertainties that every parent feels about their children's safety in this world. Secondly, they are about photography itself. In this brave new digital world where the photograph is proliferate; where surveillance is accepted as a form of state protection; where it has never been easier for the stalker to covertly photograph; where the photograph and peoples (lack of) trust in the photographer is never too far from the publics mind and the attention of the news media. My images are taken on a variety of mobile phones and employ old street photography techniques. They reference Robert Franks "New York Bus" series of images from 1958.
"Each image is caught in passing, a chance arrangement of figures that appears for a moment in front of Frank's camera before the bus moves on. They suggest a decision to abandon overall control of the image, putting himself at the mercy of circumstances".
Robert Frank: Storylines Philip Brookman (ed) Tate Publishing 2004
My images have a distinctly different aesthetic. They are taken on a mobile phone using its low quality digital camera facility. They are indistinct and often obscure the identity of the subjects through blur and pixellation. Taken from a moving car window, they possess the same elements of chance as Franks images, but carry a darker, more sinister tone. They look like stills from surveillance camera footage. Why are these Lollipop men and women being photographed? These symbols of protection and child safety have been subverted visually by the style of image capture.
Robin Cowings, 2011.
A freelance photographer for over 30 years; and a photography lecturer for almost the same. Currently course leader for HND Photography at City of Sunderland College. Much of my personal work over the past 13 years has a connecting thread running through it all to do with fatherhood and my own childhood.