PHO702: Week 10 Speaking Photographically

Speaking Photographically

Week 10 Webinar Reflecting on Practice

Week 10 Independent Reflection

My independent reflection leaves me in a mild state of shock. This passion I call photography, turns to obssession and if sustained becomes unhealthy. We all go through it and for me I have to recognise the onset and start to de-commit in order to restore or maintain life balance.

So after an intense period invluding catching up from the Falmouth visit whilst the course ran on, I got up to date, more so in the previous 8 weeks but engaged a bit less with the material content of the course to address my perceived shortfall in finished work. The 140 injury photographs had resulted in a dozen or so images and I needed more for the portfolio edit. That is the main assignment score so cant be left to chance.

I’ve taken. time to engage over the ElliotHalls Amsterdam – Falmouth University blog collaboration and done some Peer to Peer engagement – a great way of progressing.

As I turn back to the course and the option of making a video I reflect on the images made this week. They address the strange translation of injury into landscape – don’t ask, it happens when I apply intuition to my work and it serves to address the intent of memories faded. The results created with consistency of method I find magical as I work groups of images that go together. As my work is compared to painters and to Mark Rothko I become increasingly aware of differences of constraint. The painter can paint from floor height to ceiling height especially in the context of art as an experience and make as many marks as is necessary. My work where it involves injury on a small scale, doesn’t adapt to microscopy and now matter how expensive the camera resolution is the known limitation. My this week work I am happy with as being highly imaginative and connected to intent but at a small scale. The creation of depth with appropriate perspective I am amazed at getting. Enlarge the images and they break down, first taking on a style akin to a cartoon filter effect, which is far from my direction.

Also, in fine boomerang fashion I’ve listened and followed taking others perceptions onboard and got visually consistent images which with more polish would be fine, yet there is a but. I’ve gone into a fog and have emerged at a place that wrong for my intent. The sombre mood of Rothko style work for me parallels only the motivation for my doing my work. The outcomes I want are colour. They lived their lives (in the past in the Great War) in colour but we represent them in black and white. I have always had the intent of a perspective of a coloured past. The other pillar of my work is a celebration of life and that definitely demands colour and vibrancy. I maintain my bond with them but celebrate freedom out of their sacrifice.

Week 10 Activity Positioning Practice

Week 10 Presentation Pictures Like Poems

We listened to Jeff Wall in a gallery surrounded by his work, talk in reflective mood. This wa in the form of a video that interleaved his thought about his photography with the gallery team working hard to set up an exhibition.

Here are some observations I made from this, although on a second viewing / reading. On the first viewing, with no introduction, I had wondered who this stranger was until around 5 minutes in I realised we had seen some of his constructed images earlier in the module.

Wall has an interest in painting photography and cinematography and discusses art. He is able to objectify the photograph and at the same time objectify people within the photograph.

He avoids talking in the inclusive style preferring to exercise his own voice. He creates a reference between the photograph and himself and leaves it to the reader to accept the parallel experience.

He relates to the enjoyment and liking of good work. And he talks occasionally in an instructional manner.

Also, he creates a benchmark in photography of the snapshot to which all other photographs must compare. Then he references the idea of straight photography to which he relates the constructed scene.

He’s concerned with happenings and often as accident, through his involvement in the slow process of making. He has an interest in participation and involvement and relates this to scenes that relate to existence or that which existed. 

He considers the love of imagery and in the practical dealing with things, observing them and liking them. He has a concern for appearance. He perceives the world as a set of relations either created or found in which there is the dynamic changing of content over time.

He expresses a resistance to fixed beliefs and to conformity and seems to entertain elements of doubt concerning uniqueness, complication or complexity and idealism.

He has a wide interest in art which he studied at school as art history and yet somehow did not become an art historian. Wall does not believe in the old in photography only in a contemporary interpretation.

He is concerned by causal aspects of photography, such as the photograph as illusion, in the looking through, as well as the effect of accompanying text or indeed its absence. He also relates causally to photography in its making and the resulting feeling of confirmation that he is observant the happiness that he gains.

Week 10 Module Leader Sessions

These sessions have to be the highlight of this course module. Contact time is very impressive. The first session is usually difficult being so early in the week with the work still to be engaged with yet it does provide context for a quick start. I fell over this week on scouted ahead to the Jeff Wall reflective. He’d not featured on on my known list and it took 5 minutes to realise he was the photographer who likes to construct snap shots if I may put it so bluntly. Although Wall is an esteemed academic, in my usual manner I resist placing photographers of pedestals.

So that is not to say I could not or on second viewing learn from his unique experience and insights. Such is the delight of this quick start to the week’s study.

In the next session, I gained from numerous reminders over key information designed to assist our success on the course.It is hard to overstress the importance of this as otherwise the online delivery and engagement falls off into the abstract.

The last session is my favourite and easier to enjoy as by then I will have prepared and engaged in Tutor sessions. As we are able to engage with our own and another Tutor, I gain a great deal of insight and see much more work of others. This is so important to my development and hopefully I can give insight to others. Having been through this readies one to participate here and begin to reflect on the week gone by and its learning points.

So thank you all.

Week 10 Forum Evaluating Practice

Week 10 Speaking Photographically

PHO702: Week 9 Coursework Enter the Academy

Week 9 Resources Enter the Academy

I’d got on with my reading and kept switching the theme from advertising, to politics and propaganda to the interpretation of oil paintings. That was quite a breadth of material, and I’d love to be able to just sit and read and read and read. Well actually, yes I have been regularly dipping in and out of one reading or another.

Week 9 Webinar Contexts of Consumption

Here, if I talk from experience of my part in 2018 group exhibitions.

[A] Identify and research a real-life group exhibition that you feel your work would fit into.

I was part of a group project from the outset. Although I’d expected a book I hadn’t contemplated the exhibitions. In the charge of experienced hands it was a great group experience.

[B] What is the curatorial intent of the exhibition?

People and events on specific routes through London. It gained significance as the Grenfell tower disaster happened on our shift. So too did the terrorist action on London Bridge where the public were run over and hacked by weapons. The next event was much more of the every day, the project we shadowed delayed so substantially the contemporary nature of the work was dented. You could never plan for all these events. It was a good 6 months or more of effort but we worked at incredible pace. That was amazing, I still have to pinch myself.

[C] Why would your work be included in it?

As major contributor there was one reason. Being invited by the editor to spend the day shooting and lunching with him must have also helped. Being a willing partner in other accompanied shoots helped team building and helped gain recognition.

[D] How would the reviewers relate your practice to the other works shown?

Reviewers included Zelda Cheatle, Martin Parr foundation and others then Chloe Dewe Mathews. By proxy I was told about the power of recognising a situation and capturing it being a powerful thing. Some images, even though not my best worked because in a book you have page matching and the editorial intent could be recognised.

[E] What is the most appropriate means for the public consumption of your work?

Book, taster exhibition and full exhibition wth opening night were all appropriate. Other surprises included my written work being included in a journal as an individual amongst other group member entries. I think that happened twice.

I attended two tutorials. In the first I was able to gain something that allowed me to enter the second better prepared.

Week 9 Independent Reflection

[A] Who writes interpretation material for galleries / museums?

[B] What do you notice about this voice or voices?

[C] Does it speak to you?

[A] Curators (and others not stated here at the moment)

[B] It is all upside and why not. Given the power to curate, why pick bad work?

[C] The material may or may not speak to me. I’m broad minded enough to patiently listen and apply interpretation. I don’t seek out all of the material all of the time. I might opt for preserving original thought and bypass the material and read it afterwards having gained personal experience. If I was leading a group to an exhibition say I’d be honour bound to do the homework and read the materials to be able to handle queries or to garner interest. If I was securing funding to attend I’d have to do my due diligence and read the materials.

Week 9 Module Leader Office Hours

Another very valuable week of support to those who could make it. Contact opportunities are full time equivalent.

Week 9 Independent Reading Contemporary Cultures of Display

Week 9 Independent Reading Contemporary Cultures of Display

[A] How do photographs acquire value and meaning?

[B] Is ‘art’ separate from society?

[C] Is contemporary ‘art’ photography different from earlier forms of ‘art’ photography?

Sadly I cannot engage with this fully as the reading link leads to a library meta dataset of information about the book but certainly no download link – tried another browser still no luck.

Let me try without the resource.

[A] I covered most of this in the preceding section. Repetition of task is detected.

[B] Art exists within sections of society and at any point in time may not be displayed and copies as illustrations on books or catalogues could serve to remind. Art can’t be read without reference to society or culture. It can be looked at and looked though or be ignored especially if it is not noted for its popularity. It’s just that it may not always be accessible. Propaganda art is going to be out there in the faces of the public in some instances on the side of political campaign buses.

[C] Yes Contemporary art photography is different to earlier forms. It’s intent may be more defined in order to distinguish it in a sea of images. However, time may need to pass, I usually say a hundred years from now, for the latent meaning to become more fully apparent. Contemporary work may also now be digital something not invented in time for earlier forms. Earlier forms will have had a chance to be exposed to exhibition and commentary by curator or critic. Contemporary work may be waiting its day.

Week 9 Introduction Enter the Academy

[A] What is ‘art’ and who has the authority to decide what is ‘good art’?

[B] Do we place value upon these artefacts? How and Why?

[C] Is photography ‘art’ or the ‘plastic verification of a fact’ (De Zayas, 1913)?

[A] Marshall McLuhan is my go to source for the definition of Art and sometimes incorrect attribution goes to Andy Warhol. “Art is what you can get away with”.

For me going back to this week has given me a tough lecture to crack. 

I watched the recording several times over. I got almost to the point of parsing each sentence to follow what was said. Maybe I’m tired, maybe too many distractions from the current week forum based on the videos we created. I entered a fog. At at some point I’ll emerge from it.

An earlier piece by different author was also a challenge and in the end I read the last paragraph then progressed step by step to the first page and remarkably it engaged me. Perhaps that’s it. Not every lecture will have the same relevance to individual practice.

[B] In my independent reading and at another week of the course I did dive into art and value. I can relate to that as a parallel to the lecture. Works of art gain cultural value through ownership which makes then causes access to become scarce. With equal works of art say by two different authors one may gain acceptance in the gallery world, the other not. Politics of the art world can determine selection and hence value. Once a work makes it to the gallery walls and is in the company of other work or even just the space of the gallery then importance is assigned. Even provocative bad work can find it’s place and as in Damien Hirst’s work the public may be astonished at what gets displayed and so are by now used to good and bad in their perception. But, once there, the work gains something that makes it desirable to art buyers.

In Hirst’s case his cheeky chappy repartee allows him to survive onslaught and in such a disarming way. Every piece of art is going to have its detractors, so realising this the artsist can be easily forewarned or forearmed. In emerging generations where they have grown up through school much more as co-collaborators a group can easily form around a work and free discussion and a common creed can act to strengthen the work against opposition just by being ready with the argument and a healthy disrespect for formality or formal argument.

[C] As for art or plastic, the answer is straightforward. Photography is both. Let’s pin down a single piece or body of work and answer that. Even then, there is all the ambiguity of contexts and reader experiences. Photography as a subject is now such a wide thing it resists being pigeonholed.

PHO702: Week 8 Coursework Responses and Responsibilities

Responses & Responsibilities

Reflection (this paragraph is due to move to the relevant blog post)

With work piling up fast again I’ve pressed ahead this week. At Week 5 I’d finally got organised over the coursework finishing on a Friday rather than the Sunday (or later) and this left time for reading activity. I do need to do more research into Mark Rothko. Attendance at the FFTheLivingImage took 7 days out of my schedule and put me behind again. Week 6 work I’ve only part covered at present. The tactic adopted is the simple one of keeping up to date with the current (live) work and go back to earlier sections of the course and catch-up. The pressure is on with a video due to be made for Peer review in the short term. Not mentioned is Week 7. It was reserved for Tutorials which I engaged with and wrote up but probably need to revisit for some finishing touches including doing more i.e. re-issuing the draft Critical Review.

Week 8 Resources and Responsibilities

A quick read ahead of Benjamin (Benjamin, 1982) has helped to distil something of the theme and intent of this week’s study.

A particular element of my portfolio project continues to be authenticity. Therefore it was with interest I read, “the Revolutionary strength of Dadaism lay in testing art for its authenticity.  [ibid, page 23]. This gives me some comfort as a starting position.

I also take note in nourishing my work in respect of technical progress in reading the claim that, “… intellectual production cannot become politically useful until … competence … has been surmounted.” [ibid, page 24]. A direct interpretation might be of photographic technical competence, but it runs much deeper. As a photographic author it is necessary to understand the production quality of work and be able to do a lot more than simply represent, instead take control and change aspects of the methods of creating imagery and as a means of instructing other authors of the same.

This takes something that runs deep in my work and places it front and centre more in the realm of the political or of propaganda. 

If I take a first stab at this interpretation it would be that in much the same way as our Jewish friends are committed to never letting the memory of the Holocaust die, then the same with my work, the loss of dear ancestors, who remain alive in living family today should not be forgotten. In a way the raw outpourings of the Scottish people and then decades of silence of hidden loss, the gaps I refer to, makes ongoing memory a challenge and so my works effort. My work transmits beyond centenary commemorations of 2014-2018 and lives with descendants just as mitochondrial DNA passes down to them.

Such loss and sacrifice and the brave deeds must be remembered with each new generation and whilst we celebrate our lives, we should not allow world events to take such a turn in the future. As sure as history repeats itself then that is the eternal risk.

Finally from this reference, and I had had not expected such a reading to be so transformative, I quote and reflect upon a referral, “The excellent Lichtenberg said: ‘It is not what a man is convinced of that matters, but what his convictions make of him’”[ibid, page 27]. By such process I need to ensure that my work on this MA Photography course leads me to exercise voice through my transformed photographs as abstract expressionism and in intent through art as an experience. 

We, I in particular should do and create within my sphere of influence and make work that helps to ensure successive generations remember. This is not too dissimilar to how painter Rachel Howard (Howard Rachel, 2018) draws attention to the repetition of mistake from Christ’s crucifixion through to torture at Abu Ghraib supporting the doubt that we will ever learn.

Bibliiography

Benjamin, W. (1982) ‘The Author as Producer [IN] Thinking photography’, in Burgin, V. (ed.) Thinking photography. London: Macmillan.

Howard Rachel (2018) Repetition is truth via Dolorosa. Edited by A. C. Beard Jason. London: Other Criteria Books. Available at: newportstreetgallery.com.

Week 8 What Can Photography Do

Week 8 CRJ Independent Reflection

Week 8 Activity Aesthetic or Anaesthetic

The particular body of work that aims to convey a particular message and that is relevant to my practice has to be:

Rachel Howard Repetition is Truth via Dolrosa, Newport Street Gallery London – exhibition now closed.

The work at first is of Catholic significance, in using the journey of Christ along Dolorosa carrying the cross to the site of crucifixion on the hill at Calvary. 

The visual language of the paintings immediately resonated with images I’d abstracted from Photographs and had posted online and part included in my submission to Falmouth University for this MA Photography course. In showing my images to Olympia who worked there, she was amazed by the similarities of paintings and abstracts. Conversation continued about belief in God, attempts by a dark force to frustrate work and how this work was my life’s mission. Very heavy indeed. An interesting diversion over an ongoing series of coincidences. Coincidences which threatened my engagement and continuation in photography continued into my first two modules of this course.

The paintings of Howard are intended to influence the audience and those in political power. The work addresses repetition of inhumanity first directed towards Christ and then towards prisoners of the US tortured at Abu Ghraib. 

The work in exhibition was successful in its metaphor for the twelve stages of the cross as the viewer is required to walk from one large scale painting  to another traversing rooms as if retracing Christ’s footsteps. This may become more apparent afterwards if b=not at the time. The reference to Abu Ghraib is through the vertical lines on the paintings sometimes descending to a painted area representing the box used in torture.Those tortured were required to stand on the box, wear a hood and had electrodes attached to sensitive areas of the body.

The paintings are light and airy and have a sense of the impending. You imagine the artist doubts whether humankind will ever learn from mistakes through repetition of cruel behaviour as if part if human nature and human history.

With the backing of Damien Hirst (they both attended Goldsmiths College University of London), Howard’s  work takes on additional significance given the installation work Hirst is known for: including cutting mother and calf from nose to tail for one exhibit at the Tate Modern and doing roughly the same with a shark in a tank. This theme of butchery resonates strangely with Howard’s work. 

It was possible to walk into the gallery and leave without effect, but for me, as soon as the enquiring mind engaged and the communication began the work transmitted. Then my own work was cast in the shadow of Howard’s intent and so much so that I wrote to the gallery afterwards. More follows.

Week 8 Presentation The Environment and the Eye

Week 8 Independent Reading Good Intentions

[A] The main ideas/points/arguments you think Sischy makes about Salgado’s work?

[B] Whether you agree or disagree with this view and why?

[C] Any issues raised that apply to your own practice?

[A] There is a blatant dislike that serves to sour our appreciation of Salgado. [B] As we learned elsewhere, the Galleries and Curatorial system self serves in its selection of work that drives artists/photographers to make work that they would publish. There is nothing said by Salgrado that one can take in and decide upon independently. It is the mission of Sischy to taint Salgado with the choices that the Gallery system has decided upon. In allowing his work to be managed by the Gslleries Salgado has put his trust in their discernment. It seems clear that his trust may have been mistaken.

[A] There is a theme in Sischy’s argument that a Brazilian photographer has no or limited right to represent other nationals. [B] That is an opinion I could agree or disagree with independently, case by case.

[A] There is an undermining of Salgado’s work as being restricted to the type of magazine that no longer has any appreciable sway in the modern world in which television prevails. With such reduced demand it would seem that Salgado is ideally positioned to swamp the market.

[A] The beauty that the photograph is often referred to as creating and is present in Salgado’s work is deemed to create indifference.as anesthetisation leads to anaesthetisation of feeling. [B]Well this of course is the exact thing that television has been found to do. Through passive engagement, and lightness of touch on thought processes television which has taken over paralyses the viewer who simply stares back at the screen.

[A] Biblical themes are seen to enter Salgado’s work. [B] This is no more than the photograph being a window on the photographers soul. Why should Salgado be less immune to this than any other?

[A] There is a challenge that depicting suffering can be read in the light of God’s will, implying and so it shall be that people shall suffer.

[A] Salgado is criticised for being a symbolist rather than portraitist. [B] We have not been shown visual examples of Salgado’s work for this to become apparent. I can accept it as true and yet keep an open mind. 

[A] / [B] Salgado’s work is self-directed, and how wonderful and liberating that can be. It is then judged as anesthetisation as opposed to reportage, If it were to be reportage then for this level of work surely there would be a sponsor, a commissioning editor and a picture editor. By which definition reportage is manipulated and controlled by others in return for a payment. IT is hard to blame the photographer for the direction their personal projects take.

[A] Salgado’s work of people is likened to the language of Landscape photography of the picturesque rather than portraiture. [B] There is one equality in photography and that is light and the use of light. If used incorrectly a poor image may be created of little consequence. A good light is beautiful wherever it falls in this world. And so to make a photograph that communicates a god 9beautiful light is a necessary thing.

[A] Comparison is made with other photographers, smith and Hine. It appears that some reservation is retained over Smith’s work and Hine is applauded for the outcome of Child Labor Law changes.[b] There is by metamorphosis an implication that Hine was responsible for the change, yet how true is that really?

[A] Sentimentalism is said to be apparent In Salgado’s work. [B] Surely that is something resolved between the photographer and the viewer and not to be tainted by the critic? 

[C] My work could be deemed as naïve if it wanted to change the world especially as there is no track record of experience in such weighty matters. What started out as a dedication to family and has the possibility to pass down generations including those yet to come may have some credence.

[C] My work could be deemed to contain items of revulsion, as after all that is a part of my punctum, in making the work worthwhile. There is a delicate balance within pieces of my imagery. Largely the photograph containing revulsion is highly disguised and distracts and may be seen as introducing beauty. However, there is trace and so the mind can focus on the mixture rather than pure anesthetisation. 

[C] Biblical themes did begin to enter my work and in particular the sign of the Christian cross was often apparent. I realise now that I had been open to viewing such images and in the subconscious and using intuition the cross did start to appear in my photographs. A case of seeing what you want to see. I feel this is now tempered and a level of self-awareness has since developed that counters an increase in iconography.

[C] Whether my work is iconographic or not, I can’t say. It is certainly metaphorical but I’m not sure that is at all the same thing.

[C] My own work may have a sentimentalism, but such is the nature of remembering, communication of lost messages across the decades and the family as audience. Perhaps others may view such in the light of their own family experiences.

Week 8 Module Leader Sessions

These sessions have expanded beyond their original remit to include reviews of the work in the current week, crits, practice session and special lectures e.g. the series to date has include The Gaze Part I and Landscape photography.

This has to be one of the greatest value adds of the two year MA Photography course Informing Contexts module. Not all students attend maybe concentrating hard on work and family commitments or doing individual research.

Week 8 Forum An Agent of Change

Photography in concert with other forms of communication including video, military recordings and media conferences, interviews and reports brought the US to a ceasefire after the Highway of Death destruction and killing in the retreat of Iraqi forces from Kuwait occupation.

Whilst shocking subject material should be censored, we have become so accustomed by exposure and it is increasingly more difficult to shock. I’m remined of the extremes of creating shock in which Marina Abramovic stood naked before a table of implements at a gallery in Belgrade and invited the audience to do whatever they wished to her.. She walked away dripping with blood and tears. On another occasion she carved a communist star into her abdomen. We are so immune to shock it takes such extremes of Performance Art to induce shock in an audience.

Week 8 Introduction Responses and Responsibilities

[A] What images provoke a sense of responsibility for you?

[B] How do they achieve this?

[C] Are they merely propaganda?

Another difficult reading with an accompanying barrage of questions. Here are answer to the headline ones.

[A] Not an image but a series of factual reports for me are what caused the nation to reject Prime Minister Tony Blair and his government as dangerous incompetents and thus they were voted out of power. Perhaps the exercise of restraint after the Highways of Death (Highway 80 and Highway 8) killing of a retreating column of military said more than actual raw images of horror.

[B] Having proven the power to destroy a military force then afterwards holding back on killing showed a greater humanity.

[C] Whilst many images are propaganda as discrete soundbites, they do fail to shock as hinted at constantly throughout the video lecture. Many younger members of society are probably immune to destructive forces by exposure to war video games. Players get to experience the excitement and feeling of power, and of camaraderie when in opposition to an enemy. They “die” using up one of their lives. Older generations may remain silent. In other words, different demographics have different values and responses. 

Returning to the question: propaganda or not? I couldn’t say. Media profit yes. Filling that eternally emptying broadcast bandwidth with something new, yes. I’m reminded of the phrase “Drop the Dead Donkey”. 

PHO702: Week 7 Tutorials

Some asides (if these weren’t written about it would have seemed a rather sparse week – in fact, it was a really packed week)

Finally I’m back, after last week and the weekend away at the Falmouth Flexible Living Image meet-up and Symposium. On arriving back it was straight into a Module Leader briefing. Whilst away I did a boutique apartment shoot and gained feedback from the hotel owner.

Shot on B&W film, machine developed, scanned and processed – Michael Turner

About the apartment photos “they have inspired me to be a bit more experimental … Love the dressing gowns in the wardrobe especially and the bath”.

As noted in the past it is good to have a change from the abstract work, in a way to demonstrate to myself that I can handle a camera (or film camera in this case). Thanks to the Workshop support, it was possible then to go on and to use the craft and do the full end to end workflow – the return to materiality.

Reference: Ilford film processing summary on YouTube

Symposium – Twitter

Social Media was used to tweet the Symposium as @fotographical on #FFTheLivingImage on Twitter.

Tutor 1-2-1 Meeting

Due to non-availability and diary clash, I swapped Tutors for this and got back together with my original Tutor from the very first module.

Discussion was focussed on preparation of the video presentation due in 8 April for peer review. The process is staged like this: draft a new version of the Critical Review section 1 intent; then write-up sections 2, 3 and 4 positioning the work with references and giving it contextualisation. Review this along the way and use it as the basis of the video we need to submit.

Points picked in Tutor review were:

  • Include a quote in an early paragraph.
  • Include a “bad” image (to demonstrate being critical)
  • Include other practitioners

Read Representations of Trauma

Bibliography

Module Leader Review

A group of students had prepared two key images and statement of intent.

Here are my two images and Intent

Portfolio Abstract Impressionism

“Bravery and sad events unspoken. Remembering those who gave, through the glow that is life’s force.”

Michael Turner

Time for Concern
Of Physical Trauma ignored

Mitochondrial DNA fought for existence in the early days of life on Earth. My portfolio example is a trace of survival from those commemorated through self and close others alive today. Our mDNA: converts nutrients to energy; powers the cells that defend, heal and repair our bodies. And so we reflect light and emit the heat recorded here. We celebrate through true physical manifestation and our warmth that is life’s glow.

A Time for Celebration
Connected as Colour Emitted

Module Leader Office Hours – Briefing

I attended the Monday evening briefing and obtained direction over two upcoming meetings this week that required preparation.

The Critical Review … the Intention of my work is … in section 1 was discussed. No sooner said than done two images and draft were presented in a midweek review.

PHO702: Week 6 Coursework A Sea of Images

Week 6 Resources: A Sea of Images

I started reading Mythologies by Roland Barthes and found interest in a chapter on Blind and Dumb criticism and have been pleased to start listening to an allied BBC production on 21st Century Mythologies for Omnibus. (Conrad, 2014)

Bibliography

Conrad, P. (2014) 21st Century Mythologies – Omnibus, Part 1 – [object Object] – BBC Sounds. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/b04wy810 (Accessed: 24 March 2019).

Week 6 Webinar: Power Corrupts, Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely

Okay, so this is an accepted truism, and while it might not be absolute, there is no shortage of corruption highlighted by the media. Insofar as the webinar was concerned, I was still away visiting the University and also saw no online invitations, but I may have been distracted in materiality and physical location with others from the course. I need to return to this to give it justice. I’ve recorded much already below, and it covers the example points proffered, but not wholly or exclusively. As I detect the possibility of repetition, I have to leave this and jump back to Week 9 or risk the ebb and flow of falling behind and catching up. I continue to organise and act to keep the course under control, for surely it needs it. I sense students as well as staff feel the pressures of this all year round commitment and still somehow find an overall life balance.

Week 6 Independent Reflection

Reflect on:

  • Any ideas that particularly interested or challenged you.
  • Whether or not your ideas have changed.
  • How you assess ‘intimacy and distance’.

I’m challenged by the insistence on the West being a homogeneous entity as my opening position. The assumption of homogeneity gives a false realism and an impression of greater dominance than truly deserved.

The main change for me has been in paying attention to the past and raking up ideas of life in a former time left almost forgotten. Oddly, my project intent bridges across many of the middle years in which for example the magazine of the week has operated.

I’m not sure about intimacy and distance as I’ve yet to locate/relocate the quote. It is probably a graphic and not a text item. For me to process it is best to have all written presentation included as text. I’ll revisit the slides but there is a time penalty involved I cannot afford at present if I am to keep up / catch-up after time at the University as the course rolled on. As you can see I’m not a fan of texts being fragmented and showcased at different levels of storage particularly for a course with online delivery. I cry for modernisation which will not/cannot be realised, I guess.

Write a brief summary in your research journal, taking into account:

  • How your practice may (or may not) be seen as adhering to a specific ideology.
  • The potential impact of this given the subsequent meaning and reception your practice might attract. From whom?
  • Any power negotiations within your own practice.
  • Your practice in the context of other visual practices and theoretical points.

The ideology I adopt is that of connecting with my ancestral relations where I can still reach across living memory to those affected by war but who remained silent as now I realise gaps of people and lack of outpouring over loss of which I’m now aware. As a member of a diaspora and with direct familial connection I feel a certainty in describing my cause if it may be so called.

Already the work in both parts, a written narrative of academic standard and a visual work of growing independence, there is a drawing together of family divided and now a translation to a new generation. In this act I can gauge the degree of connectedness and discern the level of male cultural identification as opposed to biological inheritance. In the sea of images there is a place for narratives and art as substitute for pure dry historical record and especially as we live in a visual age.

There is again a certainty or solidity within practice that this work will endure with or without the MA Photography course, and I state this as plain fact rather than a rejectionist view. If I change practice, rather than sustain practice it will be a natural development from doing too much of the same and desire for change which I sometimes relieve by continuing to shoot on a broader front. The course MA Photography creates tension both helping along the professional development of practice which is much appreciated yet also through constraints and rules about production, best work that may have been completed by now becomes highly constrained by a set of production rules, which I go along with. Such is the educational awards system. It is not a complaint, more something to negotiate and a reason to be patient over and allow time for development to be realised. A shorter sharper intense MA of 9 months might have been more compatible with my practice. Nevertheless I aim to listen and absorb as much as possible for as long as I can sustain focus. No-one said this course would be easy and I would not want it to be, especially for true practice development. For those with an eye on value then how can we complain at receiving two years of full time education packed in so? There is a lot to be commended and challenges to be sustained.

In terms of other visual practices there is now a long known thing of my work being likened to paintings. Despite the differences we are familiar with, the one gap I have to be aware of is that painters can paint a floor to ceiling canvas as an art experience making as many small marks as they wish, but as my photographs are of miniature scale, the camera quickly runs out of pixels and so I adapt my work and introduce AI lately and other photographic techniques around lighting and microscopy at times to help maintain resolution at the art as experience painterly scale. Also, work on bodily glow is better presented much more effectively as light emitted rather than reflected. Later finding 20 light boxes for exhibition purposes could be a constraint on optimal presentation. I wonder if the university would help a campaign to have emitted light presentation methods in the IoP gallery space for example? The work at least demands wet C-type print methods.

I rapidly approached the point of obtaining enough photographs by widening scope from trauma to non-exclusively photographing physical memory through retention of contact pressure marks on the body – no injury required to record bodily glow and still connect to the past as physical manifestation. At last progress. During the quieter Winter months less was happening due to physical inactivity, I suppose. Now at the present level with 140 photographs from Week 2 to 7 and only a handful pressed into production – done to meet critique timescales and weekly webinar reviews. There has now been an advance in the digital darkroom. There is a form of mass production of groups of like photographs constructed into one massive image file at the start. With consistency in light during taking and application of identical processing steps across the set in digital processing I now work on five images at time. I got to this after using film and developing and scanning it at Falmouth. I’ve adopted the trial for digital. This could conceivably expand to 20 images at a time, and keep within file size limitations. This constitutes a new preprocessing step. The composite image is then divided back down into individual 5 x 4 tiles for crafting to be applied. There is less control at this stage, at present, as creative direction is taken from reading each image, but collocates start to abound. As I learn the craft even more and refine the outcomes to my intent I should find my preferred style and obtain the required edit. In retrospect I needed more to find consistent sets of images than fuss over handcrafting each stage of each image. So now white balance as one step is for the composite rather than individual images. Whilst technically there is a measurement difference, across images of consistency, there is little to argue and besides the final stage of crafting creates wide changes in direction of final appearance.

I only wrote so much on this point as it is a recent innovation in my practice that produces results and overall there is a freeing up to lend time to the creative processes standardising steps that adapt to standardisation without compromising work. At a simple level too I have gained control over storage and workflow and even have introduced discipline into auditing image heritage and end use. At the start of the course with fewer images they were easier to control informally, but as the enterprise has grown, so discipline and control have become necessary especially around deadlines.

This is still only a stage in the ongoing practice development and even now my original intent to layer in appropriate glyphs has begun to happen. There are some exciting decisions to make as I proceed towards image and text narrative. Currently I use call and response captions for effect. Now visual scope increases.

I should not forget the value add from the course most recently of advertising practice influences and as yet I do not know what more there is to follow in influential course content in the next 14 weeks duration, not to mention advances though ongoing crits.

Whether all this answers the question directly posed above or not, I am pleased to have been triggered into writing all this down as it marks for me personally a significant progress and I can now challenge and adapt my creative and production ideas.

Overall, I am pleased to be able to sustain balanced effort between learning and doing, continually making new examples of work within practice, and not forgetting to keep on shooting photographs across multiple genres as a way to sustain and remain motivated.

Week 6 Activity: And When I am Formulated, Sprawling on a Pin

I don’t have any problem with Grundberg particularly. 1988 is now a long time ago in relation to change in the world. In those days, no worldwide web, no globalisation, very little competition and very expensive air travel. It takes some focus to remember how it was, By then certainly, we had an Open University and so a growing empowerment of working people who before were excluded by class.

As I wrote in my blog, modern day Britain is an integrated multicultural society, more so than ever before. As such I see variety and am not inclined to be pressed into pigeon holing individuals by place, by race, by gender or religion. Also, of the 195 countries English is the most rapidly adopted language but even then only 1 billion in a world population 7.56 billion. What I’m saying is the West as such is not a dominant whole as we like to think but is an amalgamation of many things: many countries, languages, cultures. Amongst these remain cultural tensions like between nordic countries and that’s just one example.

Also as blogged, I have been in a highly visual state and need a break right now before piling back into creative image production, especially when catching up after a period visiting the University for workshops and weekend symposium as the course rolled on uninterrupted. I choose not to turn up unsettling images that lie best forgotten for me for now. 

Week 6 Presentation: National Geographic – Representing, Re-Presenting, Reproducing

We talk of things National Geographic in much higher terms and language than the natural level of the matter itself. It seems therefore to be a concern relating to Western consciousness. 

I neither flicked through nor read the National Geographic preferring to listen to articles of the digital subscription and then voted by not renewing. It was maybe for me a source of language experience. How I decoupled from the visuals is dumfounding now as a photographic student. 

As for moving pyramids together then simple lens choice does this anyway, so why question positional adjustment by other means? Editorial intent seems to be what is found objectionable. For me my photographs are steered in the direction I pre-visualise and see. I am in control of my work, it is not left to the camera to fully determine.

The expression used by Baudrillard appears contorted or overly clever in processing a double negative as a positive. Such is the power of logic. The meaning could have been obscured by further layers of logic and result in the same assertion i.e. that the simulacrum is true. In line with Barthes Punctum, here I might suggest a new term the Stimulacrum. Don’t ask, as the well-intended comment will likely result in a long explanation (of book chapter proportions?). 

Britain is a well integrated multicultural society, and as such it is difficult for me to imagine non Western people. The assumption of a Western people in its own right is not intended to deny people their heritage. In the worlds 195 countries, the fastest growing language, English, has only 980 million speakers. I do not perceive a Western dominant entity. I believe it true that genetically I may have greater similarity with people of Oriental descent than near neighbours of English descent. By such I resist being led into pigeon holing others as the lecture appears to insist.

National Geographic Society policy, I would view as a laudable objective. To maintain such would require constant and strong leadership over the decades and involve a level of editorial process that was formal and effective under publication deadlines. I think if you run such a complex venture then ideological control is going to be a constant challenge. If the drift was so immense why wait over a century to take issue with pictorial content. Besides change in the world is a constant and so perceptions from last century may have been suited to the audience and culture then and it would have been impossible to predict future intolerance. Magazines are largely disposable in public hands and destined for the waste. So to refer to the 1976 edition cannot be a norm as only major libraries would hold the copy and then it would be displayed mostly to an individual on special request. Is it in the past and time to move on?

As for my work, I make little of power relations but feel the pressure building to adopt such. If I were to liken loss of my ancestors to the means of Jewish communities in keeping alive the memory of the Holocaust, of which I have no problem, then in the background you could argue for my work, that I keep alive memory of the Scottish cause in the Great War, it being another mistake of self inflicted loss we must avoid. In representing a national cause if that is what my work takes on then as part of the diaspora I have a natural voice for this work. In truth we are talking about background influence and family as the initial audience.

My work being in the abstract is non representational. It is more a human biological connection down the generations that will terminate as females of the line, no longer happen to be born, as dictated by factors such as chance or through a preponderance of males.

Abstract expressionism is used to parallel narratives and so continuation of the gene is what is paramount.

How anthropology relates therefore is tricky. Are we to assume that subjects photographed object and hand unspoken complaint over to the west to wrestle with and tie itself in knots?

As for the exotic, do we reckon the subjects themselves believe they are exotic or perhaps the are merely down to earth folk? How do they view western photographers, maybe with excitement, enjoyment and fun? How wealthy are the visitors really? They can maybe afford to stay a while but the residents of the lands can stay indefinitely. And who is to say with all the complaint about modern living that the subjects by comparison experience a simpler, less stressful existence.

Surely in the West we are the ones slaved to society?  

The stereotype I detect is expressed as academic or informed language. I’ve taken a turn away from the visual for now having been so immersed of late. Insofar as seeking out objectionable material, I prefer to let any such images rest for now. Also, I find a lot of roads lead back to American culture, again which I choose not to engage with, out of choice.

The May 1985 cover photograph of the Vickers Vimy is interesting as the aircraft depicted has a single prop, whereas the original aircraft had wing mounted props. I’m sure there is a rational explanation.

Week 6 Independent Reading: Decoding National Geographic

When the significant shift in a magazine’s presentation of photography has a timeline hidden a mixing in an archive presentation in a gallery, this act obscures progression. When aesthetic choices are made in curating an exhibition it then falls short compared to the presentation of that properly researched. This in critical context then undermines the value of the work. in the Grunberg article  (Grundberg, 1998)There is a sense of the development of photography from black and white into the era of Kodachrome colour. At the exhibition at the V&A Museum of the RPS Archive collection there is a display that demonstrates by example the impact of the development of colour film in. a series of works that pop. The colour work is consistent and beautifully coloured almost as a croyon colour effect. I have a film camera loaded with some right now and am looking for an opportunity to shoot the roll and get to experience what it can do. I think this connects with my practice as parallel practice that informs the main body of work emergent. 

Grundberg (ibid) indicates advice on curation regarding curatorial practice in particular over using archive photographs. When we create a Final Major Project FMP, we will be faced with the possibility of selecting archive work previously unpublished.

If I disagree with Grundberg, it is probably over the ease with which he adopts a popular mass culture perspective categorising American’s as having set charateristics especially over the consumption of coffee table magazines. He also engenders national competition indicating the Europeans did a better job over the Images of Bamum curated by Geary. Presumably there is a veiled point design to cause the US establishment react to consistently produce top notch work.

Another point affecting my work is the edit, being able to mix two themes of commemoration with celebration of life. They collocate but differ in photographic style.

Bibliography

Grundberg, A. (1998) ‘A Quintessentially American View of the World – NYTimes.com’. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/1988/09/18/arts/photography-view-a-quintessentially-american-view-of-the-world.html?pagewanted=all.

Week 6 Module Leader Sessions

No Module Leader session rather a face to face critique was attended during the Falmouth Flexible Living Image week and weekend Symposium.

Week 6 Forum: Are You Drowning Yet

Reflect on the contexts which are open to disseminate photographs today, eg, print portfolio, book, magazine, Internet, zine and gallery.
I’m inclined to think outside of the box and have learned various approaches beyond the traditional contexts which have been the subject of an earlier module assignment. Also, to reduced repetition here is something new.

Virtual Environments 

[A] 3D virtual environments

[B] 3D social environments 

[C] Stereogram

[D] Interactive environments 

[E] Pop up exhibition

[F] Model making

[G] Textile print

[H] Clothing

* Provide specific examples to support your comments.

[A] The possibilities scoped and cost and availability of tools have been checked out.  
[B] As is my want and based on previous experience I have reentered the 3D world in Second Life. This is with the intent of creating a visual space for visual experience. Other viewer options have been experienced. 
[C] For materiality 3D stereograms and cardboard viewer from the London Stereographic  Company (of Brian May fame) work well enough. 
[D] The context allows detection using sensors or interaction between exhibit and smartphone. 
[E] Model making is another material approach. Instead of having to attend a gallery a folding miniature gallery space might be created but linked to an electronic device and /or a set of prints.
* Evaluate their success or failure.
[A] Image quality image problem and fiddly so not for all.[B] Proven by the Victorians and a personal favourite of mine, this is a great way of inducing visual exploration. Instead of the eye resting it is free to roam directing gaze at will picking out detail.

* Outline how each context might ‘assign new meanings’ to the work.
* Identify and reflect on ways in which this might inform the optimal context for viewing your own practice.
Comment on the posts of your peers throughout the week as you consider the content of the presentations. Continue to refine and evaluate your own practice and prepare for the webinar.

Week 6 Introduction: A Sea of Images

What ‘ordinary’ images you make.

Being pedantic here I’ll answer in full knowledge of the difference between made images and photographs.

Amongst other things the eye has become trained in seeing the mundane. Especially unique passing scenes not to be repeated and subjects taken from a different perspective. Ordinary pictures are the preserve although not exclusively, of the smartphone. With a DSLR camera it has the power to remind to make something of deemed significance or art.

An ordinary image though, would start out as more or less any photograph without title, captioning or hashtag or other material context. To each individual reader a fleeting personal meaning perhaps yet what of making common, where author intent is tuned into or partially tuned into by the reader. Most images start out as ordinary yet through the application of effort, those kept images those ordinary images for which there is some projected intent, through refinement and planned development and imagined context they become transformed and start to leave the realm of the ordinary.

How important a ‘mass existence’ is over a ‘unique existence’.

Who am I to judge the multiplicity of readings? Mass existence helps make common, and as cultural references develop they allow us to start communicating. Unique seems desirable but can place the work as other or niche and the work lend itself to adverse criticism, notoriety, an example of poor practice, that to be avoided and best not replicated.

Much changes over time so with mass existence there seems to be an implication of the contemporary.

How a reproduction can reach us in ‘our own situation’ today.

In a multitude of ways and in newly evolving ways.there

Whether or not you recycle and reproduce any cultural myths.

Is it still possible to be original?

How is it possible to know completely, and how self-aware are we? I’ve tried hard and no matter how hard, inevitably a discovery is made and so one learns not to be disappointed. Areas of taboo may be ripe for “exploitation”.

As much as ego drives originality discovery can readily prove the new idea to have been replicated elsewhere. There is scope for originality through technological innovation – at least that is my hope.