Traditionally, stories were a way to make sense of the world. They gave apparent structure to the bewildering torrent of phenomena of which the evolving human mind was rapidly becoming conscious. The power of stories does not rest in the accuracy of their description of the real world. Rather, they construct emotional narratives, creating complete poetic packages from the apparent chaos of lived experience.
Myths are stories that become deeply embedded in the imagination of the community. In modern English, the word ‘myth’ derives from the ancient Greek word ‘mythos’, which simply meant ‘story’. Within modern times, psychoanalysts such as Carl Jung (1875 – 1961) have argued that myths are an important way to understand the workings of those parts of the mind that are not available to direct rational inspection: the unconscious. The characters and situations depicted in myth are shaped by our unconscious drives, which also shape many of our attitudes and actions while remaining beyond our awareness. By studying myths as collective narratives and as individual dreams or fantasies, psychoanalysts believe we can gain insight into the powerful psychological forces that mould the way we feel and behave, even though we remain unaware of them.
The photographic artist Jeremy Blincoe is a visual storyteller. His purpose is not to reflect the world we see around us, but to explore the interior world of the mind. The mind of the individual, but also the mind of the community, the shared imagination of the group.
Like peeling the layers of skin from an onion, it is a slow process of gradual steps as he digs deeper into these imaginative psychological spaces. While his images often spring from the personal, they seek, though the process of becoming artworks, to be reformed in a mythic visual language that may be shared by others.
If these are myths, in that they use narrative to describe possible ways of thinking about the world, they are not fables or parables; they do not have a simple moral lesson they seek to impart. Each visual story remains open, inviting viewers to journey into the mythic space and find, perhaps, their own personal answers or empathic resonance.
Excerpt ‘The Honest Mythmaker’ PhotoWorld China interview by Dr. Alasdair Foster