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Lara Hughes Photography essay- 


Our attachment to objects and places starts developing from a young
age, naturally over time we gain a sense of ownership and identity over our own
collections of memorabilia. This starts out as a blanket or toy, known as yet
during the transition from adolescence to adulthood, comes the desire to
consolidate and express our individuality what we own, such as cars and houses.
These items become extensions of ourselves and we develop a sense of identity
within them. These attachments can sparked in a variety of ways, through
memories and associations yet alternatively can also be triggered from trauma
or the death of a loved one the subsequent attachments form go on to build our
adult identity.

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Children form these attachments to these toys and blankets as they
‘anthropomorphise objects’. Despite the child being aware that these objects
are not living, they look and care for them as if they are alive. This phenomenon
has developed in our western world due to children sleeping apart from their
parents at an early age. According to the New York University Psychoanalytical
Institute, “the transitional object may be conceived of in three ways: as
typifying a phase in a child’s development; as a defence against separation anxiety; and,
lastly, as a neutral sphere in which experience is not challenged.” As the
child uses and interacts with their transitional object, this becomes
indicative of how they will interact with and maintain human relationships. The
object allows open emotional well-being, and without this trusted safety net,
true feelings may be concealed, suppressed or dismissed as they have no other
outlet to help cope and comprehend what they are faced with. Developmental
psychologist Robert Kegan claims self-referential contexts and meanings are the
key to human development, “meanings are founded on the distinctions each person
makes of the stimuli he or she engages with” — Mainly the inanimate
objects they chose have an internal life of their own, however, if the
self-chosen object is denied or rejected in any means, later in life
difficulties to form attachments may surface.

 (Colleen Goddard is a Child Development Specialist at Beginnings Nursery School in
New York City and a Ph.D. student at Fielding Graduate University studying the
significance of transitional objects at the beginning and end of life.)

As we grow, so does our need to continue to embody our sense of self
and purpose. In 2010, psychologist Karen Lollar wrote, “The house is not merely
a possession or a structure of unfeeling walls. It is an extension of my
physical body and sense of self that reflects who I was, am and what to be,” which
highlights the importance of material possessions and place in contemporary
life. We fill our homes with objects that we collect throughout our lives,
family photos, ornaments and general memorabilia to create a place that we can
call home, a positive and safe-feeling space to live in. ‘Place identity’ is how
a place’s components satisfy you in a range of different ways – biologically,
socially, psychologically and culturally – it reflects and defines your values,
attitudes, feelings and beliefs1. As a person
lives and creates memories within a place, they begin to build an attachment
which brings a sense a belonging and purpose alongside it. People
incorporate their sense of place into the larger concept of self which
incorporates with their memories, conceptions, interpretations, ideas and
feelings. Winston Churchill once said, “we shape our buildings and afterwards
our buildings shape us’ which further shows how the spaces we build ourselves
eventually will help to build us as people, as our attachments deepen as does
the buildings characteristics and personality. When you enter someone else’s
house, these objects reveal hints into the person’s life and their personality,
a clean cut, sterile home may suggest the inhabitants are perhaps a more cold,
conservative character , however a small, cosy cottage with the walls laden
with family photos and a lit log fire may suggest a warmer, more
family-orientated atmosphere. This ideology can be extended to the exterior of
the home too. Many adults also use ‘comfort objects’, which they use as a
security blanket for their own wellbeing. According to a 2011 survey by Travelodge,
about 35 percent of British adults still sleep with a teddy bear2. The concept of
comfort objects often is used as emotional support during transitions, the
object giving the same comfort as their home, family or culture when in an
unfamiliar area or following a significant loss. In Western countries the
attachment to comfort objects reaches as high as 60%3.
In the study by Michael Hong, it was found that around 50% of American children
and only around 20% of Korean children developed an attachment to a blanket or
an equivalent of primary transitional objects4.


Hoarding is when people make severe emotional attachments to inanimate objects,
feeling these things hold special value meaning they collect vast quantities
and are unable to throw them away. Statistics show that 15-30% of individuals
diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) also exhibit hoarding tendencies, the
obsessive need to collect and keep material objects may serve as a coping
mechanism for grief, loss or
posttraumatic stress5.
Collecting these items is their constant attempt to fill this gap in their
lives and avoid dealing with the pain. Dr. Jamie Feusner, from UCLA’s School of
Medicine claimed that most hoarders do not have a partner, as their behaviour
has either driven away those around them or has prevented them from forming
meaningful relationships.


Photographer Jim Golden captures graphic collections of themed objects
works as both an abstract collage and a beautiful showcase of the intricate
design properties of the entities.

By placing hundreds of like objects next to each other, it allows the
eye to travel across the span of the images and forces the viewer to consider
minute differences. They are invited to enjoy an inanimate object for its stark
simplicity and design. Although the works come across as relatively sterile and
clean cut, each image has an emotional core- the ‘camping collection’ was
inspired by a flashlight Golden owned as a child that he rediscovered in a
thrift store that inspired him to create a composition around it. Golden’s work
strives to capture the pure essence of his subjects instead of glorifying them
by imposing a false sense of beauty upon them. 


“It’s a very accessible for the viewer and allows for the combination
of all types of different objects in one image.”

Golden started his career in the fast paced New York advertising
world, working as a high end re-toucher and visual effects specialist which
still comes into play in his work, he spends hours retouching the images with
great precision. In 2000 he moved to Portland which is where he shot his first
collection. Once he discovered one of his friends had a collection of even
hundred scissors he strived to survey them in a new and innovative way. After a
week of trying different styles it dawned on him to use the classic top-down
apparel format to translate the idea.

The ‘scissor collection’, alike his work that followed in suit has a
minimal style, contradicting to the mass mess that is often the product of
hoarding tendencies. This minimalist style spans further then the composition,
the even white lighting of the image minimalizes shadows and any unrelated
distractions. The initial focal point of this image is the large dark scissors
placed just above the centre of the image, your eyes then wonder across the
image noticing the subtle changes in colour, shape and size. The collection is
so vast and intricate every time you look at the image you notice a new detail
you did not previously see. Moreover, Golden’s use of a simple white background
works well for this image as its stark simplicity means no detail is lost and
eliminates distractions as the collection is very eclectic. For me, the
scissors give off an industrial air, each pair has been used and owned by
different people with different stories, giving each a personality of their own
and an ode to the industrial past, Golden commented on his collection of work,
‘I feel collecting is human nature. Find stuff you like and hang on to it, use
it, enjoy it. The “Collection” series is me basically collecting images of
other people’s collections’

The consistent pattern of the scissors
gives the image a rhythmic quality, the spaces between the rows working like
waves moving across the image, this ordered chaos is the result of Golden’s obsessive
pursuit of perfectionism. It also hints at a broader conversation concerning
hoarding and waste, encouraging the viewers of the image to admire the beauty
the people with these disorders associate with these mundane objects, seeing
them together allows them to have a glimpse into the mind of others, seeing
these collections beauty and characteristics that are otherwise overlooked.

This persistent need to
collect objects is relevant in the current media-driven capitalist, western
society, where materialism has become a primary aspect to everyday life. These
material goods allow us to manipulate how we desire to be perceived by others
and give us a sense of control about our outer being. We can tailor our clothes
and exterior façade to alter others impressions of us, a way of defining and
maintaining one’s self-concept. This overbearing power that the media has
enforced applies a constant pressure to our perception of ourselves and
belongings, subsequently changing our relationships with item, materialism
stresses the outer world over our inner world, emphasizing one’s relationship
to others through ownership and possessions. This lack of satisfaction over our
belongings drives us to constantly want more and more. Specifically, in today’s
society materialism is reflected by the consumer culture.  


The pop-art movement that
arose in the late 1950’s directly addressed this culture, simultaneously
glorifying and criticizing it. This post war-era was marked by the inevitable
period of prosperity and rise of neoliberal capitalism, a society that promoted
a lifestyle of leisure and consumption, material objects and consumer goods
began to be channelled into the art world. Pop artists created works exploring
our everyday lives rather than previously when works were one-off
‘masterpieces’ worth large sums of money. Warhol completely reinvented art,
changing it from an exclusive product to one that was mass produced for the
masses. Warhol had grown tired of the Abstract Expressionist of the 1940’s and
1950’s and aimed to recreate the same imagery produced by advertising. Growing
tired if the alienating Abstract Expressionism, he began applying the concept
of advertising to his work, using the images of popular consumer products and
celebrities made the works easier for the viewer to relate to whilst
simultaneously portraying a message. The process of repetition in ‘Campbells
Soup Cans’ (1962) highlights the concept of ‘mass production’, echoing the
appearance of a fully stocked super market shelf with subtle changes between
each print (alike repition in the Goldens’ work).   Following
this work, almost completely transitioned to silkscreen printing and stopped
personally making his artwork. Rather, his assistants produced and printed
silkscreen prints at his New York studio, The Factory. Moreover, as his work
became mass-produced it ironically mimicked the
pass-produced products he depicted in his work, the art becoming a consumer
product itself, this way of working is the opposite of how art was previously
viewed, as one of a kind ‘master-pieces’. Warhol’s work not only changed
people’s relationships with the products depicted (as it allowed them to value
and appreciate the design) which would otherwise be overlooked, it also changed
people’s relationship with the art itself.




Warhol depicted soup cans as he, himself had an
affinity with them. They  were his
favourite food and therefore shows that his work has a special connection to
him  “I used to drink it. I used to have the same
lunch every day, for 20 years, I guess, the same thing over and over again.” Yet,
the subtle irony that followed pop art, as well as its indirect ciritisim o
social circumstances, have resulted in the ambulant assessment of their
attitude towards consumer culture. Whether critical or celebratory, Pop Art certainly illuminated
the materialism that dominates the capitalist society.


Playful attitude

Consumer goods and advertising imagery were
saturating the everyday lives of Americans,

The 32 prints echo well-stocked supermarket

combination of the semi-mechanized process, the non-painterly style, and the
commercial subject initially caused offense, as the work’s blatantly mundane
commercialism represented a direct affront to the technique and philosophy of
abstract expressionism.















The Psychology Of Ownership: Why Are We So Attached To Our Things


‘My heart remains a recluse in this dead

Steeped in the reverie of what used to be,

I keep my vigil for another day,

Before I too fade away.’

‘I believe we leave echoes of ourselves
behind, in those rooms where our lives are first defined’





2 35 percent of British adults sleep with bear United Press
International, 21 February 2012

3 Fortuna, Keren; Baor,
Liora; Israel, Salomon; Abadi, Adi; Knafo, Ariel (2014-05-22). “Attachment
to inanimate objects and early childcare: A twin study”

4 Hong,
K. Michael; Townes, Brenda D. (1976-12-01). “Infants’
Attachment to Inanimate Objects: A Cross-Cultural Study”. Journal of the American Academy of
Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.


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