Aliastair Thain – Imperial War Musuem North

“The pictures are simple objective human portraits that are intended to function as meditative works. My aim was to make the viewer think about the nature of conflict, mortality, and the preciousness of these young lives,”

In 2009 Alastair Thain was commissioned to take photographs of the Marines for the Imperial Warm Museum North. The series is an incredibly unique set of portraits in terms of their presentation, all 6 images were printed more than 5 meters high, back to back and exhibited in large glass frames outside the war museum. Shot close up, these are no perfect portraits, Thain took the Marines photographs as soon as they had finished a harsh training session. The method of immediately capturing the subject after an event creates a very dramatic aesthetic for-fulling Alastairs aim of wanting the viewer to become aware of the nature of conflict. Having the portraits printed at a large scale shocks the viewer, not only by the portrait but by the sheer size of it. The size of the images creates a dramatic response itself reflecting the subject in it making one massive impact on the people viewing it. I haven’t seen this series up close but i do agree that the use of presentation does change the way people look and read the photograph, personally i do think that having them printed so tall restricts the viewer of being able to look clearly into the Marines eyes or even the rest of their faces. I believe that creating eye contact between the subject and the viewer creates a much more stronger connection and would make a bigger impact than they do already. Within my project exhibiting my images is a key part to my portraits, i do want to print them large with a lot of detail similar to Thains series but i feel the connection would be stronger if i hung them the same height of an average person.


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