I think this talk was possibly my favourite so far, in terms of subject matter and speech. It felt very different to any other artist talk as Latham solely talked about his one project Parliament of Owls (2019), being able to go into great depth about this one body of work.

Jack Latham’s work blurs the line between fact and fiction, a documentary approach that leaves enough room for the magic of the conspiracy and fictitious to come about naturally in his work. The poetic approach to documenting a space leaves gaps for the imagination to fill in, in promising a subject matter, the images almost try to weave questions around the viewer, whilst at all times keeping reality (literally) in the background.

The reliance on the knowledge of Bohemian Grove for this project seemed to be key, but as Latham’s talk progressed I felt the more and more information that was given, actually the more questions I had. Latham’s images filled in some spaces, but cleverly, left you wanting more.

As Latham commented ‘Photography takes things out of context and reorders them for the artists narrative, I think conspiracy theories do the same’. (Not a direct quote).

This kept me pondering again on the idea of ‘truth’ within photography, an earlier discussion in tutorials with Jack and James had asked similar questions, should it be ‘fact’ and fiction, or perhaps ‘truth’ and fiction? This project blurs the line between the two, this is a telling of the social group ‘Bohemian Grove’ by Jack Latham, as we saw from the talk, another angle of this is Alex Jones’ ‘truth’ – so which is it? Can we even endeavour to try and capture ‘factual’ photography?

I asked the question of ‘how much research do you do before you actually shoot, as I can imagine with the conspiracy theory Youtube rabbit holes it can get quite immersive?’ (I LOVE a good conspiracy theory rabbit hole) and got the brilliant answer of (I’m paraphrasing)

Enough research to know what I’m talking about, but not too much that it becomes rigid. Let the magic come in through how you photograph’, basically following up with ‘do a bit of both at the same time’, keep informing each other to keep the imagery coming.

I loved this talk and I loved Latham’s images, I really regret not attending his Sugar Paper Theories opening night at RPS, but possibly a lot of website visiting and reading around the project will make up for it.

Jack Latham – Parliament of Owls

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