“Mixed Privilege” is a project examining the cultural identity and dynamics of African American (or ethnic) and Caucasian mixed individuals. As a child of rape, I did not have the average mixed race upbringing as I was raised by two white parents. This has fueled my desire to understand the dynamics and life histories of mixed raced individuals of all ages. I intend to and have interviewed individuals about their lived histories including their childhoods, feelings about being mixed, the racial identity they identify most with, and anything else they would like to say about being a mixed race individual in America. Initially I was going to focus solely on black and white mixed raced individuals but I am currently contemplating whether or not to include experiences of other mixed race people because I believe that their lives and stories are valid and deserve to be told. While doing test shoots for this project I have decided on also including what I like to call documentary still life’s. I have found that many people, including myself, tend to create shrines in our houses, bedrooms, and even within the objects we hold dearest. I believe the way we arrange these shrines to our individuality can be very telling of a person’s past and present.
While working on iterations for this project I have gone through many media types. Initially I wanted to shoot film on my Mamiya 645 pro and have gelatin fresco prints as my medium. Film was not sensitive enough to get the quality of images I want with the lighting available and gelatin frescos did not provide a clean enough image to be applicable to my documentary style. I have decided on a 20×20” square format print on metallic luster paper which has a wide tonal range and provides rich, deep blacks for my black and white images. I have chosen to shoot each person in this series as a documentary style portrait, a documentary still life of their own creation, and a story corps style recording about their experiences. I have chosen not to include my voice in these interviews as I believe that will detract from their stories. While editing and mixing these interviews I have struggled with the length as I want to tell as much of their stories as possible but I want to make sure that the viewer is engaged fully for the time the person is talking. Because of this I have decided that I am going to limit the length of the audio to under 1 minute and 30 seconds. This has been a difficult but exciting challenge and I can say that I truly enjoy mixing audio and seeing sound in a whole new level.
For the presentation of my sound I am still looking into many options. The cheapest of those options would be to use a cheap mp3 player and head phones at diptych so the viewer can have a private listening experience. Conversely, I could have the sound played through speakers from the MP3 player to allow for a combined listening experience. Ideally though I plan to create this sound system from scratch to fulfill all of my needs and to make it as aesthetically pleasing and appropriate as possible. If I do build my own sound system I have several options. I can purchase all of the tech off a website that sells computer and robotics parts that run on Linux. I have been spit balling with my roommate who is a computer programmer and has volunteered to go on this sound adventure with me. We have looked at many options and the best ones I can think of are the following.
A pressure sensor in the floor connected to a 20w stereo amplifier with 20W 4 Ohm full range speaker. Alternatively, I could use a IR receiver instead of a pressure sensor so the viewer can use a wireless remote to start the audio. Another option is to use a button similar to those found in museums to that the viewer will press in order to have the sound play. When it comes to headphones I can add a Bluetooth receiver for wireless headphones or the simpler option of using wired headphones for that real 90’s tv museum feel.
All of these options are things I would love opinions on so if you understand audio I would love to hear from you.
In addition I have several questions for tomorrows critique that I would love to get replies on.
Does my chosen medium fit the project?
What sound option do you think would best fit my project?
Are the interviews and photographs engaging enough to keep your attention for the full interview clip?
Should the interviews be longer or shorter?
Should I include other mixed race cultures or should I focus solely on the black and white mixed race individual.
How is my sound quality? What would you like to see improved?
How are my images? Do they fit with the stories the individuals are telling and do they say enough about that person?
What more would you like to see from these images and from my interviews?
Does this series show you the experiences of mixed race individuals?
These are the images for my first two diptychs.