Wendy McMurdo works with traditional photography and computer technology to produce pictures of children who seem slightly ‘out of this world’. Her images exist somewhere between fact and fiction. Like the work of American documentary photographer, Helen Levitt, these photographs represent moments of play or reverie where the children are isolated from the world of grown-ups. But they are not simply the documentation of a child’s world. Many have the formal look of a dramatic set piece and hark back to historical portrait painting conventions. In addition, McMurdo uses digital techniques to manipulate the image, deliberately removing or emphasising certain elements to undermine the apparent objectivity of the photographic image and to highlight the subject.
Image from here.
This series is interesting because it implies that the children while physically present are mentally somewhere else, no longer aware of either their surroundings or any viewer. This moment of rapture has echoes in a past when, in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, children were believed to be innocents, closest to God and heaven. But it also relates to recent popular culture which links children and young people to unexplained events or ‘paranormal’ behavior and strange beings – from poltergeists to aliens.
The children in McMurdo’s images are often so wrapped up in their own activities that they seem removed from the rest of us. McMurdo enhances this feeling by removing or cloning elements of the scene making it seem weird or uncanny.
Image from here.
Though I do not like how old and grainy looking her photographs are I appreciate the message she is trying to get across, that children in play or when they are learning are reserved, they are away from the adult world. The children in the photographs to me look like they are in their own world, using their imagination or concentrating so hard they are in a new place. The images to me show what we lose as we grow up, as an adult there is so much to get done that we can never focus on one thing at a time. We can never put all our effort into one thing, we can never be like the children in the photographs.