Paul M Smith explains his fabricated images of war
Click to follow
Indy Lifestyle Online
`I joined the Royal Engineers in 1985, and after taking evening classes in photography, I was given the job of photographer for the regiment for about three years. It was mostly handshakes, really, but I also went on exercises, and so I ended up with a lot of pictures of people acting out war and playing at being soldiers. After leaving the Army, I did a fine art degree and then two years at the Royal College of Art. These three photos are from the work I produced at the end of the Royal College course. I started looking at images representing war, and found there was quite a lot of debate as to whether they were real or acted out. The first picture (top) is inspired by Robert Capa's dying soldier picture from the Spanish Civil War. If it was posed, was it still a true document of the Spanish Civil War? Or was it then not an image of war, even though it was a massive icon of war?

All the parts in all the photographs were taken by me, but people don't notice this immediately. The various shots of me in each picture were taken in situ - in this case, on a beach - and then put together on computer. With the second photographl, I was thinking about the macho element of the Army. As a bloke, you can't wear make-up, but in the Army you can cover yourself in camouflage cream and call it macho. The third image was based on a still from Vietnam.

These photographs are also about the fantasy of battle - there's no blood or guts in this kind of image. If you're a man, you can come into that fantasy. I don't think I've ever met a man who didn't play soldiers as a kid, so I think people make a connection with these pictures whether they've been in the Army or not.' Scott Hughes