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  • Writer's pictureJo Sutherst

Sustainable Prospects – Shoot Mod4#2 – Responding to Bruce Nauman (Version 1)

In response to Nauman’s work ‘Studies for Holograms’, I set out to produce a shoot where I could consider the physicality of the human face and get my model to use his hands to manipulate and distort his face to the extreme.


Figure 1: Penny Arcade. 2017

My husband was yet again a willing model.  Using his hands, he was able to contort his mouth in many ways.  At times it seemed as though he was forming letters or emulating cartoon characters such as Wallace from Wallace and Gromit.  The process was incredibly amusing to observe and reminded me of games that I used to play as a child just seeing what faces I could pull using my hands.


Figure 2: Flickr. Fish Face. 2017

When responding to young children (or even teenagers in the secondary school where I work), as adults, we often over-exaggerate our expressions.  For example, I am often quite theatrical with my face during lessons.  I am able to look shocked or annoyed without having to actually feel those emotions.

Using his hands, my husband was able to over exaggerate expressions and contort his face.  I wanted to retain the identity of the model in this first set of images (in complete contrast to Nauman, who removed the top half of the face from the pictures).

In Nauman’s images, the faces seem to mock me and I feel uncomfortable when viewing them (previous blog link).  By including the whole face, the images take on a more humorous feel to them.  I am able to laugh at the images, as is my husband.  They do not have the sinister feel that I find Nauman’s work to have.

The resultant images have been edited in monochrome with increased clarity to enahnce the features of my husband’s face.  The additional texture really adds to the dramatic, performance feel of the shots. There are similarities between some of the images and this aids to show the flow and ease with which my husband contorted his face.  He likened the process to some of the facial shapes he produces when he has to shave off a beard!

Overall, the images present an amusing insight into how elastic our faces can be.  As a Design Technology teacher, the definition that I use in lessons for the elasticity of a material is ‘the ability of a material to deform when a force is applied to it and to return to its original size and shape when that force is removed.’ This is certainly true of my husband’s face, which luckily did return to normal after his fingers were no longer distorting it.

My next step is to explore how cropping these images will alter the viewer’s experience of them.


Figure 1: Penny Arcade. (2017). Penny Arcade – Comic – Fine Distinctions. [online] Available at: [Accessed 16 Sep. 2017].

Figure 2: Flickr. (2017). fish face. [online] Available at: [Accessed 16 Sep. 2017].

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