Final Major Project - T W I N M E N O T

T W I N  M E  N O T

This series Twin Me Not has won the Michael Wilson Award at London collage of communication and will be exhibited internationally at the Beyond The Camera photography festival in China. 

In this research I have been working on a project about self-identity without realization, and the notion of being a twin. These ideas have emerged from previous projects where I cloned and doubled myself in personal self-portraits. Looking back at these, I started to question what this meant, and analyze the fact that I often choose friends who look like me. The idea of having a twin is one, therefore, that I have often toyed with. In this project I wanted to realize that idea by photographing actual identical twins and juxtaposing these images with ones of myself.

This series Twin Me Not, features Evie and Nancy, both seven years old, and draws upon aspects of their relationship in carefully composed portraits. The photographs were taken over the last nine months (enough time to birth this project). These twins live close to where I do, and I had always wanted to photograph them, as they are captivating, and often seem to perform with one another in a duality that was intriguing to me. For example, they dress alike, finish each other’s sentences and their gestures are often synchronized. As I have been photographing them, this notion of the liminal has begun to inform my practice. This means that the girls teeter on the edge of childhood, and are beginning to be more aware of themselves and their identity as individual girls. According to Jennifer Eileen Quick the liminal stage is present within Dijkstra’s photographsThe theory of subjectivity represented in Dijkstra’s photographs therefore demonstrates a certain ambivalence that is descriptive of contemporary subjectivity. As such, Dijkstra’s photographs offer a fresh take on how we conceive of subjectivity today’ (Eileen Quick Abstract). The photographs I have taken are staged reconstructions of their twinhood, which work as a projection of my desire for a twin.  In some past or present civilizations, twins are even considered as gods... or as monsters. I wanted to photograph these twins in order to question also how our society considers what is amazing and surprising in general. In my series, twins represent everything that is not normal but however exists.

 Another occurring visual that also appears within my personal work is the idea of the abandoned as I was experimenting with this alongside my project. At first this connection was not clear but it seemed that it is a space I am in everyday as I am alone and without a twin. When taking current self-portraits for this project I wanted the role of wireless remote to be part of the images and play a part of my progress and be a physical interaction with the image making. The remote gives me the power to create my digital double. Gemma planco work is done in a similar way as where the remote plays the main part of the image.  When taking my self-portrait in the personal space of my bedroom I notice something very compelling. A personal photograph of myself a friend on my wall, we look so alike and could be perceived as twins. This made me think of how I socially put myself within girl groups that’s are visually alike to me. After cloning myself I then printed my image and replaced my social snap with my digitalized cloned photograph and then re took my portrait this is a symbolism of how I am obsessed with the idea of creating my very own twin.

 Filming Evie and Nancy was also part of my series progression. Techniques of stop frame animation allowed me to capture small details of their body language and gestures toward each other with the subject being natural as possible. This created a film strip of very small movements, then when converted to black and white enhanced this. I found the process of interviewing the twins almost as interesting as taking their pictures. As it gave me such an insight to such a different lifestyle and childhood of my own. I learnt that it’s wonderful, yet can be over powering being twins and how it affects friends and family. My finally images visually reveal how we are faced with feelings of fascination but also with skepticism. This series attempts to play with notions of identity as we ask ourselves the question “is that the same person twice?” This series is an intimate journal of their togetherness and as an alternative take on the complex issues that accompanies the notion of “girlhood and childhood” today. The photographs ask the viewer to question how we perceive the things that we can't understand, and have an insight to there special relationship. My aim with some of the images of the girls is to raise questions about our perception and the things we believe are real.

 My main visual influences are: A project titled American Girls by Ilona Szwarc, Maja Daniels portraits of Mady and Monette, Double faced by Sebastian Bieniek and Ariko Inaka images of twins Erna and Hrefna. All experimenting with the visual of the double and all on a creative journey to understand why are we so drawn to twins.  Maja Daniels writes ‘Being born as an identical twin often raise questions about identity and intimacy. Most people search for a life-partner to share their life with and a big part of our identity is built around this condition’ (Daniels). I even used online searching platforms in search for my twin called Twin Strangers.

 Doppelgangers have always influence my photographic practice and this project has answered my questions of why? Identity of myself, Lucan’s mirror stage. what we project to the world and what is mirrored back to us, so this whole project is defined by these fears and desires to be more than an individual, to have a twin that can project another self. Technological advances have allowed me to clone myself with ease, and to manipulate the image, and generate a digital twin. This is potentially the closest I will get to seeing my double.

 Creating a book for my final body of work seemed to be the best outcome to suit my work. By using the girls as fiction characters in a story telling style. Photographing the girls on many occasion I had endless amount of images and I wanted to show case that. The final prints are to support the book. This series is certainly not over as I hope to keep my bond with the girls and photograph at least once a year to capture their transitions and document their twin-hood as well as childhood and sisterhood. 

Rebecca SpencerComment