The Solar Familiar: Fact and Fiction in Photography and Visual Anthropology

By Marcus G. J. Williams and Susan E. Jowsey.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

‘Solar Familiar’ takes the form of a ‘documentary’ project, which investigates the psychological, and physical difficulties of a family displaced from Earth who find themselves inhabitants in the unfamiliar; a family on the extremes of an increasingly displaced population; both historically and culturally. This is a family alienated from the memorized ... rootless, they flounder to resurrect cultural experience, however, without cultural boundaries to define their world the gulf that separates them from their own personal histories and their shared history, has created in them an incomprehension they struggle relentlessly to overcome as if one sense has failed and the other four cannot attune to the loss. The artistic process is collaborative; parents and children from an actual family produce documentation and recreation of an imagined experience, constituting an ethnographic inventory, which in turn forms the basis of a documentary film. The interweaving of the documentary idiom, associated with objectivity and veracity, with fantasy and the conceived space of art raises questions about the mediated nature of the cultural construct; family.

Keywords: Cross Disciplinary Art, Family, Collaboration, Visual Anthropology, Saged Photography

The International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp.205-214. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.540MB).

Marcus G. J. Williams

Senior Lecturer, School of Design, Unitec New Zealand, Auckland, New Zealand

Marcus Williams is an artist, curator and Senior Lecturer at Unitec, New Zealand. Marcus has a cross-disciplinary art practice working in a wide range of media with a strong emphasis in photography. He makes artist’s books, video’s, photographs and web based projects, often combining these strategies into ‘total installations’. He has an enduring interest in collaboration and has collaborated with a wide range of artists in NZ and in Europe. Marcus has exhibited throughout NZ and in Australia, UK, US, France, Italy, Austria, Estonia and Russia. His practice is primarily concerned with the uncertain dimension of human behaviour which lies somewhere between social and mediated experience. The process by which all that is biological or ‘natural’ (that wonderfully problematic word), is ‘processed and codified into a highly complex system of signs. Cross disciplinary practice is central to his teaching; working in a generic Art and Design Program he facilitates projects between photography, sculpture, theatre, dance and screen arts students and continues to develop an exploratory, visually cognitive, developmental drawing course which focuses on the semiotic function of photographs, objects and texts to provoke ideas in students from a range of creative disciplines.

Susan E. Jowsey

Artist, Lecturer, Independent Artist, Independent Artist, New Zealand

Susan Jowsey is a multimedia artist working with 3D objects, installation, moving image and photography. She lives in New Zealand but exhibits internationally. Her work is held in major collections throughout New Zealand. Susan’s work has a strong visual aesthetic, drawing predominantly on the abject and found objects of domestic origin. Jowsey assembles a liminal Braille, marks made “for the saviour of self”, she works with the presumption that we may all at some point lose either memory or identity or both. In this way her work is concerned with negotiating the lacework of memories contained within an object and often lost to the miasma of everyday existence. Jowsey only ever offers fragments to the viewer…tiny pieces skewed by personal longing, at best akin to markers each element struggling to form a readable whole, at worst incontrovertible proof of nothingness. Jowsey traces with her fingers a map of dislocation, in an exploration of identity, the fabric of habit, trace and breath and the clothes of the senses.


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