David Bate – Bungled Memories

14th March 2020

Page 132 of the OCA Foundations in Photography course folder has asked us to look at the work Bungled Memories by David Bate www.davidbate.net.

I can’t believe it – two weeks ago I collected a glass that I had broken which is part of a pair that I have and kept it to symbolise a broken relationship within a still life setting. Here I would shoot the glass which is whole with the broken one to symbolise how I was a broken person in the domestic violence relationship. Then this week I dropped and broke a mug which had the tea stains in it. I was going to photograph this also to symbolise the death of a relationship and the stains represented the soiled memories. I suppose I still can but I hate it when my work takes on a concept or form very close to another artist or photographer.

I absolutely love Bates Bungled Memories series and if I was rich I would purchase the whole collection – I am in love with the abstract nature of the backgrounds, the way the colours are abstracted into shapes and plains and how the objects are balanced by colour line and their shape. It is absolutely eye pleasing to me and very stimulating to my creative side.

These images below are taken from the website David Bate davidbate.net and show the Bungled Memories work in situ within an exhibition.

Bate staged his Bungled Memories photographs with influence based on the ‘Freudian’ concept of the ‘accidental slip’ representing reality. Here Bate is examining the sub conscious role in planning for, setting up, taking the photograph and the viewer having to respond to the finale image. With Freud in the equation he is representing how the images can access memories influenced by events in childhood and therefore in turn will influence a viewers interpretation of the broken objects.

The broken objects have been neatly broken, not the kind of breakages I have ever had. The lines of the breaks coexist with the amazing clean lines of the background and foreground quadrilateral shapes used to set the scene. I actually love these backgrounds they remind me of a modern, mathematical Mondrian and the tones he has used are very attractive to my eye, clean, smooth and very calming. In fact the juxtaposition between the calming tones and sharp broken pieces is very dynamically conceived.

Another aesthetic that is strong within the compositions is how Bates has chosen objects that are smooth have circular properties such as being a cone or a sphere and are curved. This provides the composition with opposites as the backgrounds are quadrilaterals.

Another important and very visual aspect to these images are the objects and the lights shadows. Not only do they help to strengthen the three dimensional forms against the flatness of the setting but they add a mirroring effect, two scenes are presented to the viewer. Is this merely aesthetic or is there more concept hidden within the reflections?

Lastly the placements of the objects are obviously staged due to their spacings and the use of negative spaces between objects and spaces. Even the chair has been purposefully positioned as well as the dividing line of the background and the table edge which is always running horizontal in the picture plane.


To conclude this research I can say that I relate to the images personally as a broken person and one who has a broken reality which is constructed of pieces. Unfortunately I cannot relate much to the concept that Bate’s is working on, only with a minimum understanding because of the titles used which I find hard to pair with the image.


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