PHO703: Week 1 to 12 Surfaces and Strategies Contextualisation

Week 10

I’m spilling over into the ideas around external influences – reaching out from my work to other partitioners or genres. Also, I’m thinking aloud over some of the points necessary as inputs to the Oral Presentation.

I need to go back over this and tidy it up and add more of the reading I’ve been doing and some ancillary research I’ve conducted.

I derive my work by subverting the camera (filter and sensor) then undermining the external processing software. I challenge the algorithmic and break its limits. I recombine an image in myriad ways with itself to create something new, in part unexpected but linked to my intent.

Kandinski – the Spiritual


It is comforting to read Kandinski on The Spiritual in Art as the work I make springs from the soul. It is symphonic with strong inner value, and does not readily explain itself yet can be appreciated by those who are patient. Since writing this, I have ventured into mixing archive images with abstract to create access for the viewer to make their interpretation of the visual language.

My work has long now been subject to a spiritual influence that tracks back over decades something I attributed to chance although history drew me in. Presence became heightened in recent times, and still, I attribute events to chance. Chance worked to prevent my return to photography. An art gallery experience threw me with remarkable resemblances to my work in abstract photography. A discussion with Olympia in Damien Hirst’s gallery challenged my belief in God and led to a debate on chance events having such implausibility alongside a direct comparison of the artist’s paintings and my photographic work.

I subsequently watched Rachel Howard’s interview with Will Self, and it is clear that her work uses “the hidden hand of gravity”. It is that universal which linked our work.

There are more coincidences one with a Pentecostal Pastor, and each time I have to rationalise what happened. Events taint how I look at my work. It is easy to suspend judgement and accept conversion. I can see how that operates for some.

Science and Art

People I link to from a hundred years past have a direct information carrier through DNA. Not just the link that Barthes noticed is seeing a likeness, but in mitochondrial DNA that powers our bodies. We share common mitochondria and it diverges infrequently. It remains static for thousands of years. By comparison, X chromosome alters and mixes at each generation and so lacks connection over time that mitochondria have.

My photography method begins with the lens-based digital camera and captures information as the camera sees in a different way to the eye. I process the image to reveal and emphasise infrared light that manages to passthough and create data via the sensor.

I align passthrough infrared with the human healing process in a merging of science and Art.

Making Art is next. The glow images I obtain have an aesthetic that can be quite dramatic, but this is the stuff of Flickr groups and the like with categories such as the spectacle of bruising. I go beyond this through early discovery and subsequent pre-visualisation of how I can transform the data to make images in several well-defined categories. These originally were abstract landscapes and ghost images, and I now extend to seascapes, the inner space and outer space.

Those who died in the early 20th century would never have known of trace conducted through DNA relations or of internet record searches nor carriage by personal vehicle.

From the start, I worked with my Generally Accepted Rules of DNA inheritance focussed on mitochondria. I identify the dominant driving force of the Matriarchy and assume propriety in families. It may come as a surprise to learn that the male action dominated world, especially of 20th-century warfare, was powered biologically speaking by the female of the species.

Only recently have I adopted DNA testing with the specific intention of learning the visual culture of commercial testing companies. Commercial entities use marketing and advertisements to build public consciousness. I’ve now brought this into my practice.

I have worked in an interdisciplinary manner and deduced a biological interpretation. I have done so without medical qualification, and by closing in on commercial testing; this research has critically strengthened my analysis.

We remain naive even today when participating in DNA testing. If we allow the raw data to be set loose, there can be repercussions. If health insurers obtain the raw data, they could use it to penalise. Beyond this are discoveries yet to be made by science. We could leave ourselves open.

Week 8 and 9

During these study periods, I visited Arles 2019 Les Rencontres de la Photographie.

While I appreciated many many works, I also had a keen eye for the variety of presentation methods on display and for books I specialised in looking out for the various approaches to pamphlet style books. The display method is vital regarding my impending exhibition if I’m ever to get an edit in place in time and then for the book I have a limited number of pages to fill (around 32) hence the interest in pamphlet-sized presentations.

As an interactive aside and in the spirit of the course, I interacted with a Helen Levit poster then rephotographed an interaction with the actual print.

At another venue, I took over a blank wall for short photo session involving an evocation of a crucifixion (as one does?), then proceeded to photograph several linked items including crosses and a couple airing themselves by a fan in cruciform style. 

In what follows is a reminder to self of where I visited which I can tie into the Exhibition Catalogue for a further reminder. Without this record the details would disappear into a fog, I’m sure so this way I can relive the experience and resurrect the details.

Day 1 Friday 26 July

1. Espace Van Gogh: Helen Levitt: Eve Arnold, Abigal Heyman and Susan Meislas

2. Eglise Des Trinitaires Toute un Historie ! Arlse A 50 Ans

3. Eglise Sainte-Anne Libuse Jarcovjakova
6. Salle Henri-Comte Tom Wood


8. Chapelle de la Charite

9. Maison des Lices

Then a walk over to the station and visits to:

18. Monoprix: Mohamed Bourouissa

21. Ground Control: Prix Decouverte, Louis Roederer: Kurt Tong

19. Le Jardin: Mario del Curto

Day 2 Saturday 27 July 2019

16. Croisiere: Camille Fallet, Marjan Teeuwen, Lionel Astruc and Erik Bonner, Des Clics et des Classes, France Inter, Nuit de L’Annee, La Sage des Inventions, Clergue and Weston, Pixy Liao, La Zone, Yann Pocreau,, Guillaume Simoneau, Laurence Aegerter

17. Maison des Peintres: The Anonymous Project, Home Sweet Home, Christian Lutz, Arles, Au-Dela D’une Rencontre; Explorer L’Image.

24. Grande Halle; Mecanique Generale: Photo ! Brut, Marina Gadonneix, Valerie Belin, 50 ans 50 Livres, Prix Du Livre, Dummy Book Award, Une Attention Particuliere

25. Les Forges: Lei Lei, Corps Impatients

15. Couvent Saint-Cesaire: VR Arles Festival

Day 3 Sunday 28 July 2019

Critique – I took along my handmade book and my Exhibition in a box and obtained vital feedback (see Project Development blog page)

Final afternoon of Exhibition visits:

13. Commanderie Saite-Luce: Randa Mirza

10. Chapelle Saint-Martin du Mejan: Varietes, Revue D.Avant-GardeEvangelia Kranioto, Claud Martin-Rainaud

5. Cloitre Saint-Triophime: Emeric L’Huissset, Germaine Krull

4. Palais De L’Archeveche: La Modiva, Chronique d’une Agitation

7. Fondation Manuel Rivera-Ortiz: Hey! What’s Going On?

Week 5

The book (Rexer, 2009) arrived after me writing, “No sign of The Edge of Vision the Rise of Abstraction – Lyle Rexer, appearing for a month. It does seem ever unlikely that the book will arrive in time to have any impact.” I was writing having had two orders frustrated by transportation damage at the sender end.

On the first inspection, I wonder if the book is a copy. Signs are, lack of copyright page discovered when I entered a citation. Next up the index was wrong when I used it to look up specific topics. I’ve written to the supplier. Being an expensive item it would be an attractive book to copy. I could be wrong, so let me see what transpires.

Already I have been inspired by the content, and it is helping me deepen my understanding as I further contextualise my abstract photography.

I was pleased to see my entries for artists; whose work I already follow: Ellen Carey, Gary Fabian Miller, Susan Derges and some recent arrivals on my scene, Gottfried Jager et al.

I have two other books on backorder. Jager, I wished to follow up as I’d studied Generative Art and wanted to find out the specifics for photography.


Rexer, L. (2009) The edge of vision : the rise of abstraction in photography. Aperture.

Week 4

I ordered twice and failed to have delivered Lyle Rexer, The Edge of Vision, The Rise of Abstraction in Photography, having been disappointed by two bookshops declaring damage in delivery to them (book dropped and damaged, book contaminated by wet chemical). I’m waiting for a second refund and my third order to be processed. These events fall into the category of superstition as it has affected my work at essential points in my practice.

Meanwhile, I have reading ongoing around Curating (George, no date), Photobooks (Colberg, 2017) and Exhibitions (Marincola, 2006)


Colberg, J. (2017). Understanding Photo Books the Form and Content of the Photographic Book. Edited by Taylor and Francis. New York: Focal Press.

George, A. (no date) The Curator’s Handbook. Kindle. Edited by A. George. Thames and Hudson.

Marincola, P. (2006) Questions of Practice What Makes a Great Exhibition?Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative. Available at:


Week 3

Towards a philosophy of Photography, Vilem Flusser

I’ve analysed the reference (Flusser, 2012) a bit further following a group discussion. A recommendation was made that having read this, return to it and have another read. It is considered quite an important document.

What I do here on second reading is to gist the content for a fresh perspective in terms of the language used by Flusser, to describe photography.

Flusser concentrates on photography from the standpoint of the image, and he focusses the writing on the camera or apparatuses.

There is an existential theme where Flusser considers the human being, in conjunction with another discussion around the universe (photographic universe) and the magic that exists.

There is a concern for the technical aspects of the apparatus.

There are also many other factors introduced in a wide-ranging analysis covering anything from anthropology, and too many to mention considerations such as signs and signification, the qualitative etc., through to the identification of stakeholders to build reasoned actions and opinions coloured with emotional overtones of devastation and collapse.

From this body of analysis, Flusser makes many assertions including one about the camera as a tool, being technically complex and having constraints, but how otherwise a camera is simple to use as he considers the logical limits in terms of numerous references to “everything”. He is concerned with the lack of criticism that images receive.

He makes references to Lebanon, Jewish prophets and Greek philosophers but also mentions the Kodak brand.

Thinking about the negative assertions Flusser makes, these cover a vast range of considerations again and includes Marxism, ritual acts and fetishisation, Luddite just to mention a few aspects of his language. He also makes negative connotations around change, that which was that is no longer, and we return to indicate the electromagnetic.

There is just so much more that can be written about this reference, and so for now I settle for this summary that gives the gist of the topic. In essence, Flusser writes down on paper a personal life of experience of thinking about photography, and it is quite personal as he does not reference other work. Thus he takes ownership of a philosophy of photography. Clearly, other authors to cover the subject area, and there are many points where the various works inflect. Flusser makes a significant contribution to his aim, I would say, to fuel meaningful critical discussion about photography which as mentioned he found generally lacking.

You don’t know how much he was able to read of others, and in the end, there is no assumption that Flusser is actually a photographer. He may be more the thinker than a photographic practitioner.


Flusser, V. (2012) Towards a Philosophy of Photography. Kindle Flu. Edited by V. Flusser. London, [England]: Reaktion Books.

Week 2

Check out George LeGrady who’s earlier career was in digital computing and software or the like. The reason for making an association is to determine similarities in the approach I might find between our work methods.

I began looking at my work in more full ways and discussed this in Module Leader Office Hours. I need to be careful that I understand where my work comes from and maintain the resolved nature rather than take my work and cause it to fray at the edges. Resolved means resolved.

Several word definitions looked up to inspire various ways forward with my work.

Montage: 1. The act or process of making a composite photograph 5. Frequent cutting of camera viewpoint to create action cf mise en scene

Tableaux and tableaux vivant Vivid, suddenly created, action frozen for dramatic effect.

Guest Lecture – Victoria Forrest

It is a more than happy coincidence that we were able to gain advice from a practitioner in Bookmaking, particularly as my attempt to make my Ed Rusha hand made book has stalled. Apart from time pressure, I need to find a supply of doubled sided matte or gloss paper to print on. Gloss will emphasis the blacks in my Padlock series.

In allocating pages to so-called signatures, I probably need to work in the Adobe InDesign software and manually assign pages.

I need to work backwards from whatever format, e.g. start with 35mm format images then select a paper size that works. Images for full bleed want to be 3mm oversize to prevent unplanned white borders.

The cover could be a graphic of one of the images in reduced colour bearing in mind the challenge of printing on coloured paper/card. It is good to have some texture, and it is possible to stick on a sticker to the front cover.

Any book I make could be standalone, for exhibition or perhaps special edition. Contents remain the same, covers alter.

Note: look up Sally Mann Ambrotypes of thumbprints to check any parallels with my current practice.

Week 1

Nothing to report – too early.

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