PHO703: Surfaces and Strategies Student Introduction

Hello, I’m Michael Turner, a student of the Falmouth Flexible MA Photography course. I’m moving into my second year having started in the May 2018 intake. Within the industry, I’m Studio Manager at Trade Secrets Live.

I’ve been published in a London Group photobook and group exhibited twice in London during 2018.


My portfolio is in the abstract. I re-present minor bodily injury in order to identify with lost ancestors who continued fighting in the Great War despite injury and wounding. I trace shared mitochondrial DNA connections as this is what converts nutrients to our bodily energy and I use this to express a connection through Life’s Glow.

Task – Ed Ruscha

In the run up to the start of the Surfaces and Strategies Module we were asked to prepare some work in line with Ed Ruscha’s portrayal of the mundane in his book 26 Gas Stations.

I’ve taken the topic of visible security and photographed an array of locks, padlocks, chains and entry mechanisms.

Ed Rusha challenge – security

The idea is to create a handmade book for which I’ve learned some of the basic skills and obtained the simple tools necessary.

I thought I would have finished this by now as I’ve been working away at it regularly for a month. In principle all is straightforward.

What I have done is to take stock of visual portrayals that hang together and have kept shooting to increase the number of images. Currently the total stands at over 400 and surprisingly only now provides enough for what I need to edit down. This is over 12 times what I’d expect for an edit. It is just that I have mixed items within the subject brief.

There is no automatic count of each category so I had to keep going out to increase the numbers of compatible images. Unsurprisingly, I still came back with a mixture, probably as a result of hedging and waiting to see in which direction things would go.

Initially padlocks were the objective, I keep seeing them wherever I went. I felt that they were mundane and so met the brief but expressed something deeper about modern life around protecting property and access.

Chains are often associated with padlocks can make more interesting visual compositions. Then I photographed an array of entry devices with all manner of constructions.

This rapidly expands to several books.

I now have to draw a line as I proceed further with processing images for the edit.

Handmade Bookmaking

I’m for now avoiding standard photobook offerings in favour of the handmade.

I learned about using signatures, sewing and gluing and got so far investigating layout software. I have a bookmaking course scheduled for August. Skills currently need to be developed and decisions made around printing and making the cover.

For now I again need to draw a line and get on with the making. I won’t yet have full control of bookmaking in all its aspects, more of which I discover at every turn. I intend to have a go and learn, then later build on this start.

Second Challenge

I have something for the re-photograph, challenge in addition to the Ed Rusha challenge. This photograph of a photograph was taken instinctively.

Although a Vivian Maier self portrait, the meaning for me was in once having created such an image in the window of the Oxo Tower on London South Bank. It was for a Photography social competition and having been taken at night time was rather dark and mysterious.  For some reason I recall the date as about the 5 Dec 2015, so should be able find  my original in an old catalogue when I return to base. So back to the Vivian Maier self portrait reproduction. This was displayed at PhotoLondon 2019, and when it aroused interest it became a “Rephotography Trap” automatically capturing the photographer’s reflection on her’s. Many decades have passed since the original was taken. Would Maier ever have envisaged a large scale reproduction behind glass ensnaring future photographers? – if she did what brilliance.You are allowed access by having your reflection automatically superimposed, but you are not given access to the silver disc, at least without deliberately plotting some way in.The least I was able to do was to included my silver hair. Another meaning concerns a piece of geometric transformation. Instead of the silver disk, there is a reflected rectangle. The decider would have been If I’d worn my hat indoors, which naturally I don’t. So there is a sign of the outdoor then, and indoors now. Wearing my hat would have topped it all off, but then that would have forced the new image. The result might lose authenticity. Lets stay with the natural and instinct, and move history on a step.

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