Response to Task 2 ‘Please select an image which you think illustrates whether it matter if a photograph is in focus?’ By James Greenhalgh

‘Second Beauty Composite’ – Nancy Burton (1982)

I believe that it doesn’t matter if an image is out of focus, as shown by the following piece. ‘Second Beauty Composite’ by Nancy Burton (1982) is a black and white, out of focus image of what appears to be an individual woman’s face. As this image is cropped tightly around their face with the person’s eyes staring at you, giving you no room to escape the frame and look for information in the background, the viewer starts to try and figure out who this person is. But upon further research this isn’t a person at all, this person has never existed. This is a combination of five actors from the 1980s (Jacqueline Bisset, Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, Brooke Shields & Meryl Streep) and through the technique of composite photography (which dates back to 1877 when eugenicist [A person who studies genetics], Francis Galton would expose photographic negatives of different faces into one composite portrait to try and find similarities between different groups of people from society, such as criminals) the identities of the actors have been merged into a face that one can imagine recognising in-person and yet never will be able to. The image being out of focus is a very important factor: if the image was razor-sharp with no blur between the negatives then the viewer would be able to see the layers and it would break the illusion that this was a real person.

– James Greenhalgh

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