They are appealing in their ambiguity: as revelatory as they are mysterious. These are the images from Myopic Visions, the latest series by Greg Vivash ARPS.
It is a conceptual work based on his experiences of growing up with high myopia – a form of very near-sightedness – and other eye disorders. Below, Vivash reveals the journey so far, and what he hoped to encapsulate within his fuzzy, enigmatic images.
When did you start work on this series?
I started the project in January 2022 and am finalising it as a book. I had been doing a lot of reading as part of an MA Photography degree at Falmouth University and a couple of books gave me some initial inspiration. Particularly the work of Uta Barth and Bill Jacobson referenced in the book Why It Does Not Have To Be In Focus by Jackie Higgins. Also, The Blind Photographer from Redstone Press. I thought, here is an opportunity to show the banality of life through visual impairment.
Are the images a literal representation of your own visual impairment, or more figurative?
The images are conceptual constructs of how I saw the world through my uncorrected vision, because of high myopia, astigmatism from a very young age, and additional eye traumas in my later years. Though I have benefitted to some extent in later life from surgery and contact lenses, I want to illustrate how growing up with these eye conditions, scenes and objects take on their own appearance.
I suppose I saw things in a painterly, dreamlike fashion. It is frustrating not to see clearly, but it takes on its own beauty. As a mature adult and photographer I wanted to reflect on that experience. There is a narrative I’m adding to the images for the book, because the project is also biographical.
How did you create the images?
Cynics would argue that anyone can take ‘out of focus’ images. I am an experimental photographer so nothing is off the table when working on a project. I’m from a commercial photography background so this work is almost the polar opposite to detailed and sharp product photography.
Techniques were employed such as shooting some images without lenses; using macro lenses wide open and defocused; soft lighting and a little postproduction of contrast and highlights. However, there is more involved in the process of subject matter selection.
Naturally, the objects or scenes had to have some relationship with my past, but in editing the final set of images decisions on shape, colour and tone were key to providing a balance of the aesthetic and the illustrative nature of the project.
How has your experience of high myopia influenced your relationship with photography and visual arts?
It has been frustrating at times. In my teenage years I had hoped to have a career in the photographic unit of the RAF but my sight wouldn’t get me past the medical. In my film days I did some darkroom work, but it became increasingly difficult.
Technological advances have aided my journey. Autofocusing systems and the digital revolution have helped immensely. I have always had an affinity with macro photography. I think that is because I have always had to hold things close to me to see clearly. So I guess photography has become an extension of my vision, quite literally.
What do you hope people will take away from your images?
The main objectives are for people to appreciate the inherent beauty in the banality of life and that visual impairment is not a barrier to being creative. I also hope people will want to see the book in its entirety to appreciate the narrative that accompanies it.
What have you enjoyed most about creating the series?
I’ve been very open in the book about my life with visual impairment and the challenges I have encountered along the way. I suppose the whole thing has been quite cathartic, but it has also been liberating and somewhat poignant to create images from memories.
All images from the series Myopic Visions by Greg Vivash ARPS