James Bullen, Bird Spotter

When I entered the end of my second year at Newport university I came across a series by James Bullen called Bird Spotter. This series was the first taste I really had in terms of contemporary strategies. I took a free publication of the work and kept it in my bookshelf at home. It was a precious document. The series impacted upon my initial thoughts on photography and it triggered something in me that made me push on the way I have as a photographer.

Coming across the limited online presence of James I am a bit sad to see only one photograph from what was an incredibly poignant series that wrested with the thought process of the photographer and every day matters. Working with the simply beautiful idea made anything possible. Particularly the pressure to photograph, dealing with life as a photographer, how it affects your view of the world. You cannot stop thinking about recording and understanding, evenwhen you are living in the present. Your always looking to make the past permanent. It formed a bridge between the contemporary aesthetic, subtle minds of the photographer, the process behind ideas and project making. And saying, what is photography, instead of blindly following it without question.

I feel somewhat sad that this is the only online artifact of the series, but it is also an interesting testament to a project that blew everything out the water - for me at least.

I hope he is still making pictures and if he isn't, I am happy he made this project. For it raised the bar, not just for me but for anyone around him at the time. It claimed first place without even trying.

'Working intuitively I found myself wandering. What I found were spaces that said and did very little and meant almost nothing to me. Knowing my interests in optics as a motif, I concentrated on location, setting and lighting to establish an area that I would work within.

My aim was to document a process of engagement between my surroundings, everything within this space. Using formalist reorganization I depended on geometry as my guide.

It was originally a joy of Jay spotting that produced the backbone to a project that became in the end, everything, and at the same time, nothing to do with, bird watching.

Working with photography I find myself overtly aware of my surroundings, I photograph because I feel pressure to do so. Perhaps all this succeeds to do is push me further into my questioning: Why take photographs? And further still: What in fact even is Photography?

This project attempts to force order on this chaos. Through the post-production ‘spotting’ of the images I attempt to order, group and cohere my images, visually and aesthetically making sense of what ever it is I am doing.' - James Bullen