For this exercise I was required to recreate a childhood memory in a photograph… I decided to pick a game which the family played endlessly in caravan holidays and over Christmas every year – Whatchamacallit. It was a game which was very inclusive (all ages could easily play it), rowdy (there was always much screaming and arguing) and quick (no time for boredom to set in). The game also allowed for a bit of cheating and appealed to the highly competitive, of which I was one such individual!
The object of the game following a spin of the psychedelic pink, purple and yellow alphabet wheel, was to quickly name something beginning with the letter the wheel rested on, based on one of the subjects from the main board. You then had to shout out your answer and simultaneously throw your ball into the cardboard box and down to the plastic ball-shaped hole with such a force that even if someone else shouted their answer first, your ball would dislodge their ball and you would win a plastic counter. The bigger your pile at the end of the game, the more chance you had to be crowned Whatchamacallit King or Queen!
Balls used to fly long distances and in the caravan, often ricochet off the walls; there was no penalty for using whatever means, so long as your ball ended up in the hole first. We often used to lurk menacingly on the edge of the box with our balls or hover over the top of the box with them but often this was just a threatening gesture, it was better to aim from further away to get enough pace on the ball. The pressure of the game often meant that other families on the same campsite could hear us having fun several caravans and tents from our own. We apologise for disturbing the peace…
I took several photographs of the game and using a shutter release cable, hid under the table and at different angles, used my own hand to replicate the ways we used to wait for the spin of the alphabet wheel with baited breath before all hell let loose… I then created 3 layers in Photoshop, one with the entire scene and my hand in, the other 2 layers using my hands holding the ball at different angles. I think the picture captures the expectation, but obviously not the madness that ensured.. the proverbial calm before the storm.
Perhaps another way of creating this image would have been to get some bodies to throw in the balls from different angles. I could then have created a blur effect for the coloured balls heading into the box which would have given an essence of the frenzy that ensued… It’s sometimes a shame that photographs don’t contain the ability to include noise (although I suppose they do in the form of videos and obviously I’m aware that many contemporary artists now use a mixture of different types of media including sound alongside their digital or film photographs.)
The other idea I had was to include myself in the shot wearing a motorcycle helmet to give some sense of the sheer danger(!), but that would have moved away from the memory itself. The other thought I had was to go to a second hand shop and try and source some orange and brown curtains, which always seemed to be part of the typical décor in the ‘Alpine’ mobile caravan of the 80s.
I am of course present in this image. The self-portrait aspect of it would be something along the lines of my competitiveness but I felt it was important not to include my face with it’s wrinkles in it of today; it is after all a childhood memory and I had no latex to hand!
The name of the image could be something like.. “Silently waiting for family carnage to ensue”… or similar.. it is difficult to think of something short and snappy for this.
I am fully aware that this photograph will appear a little bland and mean nothing to any other viewer, but the purpose of the exercise was to bring back a personal memory and for me, it does. I have emailed the image to my sister to see what response it gets and I will update this post accordingly…