Use your senses - Chinese Whispers

Flashback Wednesday!

The jewellery Image

Among the visual catalogue of jewellery images available in the commercial field, a subconscious and often detached relationship is established between the representational image and that of the viewer or consumer. By considering the affective properties of craft-as-image. The Jewellery Image looks at the continual replication and accessibility of the jewellery image once published. The intension is to reject the ‘functional’ portrayal of photography that is distinctive in jewellery promotion, but instead use alternative presentational methods in the form of audio recordings to depict a personal anecdote or aspect of the making process that is not evident in the replication of commercial photography. 


The material for this investigation was gathered by requesting the participation of a select number of contemporary jewellers. These were drawn from jewellers exhibiting in various London galleries through the months of July and August 2011. Each jeweller was asked to submit an image of their work in digital format, plus a written text of between 10–500 words. The call for submissions was designed to gain a collection of stories in association with the image provided by the jeweller. It aimed to provide a personal insight into the design, making, wearing or documentation process experienced by the jeweller in relation to the photographed object. 


This project explores the narratives embedded in the craft image, with the intention of humanizing the mass-produced imagery that is increasingly evident in the crafts. The subjective descriptions offered by Vicki Amberee-Smith in response to her client’s brief, for example, contrast with the single word lines submitted by Lisa Walker to accompany her work. 


This reveals aspects of the jeweller’s approach to making and their creative styles, to which my own choice of presentational method is added with the aim of engaging or influencing the viewer’s interpretation of these 

descriptions. The audio stream is presented to the viewer in the gallery space without any accompanying visual information and aims to present the jeweller’s text not only in an alternative format but also as a means by which to reinterpret the narrative. This was done by using the skills of a voiceover artist adopting a range of vocal styles and accents, alongside a selection of volunteers from alternative professions. This device is intended to introduce a new layer of meaning and additional characteristics to the submitted text, thus establishing a narrative trail from the original image, through the description submitted by the jeweller, to it’s display. Each step provides an alternative interpretation that is symbolic of the varying attitudes, opinions and conclusions applied to a mass-produced image as it circulates in the public sphere. 


The style and delivery of the audio recording provides a different interpretation of the original text, influencing how its content may be perceived and becomes a game of Chinese Whispers. For example the professional, melodic tones of a voice over artist may project a very different meaning to the soft hesitations of a friend cajoled into helping me with my work. The consequence is left open-ended; it is for the viewer to experience and to project their own visualization of the original image on to the wall space, which is lit and deliberately left bare.